What is a Notary Public?

A notary is a public servant with statewide jurisdiction, authorized to take acknowledgments, administer oaths, take depositions, and certify copies of documents that are not recordable in the public records.

Each Notary Public takes an official oath of office to faithfully perform the duties of the office. A Notary Public is a disinterested party that has notified the signer of the importance of the document, and the signer has declared that their identity, signature, and reasons for signing are genuine, and that the signer is free from any coercion.

Duly understood: the primary function of a notary public is to prevent fraud.

A notary requires the signer to be present for the notarization. Remember that the primary function of a notary public is to prevent fraud. We do this by requiring the physical presence of the signer, making a positive identification of the signer, and placing the signer under oath or affirmation, or taking the acknowledgment of the signer, and that the document was signed willingly.

The function of a notary

Acting as a disinterested party to show that the signer of a document was admonished to the importance of the document and that the signer has declared identity and verified the signature. And finally, verify the competence of the signer.

The presence of the Notary Public’s signature and the seal does not prove conclusively any of the factual components of the document, but should allow persons in commerce to rely upon the integrity of the Notary Public as a third party with no personal interest in the transaction.

Duties of a Virginia notary public
  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Protest instruments
  • Take depositions and affidavits
  • Execute jurats
  • Certify copies of documents that are not recordable in public records
  • The notary does not guarantee the truth or accuracy of the document.
  • The Notary has no obligation to verify the content of the document.
  • The Notary does not legalize or validate a document.
  • The Notary does not perform weddings

A notary public serves a number of important functions. We ensure proper authentication and execution of documents, and to defer fraud by positively identifying the signer of the document. Our seal indicates that we executed the duties of the tasks defined by our commission.

Notaries can notarize a handwritten document, however, the document presented must include the following:
1) identify the signer
2) include statements
3) have a signature line for the signer
4) contain a notarial certificate.

Id cards
The only type of ID card we can accept must be issued by State or Government identification these are a generally:
  • Drivers License State Id Card
  • Military ID
  • INS Card
  • Passport
  • and things of that nature….
A work identification card has no expiration and therefore is not a legitimate form of ID.
The ID must contain a Signature, Physical Description, Photo and Expiration to be acceptable.

Service Locations:
·         Hospice care
·         Hospitals
·         Law Firms
·         Banks
·         Political Campaigns
·         Libraries
·         Schools
·         Place of Worship

The examples of documents that can be notarized are:

    • Acknowledgments
    • Adoption papers
    • Advanced Medical Directives
    • Affidavits
    • Affirmations
    • Bank Power of Attorney
    • Bill of Sale
    • Business contracts
    • Business documents
    • Business Partnerships
    • Certified Copy non-recordable documents
    • Certified Copy of Power of Attorney
    • Declaration of common law union
    • Declaration of guardianship
    • Declaration of lost or stolen passport
    • Deeds of Easement
    • Deeds Releases
    • Dissolution of Marriage
    • DMV Traffic School Final Exam
    • Documents for Apostilles
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Electronic Documents
    • Employment forms
    • Financial documents
    • Foreign Adoptions
    • Government Forms
    • Grant Deeds
    • Incorporation’s
    • Investment Documents
    • Jurats
    • Lease Agreements
    • Lien Releases
    • Living Trust Documents
    • Loan Application Packets
    • Loan closings
    • Loan Signings
    • Medical records
    • Medical treatment consent
    • Mortgage closings
    • Name Changes
    • Oaths, Sworn in for Testimony
    • Pension and Retirement documents
    • Personal Statements
    • Pre-Marital Agreements
    • Prison Inmate documents
    • Professional licensing
    • Promissory Notes
    • Proof of residence
    • Protesting a bill for non-payment
    • Quit Claim Deed
    • Real Estate Documents
    • Residential Loan documents
    • Reverse Mortgages
    • School district residency
    • Title Escrow closings
    • Transfer of property ownership
    • Travel consent
    • Vehicle Title Transfer
    • Wills

Forms that cannot be notarized a notary cannot notarize the document under these circumstances:
  • If the signer is not physically present.
  • If the document contains missing pages or blanks that should be complete at the time of notarization.
  • Post-date a notarial certificate, or date it earlier than the actual date of notarization.
  • If the notarial certificate is blank.
  • If the signer cannot be positively identified through personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of identification.
  • If the document is not “original,” bearing the signer’s original, signature.
  • If the required notarial act is not indicated by the document, the signer, or someone connected to the document.
  • Notaries Cannot
  • Authenticate or validate objects.
  • Give advice or opinions that should be given by an attorney.
  • Proceed with a notarization if the signer appears confused or mentally incapable of understanding the transaction.
  • May not proceed with notarization if they think the transaction is illegal.

The examples of documents that cannot be notarized are:
Birth and Death Certificates
These are recordable documents, and a certified copy can only be issued by the governmental agency. However, a notary public has the authority to certify copies of original documents that are not recordable in the public records.

·       Notarizing photographs is not an authorized notarial act. However, we can notarize a statement about a photograph with the photograph as an attachment.

·         Names that don’t match
·        The name on the document does not match the name on the ID.

Documents with blanks
·       Documents must be complete and have no blank spaces. However, if there are blanks that are to be left blank, The Signer will be asked to insert “to be added later,” or “N/A”.

Faxed or copied signatures
·        A photocopied signature may never be notarized.

·       Backdate or forward date a notarization
·       We cannot backdate or forward date a notarization. The document can bear the date it is created or becomes effective, but the document is notarized with the dated the day the notarization.

Preparing or choosing the document
·       Notaries are prohibited from preparing or choosing the documents for signing. The only forms we have are notarization forms when one isn’t provided with the document to be notarized.

handwritten document
The State of Virginia does not prohibit the notarization of a handwritten document.
Most notaries won’t notarize a handwritten document or documents without title, the signature line, and date. Many clients tell me they were refused the notary by the bank. To prevent this make sure your document contains key components that allow the Notary Public to notarize your document. Your handwritten and the typed document must contain these 5 key items:

  • identify the principal signer,
  • include statements,
  • no blank, no uncompleted areas or fields
  • if you must leave it blank write “to be provided later” or “not applicable”
    have a signature line for the document signer
  • and contain a notarial certificate or statement such as an acknowledgment, jurat, affidavit where the notary will sign and stamp the document.

If you have been refused by any notary make sure the notary recorded it in the official record book, and that they have stated the reason for the refusal. Most notaries at banks and postal stores just don’t get sufficient education necessary to make informed and educated decisions about this service.

An acknowledgment is by far the most typical of notarial certificates I see. It is a formal declaration before a notary public by someone who signs a document and confirms that the signature is authentic.