General Information

What is a Notary Public? A Notary Public is an official of integrity appointed by the California Secretary of State to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official acts including administering oaths and affirmations and performing other acts related to the signing of important documents as authorized by law.

It is the foremost duty of a Notary to screen the signers of particularly sensitive documents — such as property deeds, wills and powers of attorney — for their true identity, their willingness to sign without duress or intimidation, and their awareness of the general importance of the document. Some notarizations also require the Notary to put the signer under an oath declaring under penalty of perjury that the information contained in a document is true and correct.

How much does a notarization cost? Fees are set state law. In the state of California the law limits the amount to $10.00 per signature, but a notary may charge an appointment or travel fee.

What are mobile notary public services? A mobile Notary Public is a notary that travels to a home, office, or specified location in order to administer oaths, affirmations, and perform notarization of documents as authorized by law.

Why are documents notarized? To deter fraud. An impartial witness (the Notary) ensures that the signers of documents are who they say they are and not impostors. The Notary makes sure that signers have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly. Notaries create a trustworthy environment where strangers are able to share documents with full confidence in their authenticity.

May any document be notarized? For a document to be notarized, it must contain: 1) text committing the signer in some way, 2) an original signature (not a photocopy) of the document signer, 3) a notarial “certificate” which may appear on the document itself or on an attachment. The Notary fills in the certificate, signs it, then applies his or her seal to complete the notarization.

Does notarization mean that a document is "true" or "legal"? No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. Notaries certify the identity of signers. The signers are responsible for the content of the documents.

May a Notary give legal advice or draft legal documents? Absolutely not. A Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents for others or acting as a legal advisor unless he or she is also an attorney. Violators can be fined or jailed for the unauthorized practice of law.

Do I have to appear personally to receive notarization of my documents? Yes. You must personally appear before the Notary at the time of notarization with proper identification.

Can you notarize incomplete documents? No. A notary public cannot notarize a document that contains blanks or is incomplete.

May a Notary notarize immigration forms? Only a few immigration forms need to be notarized, including the Affidavit of Support (I-134) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that no one may help prepare or file another person’s immigration papers unless he or she is an attorney or a U.S. Justice Department-approved “accredited representative.”

 

* California Notaries Public Cannot Perform Notarial Services Online.

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