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What Do I Need When Visiting A Notary Public?

Updated: Nov 3

Why Would I Need a Notary Public

There are plenty of reasons why you may need to visit a Notary Public. They notarize all kinds of documents, from loan documents to legal ones. Notarizing documents means getting them attested by a third party Notary Public which is a legal requirement in many cases. Notarization is the official fraud-deterrent process that assures the transaction parties that a document is authentic and trusted. It is a three-part process performed by a Notary Public that includes vetting, certifying, and record-keeping. Notarizations are referred to as "notarial acts."

If you are visiting a Notary Public for the first time or are unfamiliar with the process altogether, the whole thing can seem intimidating. There are a lot of services that provide excellent notary services, like Precision Signing. However, knowing what to accept and educating yourself regarding the process is always helpful and can save you both time and money.


Things to remember when visiting a Notary Public

Every state has its laws and judicial requirements when it comes to Notary Publics. The State of California, just like every other state, has its handbook that details the requirements for setting up a Notary Public as well as the mandatory documentation and steps necessary to get documents notarized. It is quite a long read with a lot of information that is not relevant for applicants wishing to get their documents notarized, so it is better to read through this article instead.

Here are the essential requirements you will need to fulfill when visiting a Notary Public:

  • The documents

You will need to bring the documents that need to be notarized. Getting the documents sounds like the obvious first step. Many people come to a Notary Public with the documents only to fill them onsite. To expedite the entire process, you can come with the papers pre-filled, except for any fields that require signatures. You must be careful not to sign anywhere since the signature in many cases can only be executed in the presence of the Notary Public.

  • All parties or signatories

Everyone who is part of the signing process must be present at the Notary Public. While some documents may need the signature of a single person, in many cases like contracts, there are several individuals or parties involved. The signatures of whoever is required on the document being notarized must be present at the time of notarization.

  • Identification

Before the start of any process, checking the identification of the parties involved is a must. You must carry official identification papers that prove your identity and deem you eligible for getting your documents notarized. A certificate of acknowledgment is not completed unless a Notary Public can ensure that the individuals or parties involved have presented “Satisfactory Evidence” that they are indeed who they claim to be. Satisfactory Evidence means the absence of any information, evidence, or other circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the individual is not the individual they claim to be and (A) identification documents or (B) the oath of a single credible witness or (C) the oaths of two credible witnesses under penalty of perjury.


Per 2021 Notary Public Handbook pg 10

The notary public can establish the identity of the signer using identification documents as follows (Civil Code section 1185(b)(3) and (4)):

  1. There is reasonable reliance on any one of the following forms of identification, provided it is current or was issued within 5-years:

a. An identification card or driver’s license issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles;


b. A United States passport;


c. An inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation if the inmate is in custody in California state prison;


d. Any form of inmate identification issued by a sheriff’s department, if the inmate is in custody in a local detention facility; or

  1. There is reasonable reliance on any one of the following forms of identification, provided that it also contains a photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number:

(a) A valid consular identification document issued by a consulate from the applicant’s country of citizenship or a valid passport from the applicant’s country of citizenship;


(b) A driver’s license issued by another state or by a Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses;


(c) An identification card issued by another state;


(d) A United States military identification card (caution: current military identification cards might not contain all the required information);


(e) An employee identification card issued by an agency or office of the State of California, or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California.

Recent documents are desirable as they contain the most accurate information, such as changing legal name due to divorce or marriage, and picture identification is also more accurate.

  • Witnesses

Witnesses are sometimes required to further the process of notarizing documents. You need one or more witnesses who are independent observers to ascertain the identity of the signers. More specifically, this is a credible witness. On the other hand, someone there to ensure that the signers present signed the documents are called the signature witnesses. Signature witnesses can testify that they observed the signing process but cannot vouch for the identity of the signers.

The signers may need to have either one or two witnesses. The oath of a single credible witness is sufficient in case the witness is personally acquainted with the Notary Public. If the Notary Public does not know the witnesses personally, then two credible witnesses are required.

Credible witnesses must make sure and be ready to testify under oath that:

  • The individual signing the documents is the one named in the documents

  • They are personally acquainted with the signer

  • Satisfactory proof that the signer can't obtain an identification other than the one provided

  • The signer does not have any other identification documents that contradict the identification submitted

  • They have no vested interest in the documents being signed.

  • They do not gain any financial benefit from the process.

The credible witnesses need to sign the notary journal and submit identification documents so that the notary can enter their details in the journal.

  • Notary fee

Notary Publics are providing a service for which they need to be compensated. If you are going in for notarization, you must be prepared to pay the notary fee. The notary fee is a nominal amount, and most states have laws regarding the notary fee. In California, there is a maximum of $15 that a Notary Public can charge for each signature notarized in an acknowledgment. Compared to the cost, Notary Publics provide an invaluable service without which many documents may be useless. This chart goes into more detail about the maximum fees allowed for California Notary Publics.



Service

Description

Maximum Fee

Acknowledgments

Acknowledgment or proof of a deed or other instrument, to include the seal and the writing of the certificate

$15 for each signature

Oaths/Affirmations

Administering an oath or affirmation to one person

$15

Jurats

Executing the jurat including the seal

$15

Deposition Services

All services rendered in connection with taking a deposition

-Administering the oath to the witness

-Certificate to the deposition


$30 $7 $7

Voting Materials

Notarize signatures on vote by mail ballot identification envelopes or other voting materials

$0

Powers of Attorney

Certifying a copy of a power of attorney under Probate Code section 4307

$15

Veteran’s Benefits

United States military veteran’s application or claim for a pension, allotment, allowance, compensation, insurance, or any other veteran’s benefits (Government Code section 6107)

$0

Immigration Forms

A notary public qualified and bonded as an immigration consultant may enter data provided by the client on immigration forms provided by a federal or state agency

$15 per individual for each set of forms



Finding the best notary service near you

There are plenty of Notary Publics in the Precision Signing network. Precision Signing provides excellent nationwide service, including general notary work and loan document signing services. It is a hassle-free and speedy mobile notary service, just what you need from a Notary Public.


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