What is a Notary Public?

What is a Notary Public?   A responsible person appointed by state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths.


Identification of individual. (1) A notarial officer has personal knowledge of the identity of an individual appearing before the officer if the individual is personally known to the officer through dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the individual has the identity claimed. (2) A notarial officer has satisfactory evidence of the identity of an individual appearing before the officer if the officer can identify the individual: (a) By means of: (i) A passport, driver’s license, or government-issued nondriver identification card, which is current or expired not more than three years before performance of the notarial act; or (ii) Another form of government identification issued to an individual, which is current or expired not more than three years before performance of the notarial act, contains the signature or a photograph of the individual, and is satisfactory to the officer; or (b) By a verification on oath or affirmation of a credible witness personally appearing before the officer and personally known to the officer and who provides satisfactory evidence of his or her identity as described in (a) of this subsection. (3) A notarial officer may require an individual to provide additional information or identification credentials necessary to assure the officer of the identity of the individual.   42.45.050 


Personal appearance. If a notarial act relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on a record, the individual making the statement or executing the signature shall appear personally before the  Revised 6/28/2018 notarial officer. [2017 c 281 § 6.]    42.45.040 


Refusal to perform notarial act. (1) A notarial officer has the authority to refuse to perform a notarial act if the officer is not satisfied that: (a) The individual executing the record is competent or has the capacity to execute the record; or (b) The individual’s signature is knowingly and voluntarily made. (2) A notarial officer has the authority to refuse to perform a notarial act unless refusal is prohibited by law other than this chapter.  42.45.060   [2017 c 281 § 8.] 


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. In a society in which business dealings between strangers are the norm rather than the exception, 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.


Is notarization required by law?

For many documents, yes. Certain affidavits, real estate deeds and other documents may not be legally binding unless they are properly notarized.


How does a Notary identify a signer?

A notary must view a current government-issued photo ID that has a photograph, physical description and a signature. A driver’s license, military ID or passport will usually be acceptable.


How much does a notarization cost?

Fees vary – $10.00 per notarial act as set by the State of Washington.  24/7 Traveling Notary Service exclusively offers mobile notary services to meet with clients in a convenient location so in addition to the notarization fee, there is a travel fee.  Travel fees are based upon mileage, time of day, and if applicable, tolls and parking fees.


Does notarization mean that a document is “true” or “legal”?

No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. The signers are responsible for the content of the documents.  Notaries certify the identity of signers and that signers have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.


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. Please consult an attorney with any questions.


May a Notary notarize immigration forms?

Only a few immigration forms need to be notarized, including the Affidavit of Support (I-134).  24/7 Traveling Notary Service does not offer bilingual notary services, so if a document is written in a foreign language, search your local listings for a bilingual Notary near you.


May a Notary prepare or offer advice on immigration forms?

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.” Non-attorneys may provide clerical, secretarial or translating assistance with USCIS forms, as long as no advice or interpretation is given. Courts have held that even a non-attorney’s selection of which legal forms to complete can constitute the unauthorized practice of law.


May a Notary refuse to serve people?

Only if the Notary is uncertain of a signer’s identity, willingness or general competence, or has a good reason to suspect fraud. Notaries should not refuse to serve anyone because of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or because the person is not a client or customer. Discrimination on any basis is not a suitable policy for a public official.


How does a U.S. Notary differ from a Notario Publico ?

A U.S. Notary is not the same as a Latin Notario Publico. In Latin America, a Notario Publico is a high-ranking official like a judge, or an attorney. Unlike a Notario Publico, a U.S. Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents or giving advice on immigration or other matters, unless he or she is also an attorney.


National Notary Association

National Notary Association™
9350 De Soto Avenue, P.O. Box 2402
Chatsworth, CA 91313-2402 USA
Telephone: 1-818-739-4000
www.NationalNotary.org

© 2011 National Notary Association™. All Rights Reserved. P44549

Note:  The National Notary Association™ is a nonprofit organization.  The National Notary Association™ provides important information as a public service to consumers, immigrants and others who depend on Notaries to lend trust to their documentary transactions. As an advocate for sound notarial laws, the NNA is in strong support of the Federal Government’s major initiative to combat abuses of consumers and immigrants.

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Washington State Department of Licensing 

  

How to obtain an Apostille or Certificate of Authentication

Please contact:

Washington Secretary of State  (360) 725-0377

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