What is a Notary Public?
A notary is a person of integrity appointed by the Secretary of State in California to witness the signing of important documents, taking of acknowledgements and/or affidavits and administering oaths. The powers and duties of a Notary Public are to act as an official impartial witness verifying that the person actually is who he or she claims to be and that that person is in the presence of a Notary Public.
What is a Mobile Notary?
A mobile notary is a notary public who travels to a designated meeting place, at your agreed upon time, to perform a particular notarial act. Using a mobile notary offers you:
- PRIVACY: Your documents are sensitive and require an environment of confidentiality. Retail stores and banks that offer notarizations do not tend to have that environment available.
- EXPERTISE: You have documents that may need a notary with specific experience or certification, such as loan signings or international documents.
- ATMOSPHERE: Relaxed, non-rushed service at a location of your choice and at a time convenient for you. Retail location counter help generally are having other customers waiting for services, so there may be a feeling of being rushed. If you need additional support to get the notarization performed (such as credible witnesses or signature by mark) they may not offer that opportunity.
- NON-BUSINESS HOURS: Mobile notaries keep extended hours of service and can assist you evenings, weekends, and holidays.
- INABILITY TO TRAVEL: Perhaps you don’t have transportation, or are in the hospital and cannot travel to get a notarization–you need a commissioned notary to come to you, where you need the service provided.
Can Notaries Give Legal Advice?
California Notaries are prohibited from performing any duties which may be construed as the unlawful practice of law. This includes preparation, drafting or selecting of any legal documents or giving advice with relation to any legal documents or matters. If a notary is asked to perform such tasks, the notary must advise the client that we notarize signatures on documents only.
If the notarial wording is not found on the document to be notarized, the signer should ask the receiving agency which type of notarization they need, seek the advice from an attorney or choose themselves between an acknowledgement (which proves you signed the document) or a Jurat (signer swears/affirms what they signed is true)
The Notary Public must establish the identity of the signer before the signing of any document using the following acceptable forms of Identification. The ID must be original, and must be current, or issued within the last five years (Photocopies are not acceptable.) The ID must have the exact name or longer than the name as it appears on the document. Valid forms are ID are as follows:
- California Driver License or ID Card
- A United States passport
- Inmate identification card issued by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or any form if ID issued by a Sheriff’s Department, if inmate is in custody.
The following additional forms of Identification must also be current, or issued within the last five years, AND must contain a photograph and description of the person named on it, signed by the person, and bear a serial or other identifying number:
- Foreign passport from a foreign government if stamped by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- A Driver’s License issued by a Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses
- Driver license or ID card (non-driver’s) issued by another state
- US Military identification card (must include signature)
- Employee Identification Card issued by an agency of office of the State of California, County, or City ID card (with photo, serial no., signature, and issue or expiration date)
If Signer is unable to provide any of the above listed ID documents:
Oath of Two Credible Witnesses may be used if the signer is unable to provide one of the above ID cards. This will require two witnesses that personally know the signer but are not related to the signer. The witnesses must have an acceptable form of ID. Under oath, the credible witnesses must swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that they have personal knowledge of your identity, believe it is not reasonable for you to obtain the approved ID, and be honest, aware, and impartial. The credible witnesses must sign the notary journal.
Notarization of Incomplete Documents:
A notary public may not notarize a document that is incomplete. If presented with a document for notarization which the notary public knows from his or her experience to be incomplete or is without doubt on its face incomplete, the notary public must refuse to notarize the document.
Notarial acts that can be performed in California:
- Acknowledgement: The purpose of an acknowledgement is to ensure that the signer of a document is who he says he is. Acknowledgements are often needed for documents containing valuable assets, such as deeds, mortgages, deed of trust and powers of attorney. The signer must personally appear in person at the time of notarization to be positively identified and to declare or acknowledge that the signature on the document is his or her own and that it was signed willingly.
- Jurat, Verifications and Affidavits: These are all different names for the same act. Their purpose is to require a signer to swear or affirm that the contents of a document are true. The signer personally appears before notary, is identified, signs in the presence of the notary, and is administered an oath or affirmation declaring the truthfulness of the document. Administering the oath or affirmation is a vital part of performing a Jurat or verification because the signer is affirming that the contents of the document are true, and he or she may be prosecuted for perjury if the contents are not true.
- Proof of Execution by Subscribing Witness: An individual vouches before a Notary to having watched the principal signer of a document sign the document or take the signer’s acknowledgement they signed and having been requested to sign the document themselves as a witness. They must appear with one credible witness who has valid ID, and who the notary personally knows) in front of the notary.
- Oath/Affirmation: Spoken promises of truthfulness made in the presence of the Notary (e.g., Oath of Office, witness for testimony, depositions).
- Copy Certification: A California Notary may only certify copies of Powers of Attorney For Copy Certification of other documents than a POA:
- Certified copies of birth, fetal death, death, marriage and school records are only available from the State and/or local registrars or County Recorder.
- A copy certification confirms that a reproduction of an original document is a “full, true and accurate transcription or reproduction” of the original document. A signer may write a statement about the document and sign it. Then the notary may notarize that signature by proving the identity of the signer as in an acknowledgment, or have the signer swear what they wrote in the statement is true in which case it is a Jurat.