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What are the Different Types of Notarial Certificates?

Most people know that notarizing a document involves stamping it with a notary seal, but there are some other important elements to a notarial ceremony. There are formal procedures as to how, when, and where a notary stamp is applied. The notary certificate and its wording that’s attached to the document serve to record important elements.

Regardless of the type of notary certificate, it will establish some key facts: 

  • Where the notarization took place (county and state or city and state is usually listed)
  • Who appeared before the notary (the principal or signer of the document)
  • The statement the principal made before the notary 

 

Some states, like California, will require that you use specific certificate language as per state statutes for certain acts. Texas notaries are allowed to use other wording as long as it is substantially similar to the state-approved forms. In Florida, notaries are permitted to use any wording as long as nine required certificate elements are present. 

 

Common Types of Notary Certificates

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with each of the most common types of notarial certificates to perform your duties as a notary properly. They include: 

  • Acknowledgments
  • Jurats
  • Oaths and/or Affirmations 

 

Read more: Nine Essential Elements of a Notarial Certificate


Acknowledgment

An acknowledgment acts as a declaration of the signer that he or she understands the contents of a document and is willingly signing it. The signer may sign an acknowledgment outside of the presence of the notary, and the signer may also be signing on their own behalf or on behalf of another person as their attorney-in-fact, on behalf of a corporation or other organization as their representative, or some combination of these. 

An acknowledgment typically requires the following steps to be administered correctly: 

  1. The signer appears before the notary either in person or via secured video conferencing (if you’re approved for remote online notarization).
  2. The notary confirms the identity of the signer according to state laws.
  3. The signer may either sign the document before meeting with the notary or in the presence of the notary.
  4. The signer must verbally declare (or acknowledge) that he or she is signing the document with the full understanding of its contents and intended purpose. 

An important part of a notary’s job is to determine if the signer understands what they are signing and is under no pressure or duress to sign. For this reason, it’s important for a notary to be able to communicate directly with the signer unless an attorney-in-fact is acting as a proxy. If someone requests a document to be notarized with the help of an interpreter, most states do not allow this. 


Where are acknowledgments used? 

An acknowledgment is usually needed for documents that involve valuable assets like: 

  • Deeds
  • Mortgages
  • Trusts 

 

Jurat 

The purpose of a jurat is for the signer to swear or affirm that the content of a document is accurate or truthful according to their knowledge. Some states may call this a verification upon oath or affirmation as well as an affidavit. 

Unlike an acknowledgment, the signer must appear before the notary and sign at the time of the notarial ceremony. Either an oath or affirmation must be verbally administered where the signer says aloud that he or she promised that the statements in the document are true. Another individual may not take the place of the intended signer swearing to or affirming the contents of the document.

This notarial ceremony can result in dire legal consequences as the signer may be prosecuted for perjury should they lie. 

While you’ll find that the wording of jurats can vary from state to state, here are the basic steps required to administer a jurat successfully: 

  1. The signer appears before a notary either in person or via secured video conferencing (if you’re approved for remote online notarization).
  2. The notary confirms the identity of the signer.
  3. Perform a verbal oath or affirmation ceremony where the signer responds out loud. Silent gestures like a nod of the head are not permissible.


Where are jurats used?

Jurats are typically performed on important legal documents used in trials like:

  • Affidavits 
  • Depositions

 

Oaths and/or Affirmations

Sometimes, a client may need a notary to solely administer the oath or affirmation orally rather than as part of a jurat, affidavit, or other written document. The intention of both an affirmation and oath is to compel the individual to truthfulness. 

An oath is a pledge to god or a higher power that the statements are authentic while an affirmation is a pledge on the individual’s personal honor. As with certificates, which is applied should be left up to the individual taking the oath or affirmation. 

Steps for both oaths and affirmations include: 

  1. The individual taking the oath or affirmation appears before you. Oaths and affirmation may not be administered remotely by phone or email.
  2. Raising of the hand or another ceremonial gesture like holding a Bible or some other religious text is encouraged to impress upon the oath-taker the importance of their statement. This formality isn’t usually required by law, but it’s still customary. The notary then administers the oath or affirmation according to their state’s wording.
  3. The person taking the oath or affirmation must verbally answer with a “Yes” or “I do.” This reply must be clearly heard by the notary.

 

How do I correct a mistake on a notary certificate? 

It depends on the mistake and when the mistake is discovered. If you spot an error while the signer is still present, some states, like California, allow you to line through the mistake, correct it, and then initial and date the change.  Unfortunately, if the mistake is realized after the notarial ceremony is completed and the signer has left, a new notarial act is required to correct it. 

Florida is more restrictive, notaries cannot correct or amend a certificate once the notarization is complete even if the signer is still present. The only way to fix any mistake is for the notary and signer to complete a brand new certificate. 

 

What should I do if there is no notarial certificate? 

Without a notarial certificate, you can’t complete the notarization. Unless you are also an attorney, notary publics are prohibited from choosing the certificate for the signer. This is considered an unauthorized practice of law. Ask the signer which certificate they would like to attach to the document. If they are unsure, you may describe the different notarial acts and their corresponding certificate and let the signer choose. 

If the signer is still unsure, recommend that they contact the company that issued or is receiving the document or an attorney for further instructions. After the proper certificate is chosen, you can complete the notarial ceremony. 

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This content is provided for informational purposes only. PropLogix, LLC (PLX) is not a law firm; this content is not intended as legal advice and may not be relied upon as such. PLX makes no representations as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of this content. PLX may reference or incorporate information from third-party sources, upon which a citation or a website URL shall be provided for such source. PLX does not endorse any third party or its products or services. Any comments referencing or responding to this content may be removed in the sole discretion of PLX.

 

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Amanda Farrell

Amanda Farrell is a digital media strategist at PropLogix. She enjoys being a part of a team that gives peace of mind to consumers while making one of the biggest purchases of their lives. She lives in Sarasota with her bunny, Buster, and enjoys painting, playing guitar and mandolin, and yoga.