Can a Notary just Sign and Seal ?

Can a Notary Just Sign and Seal ?

No, a notary can NEVER just sign and stamp. Your signature and seal are there to say that you did what the notary certificate says you did. Without a notary certificate, what did you do? What is your signature and seal saying you did? So, no, never just sign and stamp.

Please note that there is a really strong belief in many circles that you, as the notary, don’t get to pick which notary certificate is being added to a document when there is not one pre-printed on the document. Many folks (and even some state Attorneys General or Secretaries of State) have said that the notary picking the notary certificate is the unauthorized practice of law.

Peter J Van Alstyne (founder of the Notary Law Institute) said this idea originated with Raymond Rothman (the founder of the National Notary Association); Van Alstyne also says it is not true — that picking the notary certificate is an inherent power of the notary because it is YOUR statement about what YOU saw and did. Check with the Secretary of State or Attorney General in your state (or an attorney in your state) to see if they have said anything official about this. If not, you may want to err on the side of caution and just explain the difference to the signer and let them pick.

As a notary, you should be able to explain that there are 2 basic, common types of notarizations: in one of them, the signer is simply saying they signed the document freely and willingly (they acknowledge signing it, so it’s called an acknowledgment). In this form, they may have signed it previously or may sign it in your presence, but that is all they are saying. Your certificate in such a case may include information about how you verified their identity (“known to me or proven on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person who executed the foregoing document”); or it may not. It will NOT say they took an oath or swore or affirmed.

In the other type of notarization, the signer must sign the document in your presence and swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the statements contained within it are true to the best of their knowledge or that they will do what it says. Such a sworn statement will be followed by a jurat, which is the name for a notary certificate that says they signed it in your presence and swore or affirmed to it. The standard short form of a jurat is “Subscribed and sworn to before me this_ day of _ , ___.”

So, you explain the difference between the 2 types of notarization and let them pick. Once they do, you can add it by rubber stamp, attaching a loose certificate, or by hand-written printing on their document.

I have both jurat and acknowledgment stamps from the American Association of Notaries that I use when there is not a pre-printed notary certificate on the document. They work great. If there is no room on the document for the rubber stamp, then I will attach a loose certificate instead.



About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed. Mobile Notary Public and Signing Agent, Freelance Writer, and Ordained Minister. Willing servant to cats. Science fiction and fantasy fan, avid reader, Founder of the Darrell Awards. Author of _Getting Started As A Notary Signing Agent_ (available from Please be kind to one another.
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