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Notary 101: What Does a Notary Public Do?

You may have needed a notarization at some point in time and had to meet with a notary public, whether in-person or digitally. But who are the people who are stamping your docs and what do they do?

Let’s take a closer look at the people who make notarizations happen: the notary public.

What is a Notary Public?

The National Notary Association defines a notary public as, “an official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.” These acts are called notarizations or notarial acts.

Notaries are also publicly commissioned, meaning they have a set of rules they need to abide by.

Are There Different Types of Notaries?

There are two different types of notaries: common-law notaries and civil-law notaries. A common-law notary is not a lawyer and is forbidden from providing legal advice. However, civil-law notaries are indeed lawyers who pass the bar and can give you legal advice.

[Tweet "A notary prevents fraud by witnessing a doc signing and verifying its authenticity."]

What Does a Notary Public Do?

Regardless if you meet with a notary in-person or digitally, the main duty of a notary is to help prevent fraud by witnessing the signing of documents and verifying their authenticity.

But notaries don’t stop there. They also:

  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Take affidavits and statutory declarations
  • Take acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances
  • Protest notes and bills of exchange
  • Provide notice of foreign drafts

Notaries must witness when someone signs a document. Previously, if you needed to find a notary, you had to meet one in-person in order to get your document notarized. But with the advent of online notarization, customers can get their documents notarized online, by connecting with commissioned notary public via video and audio.

How Do You Become a Notary Public?

Every state's requirements vary from state to state. But many states follow similar steps in order to designate new notaries public. Here's are some general steps you may take if you want to be come a notary public in your state:

1. Meet the qualifications for your state. (Pro tip: your Secretary of State's website usually has a list of requirements so be sure to check there first.)

2. Complete and submit your application to become a notary public and pay the fee.

3. Pass a state-administered exam if required by your state.

4. Get sworn in as a new notary public and receive your commission!

Some states require a notary public to carry Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance, complete a background check, or receive training from an approved vendor. It's always a good rule of thumb to check with your local Secretary of State to ensure you take the right steps to become a notary public.

Are you a notary public? Tell us about your day to day by sending us a tweet @notarize!

Posted in: eNotary online notary

You have notarization questions, we have notarization answers. While we at Notarize pride ourselves on providing helpful resources (like this blog!) to demystify notarization, we’re not lawyers and don’t give legal advice. Pro tip: always check with your own attorneys, advisors, or document recipients if you have further questions about notarization or digitally notarized docs.

We're Opening the Notarize Platform, Adding 1,000 Notaries

At Notarize, we’ve seen firsthand how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is throwing the worlds of real estate and notary into crisis. The sacred notarial process – rooted in face-to-face interaction for hundreds of years – cannot function amidst a life-threatening pandemic. Industries that rely upon notaries are grinding to a halt.

To help solve the challenge of our time, we are opening the Notarize platform to commissioned notaries and title agents to meet the surge in demand for online notarizations.

Read more

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