How To Properly Fill Out a Notary Certificate

As a notary, filling out a notary certificate is a huge part of your job. You'll do it on so many occasions that you'll know the process like the back of your hand.

Unfortunately, though, some notaries pick up a few bad habits along the way.

Some of these habits are harmless. Others, however, have a negative impact on how a notary fills out a certificate.

You don't want to be one of those notaries. 

That said, we've put together a brief guide on how to fill out a notary certificate. If you play by the following rules, you'll be filling out certificates like the pro you are.

No Blank Spaces

Some notaries leave blank spaces on the certificates they fill out. These blank spaces might seem harmless, but they can do some real damage.

Imagine, for instance, what would happen if someone else decided to fill in one of those blanks later?

To be fair here, some state laws don't prohibit blank spaces.

Why, though, would a notary take the risk of leaving something blank?

Especially when notary fraud is a real possibility.

Trust us on this one. Fill out all of those blanks. You don't want to be liable for any cases of fraud.

Remove Extraneous Wording

Are you familiar with those pronouns on the notary certificates you fill out? 

Guess what?

They're extraneous and need to be removed.

This mistake is another seemingly harmless one. How, after all, can failing to scratch out a few inapplicable pronouns lead to fraud? Can't people tell that "Sarah" is not a man?

As it turns out, making those assumptions are just bad for business. Not only that, but the plural option on a notary certificate makes it easy for someone to add another name to the document.

As a result, you must cross out the pronouns that don't apply to the person you're notarizing. Further still, the marks you make over the wording should be big and bold.

Venue

In all honesty, we doubt that many notaries forget to add the state and county. Even so, we have to say it: Please indicate the state and county in which the notarization takes place. 

This step is especially important since laws differ from state to state and county to county. 

Date

Again, we doubt that many people make mistakes here. We do, however, need to remind you.

Write the date in. Not yesterday's date or tomorrow's date. Today's date.

Furthermore, make sure that your handwriting is clear and large. You don't want any ambiguity. You can't have, for example, someone changing your "6" into a convincing "8." 

Your Name

Print your name in the designated area. Your name must appear just as it does in the notary commission.

Not only must it appear in this fashion, but your title must be present after it. We presume that your title is "Notary Public."

Just as in the case of the date, your name must be written clearly. The print must be large and easy to make out. 

His or Her Name

You must also print the name of the person who is being notarized. If you are notarizing more than one person, each person's name must appear on the notary certificate. Be careful with this seemingly simple step. There are some names with unusual spellings and a misspelling of it  can be very costly.  The names must be printed on the certificate exactly as they appear in the body and signature lines of the document.  If the names on forms of identification differ, it should be noted in the notary journal. Additional documentation may be required in the case of a name change (such as a marriage certificate).  They cannot request that you write something different on the certificate.

You should only write names on the certificate after you have validated the identities of all parties involved from their respective forms of acceptable photo ID. As a final note here, just make sure that everything is spelled correctly and written clearly.  

Signature

Sign the certificate. Print your name and Title (Notary Public) under the signature line.

Seal

The notary certificate isn't complete without your official notary seal.

The Cost of Improperly Filling Out a Notary Certificate

You as a notary public should always be aware of the cost of any seemingly small mistake you make in performing your duties. You should have such a good routine down for a notarial signing that the chances of your making a mistake are greatly diminished. The more error free assignments you complete, the more you will receive as your reputation for competence becomes known in your community. This is also why we invite you to become a member of the Notary Depot community.

Read next: Notary Depot to immediately suspend the accounts of all North Carolina notaries

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