Notary Association of America's Best Practices for Notaries Public

September 28, 2023 / Notary Association of America

As a state-commissioned notary public, you play a vital role in preventing fraud by verifying and authenticating the identity of document signers.

Here are eight best practices that will help you perform flawless notarizations every time:

  1. Unless the state permits remote online notarization, ensure that all document signers are physically present and provide current identification issued by a state or federal government, such as a driver's license or passport. However, if you personally know the signer of the document and are confident the individual is who they say they are, identification is not always necessary.
  2. Before notarizing a document, check for signs of potential fraud and forgery, such as blank fields and incorrect dates.
  3. Keep a record journal of all your notarizations. In fact, most states now require them. It is a valuable tool to have if a notarized document is ever called into question. Record the type of notarial act, notarization date, document type, name and contact information of the signer, information listed on their state or government-issued ID, and the signer's signature.
  4. Make sure the signer is aware of the document's contents and that they are willing to sign without duress from external parties or influences.
  5. Always complete the notarial certificate by including your notary seal and signature. Also, date the document on the day it's being notarized — never backdate or postdate.
  6. Keep your notary stamp/seal and journal in a secure location that only you can access.
  7. If you do not have notary errors and omissions insurance, we highly recommend it. This liability insurance will provide financial protection if you are sued for making an unintentional mistake or if a false claim is filed against you.
  8. Remember that you can refuse to notarize any document presented before you if you are uncomfortable performing the notarization.