Questions And Answers

Q: What Is A Notary Public?
A: The court defines a notary public as a “public ministerial officer,” an agent for the state, and a witness of notarial writing and signatures. A Notary Public is an honest, moral and responsible member of our society. They are appointed by the office of the Secretary of State to witness by an official seal and written acknowledgement, or jurat, the signing of documents, as well as administer an oath.

Q: What Does A Notary Do?
A: The most frequent service a Notary Public performs is the simple one of taking someone’s acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the solemn statement of a person that he or she signed a paper of his or her own free will. The notary verifies the person’s identity, presses his/her notary seal on the paper and signs it where the notary is meant to sign.

Q.Does the notary approve the documents?
A:Notarization does not guarantee that the information on a document is accurate or legal. The signer is responsible for the content of the document. The Notary Public simply certifies the signer’s identity, usually by verifying a current identifying document containing a photo, physical description, and signature. Government issued photo IDs, such as driver’s licenses, state ID cards, passports, military IDs, and inmate IDs are sufficient for certification. Social Security cards, birth Certificates, credit cards, immigration cards, and temporary driver’s licenses are not suitable for certification.

Q: How Does A U.S. Notary Differ From A Notario Publico?
A: 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 Public is forbidden from preparing legal documents or giving legal advice unless he or she is also an attorney.

Q: Why Are Documents Notarized?
A: Notarization is intended to deter fraud. The impartial witness (Notary Public) ensures that the signer of a document is who they say they are and that the person signed the document willingly.

Q: Does Notarization Mean That The Information On A Document Is True Or Legal?
A: No. Notarization does not prove that information or statements on a document are true, accurate or legal. The signer is responsible for the content of the documents. The Notary Public certifies the identity of the signer.

Q: How Does A Notary Public Identify A Signer?
A: Generally, the Notary Public will ask to see a current identifying document that has a photograph, physical description and a signature.

Q: Is Identification Required For A Notarization?
A: Each signer must either present a current photo ID; or have two other persons present who will swear to the signer’s identity, each of whom has a good, current photo ID.

Q: What Is Acceptable Identification?
A: All signers must have a government issued photo identification to present to the Notary Public at the time of signing. Examples: 1.) Driver’s License or State ID Card; 2.) U.S. Passport; 3.) U.S. Military ID; 4.) Inmate ID, but must be prisoners in custody; 5.) Foreign Passport stamped by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Q: What Is Unacceptable Identification?
A: The following will not be accepted as acceptable identification: 1.) Social Security Card; 2.) Birth Certificate; 3.) Credit/Bank Cards; 4.) Temporary Driver’s License; 5.) Driver’s License without photograph; 6.) Immigration Card.

Q: Can A Notary Notarize For A Stranger With No Identification?
A: Yes. When a document signer is not personally known to the Notary Public and is not able to present reliable identification documents, that signer can be identified on the oath or affirmation of a credible identifying witness. The word of a credible identifying witness is satisfactory evidence of identity.

Q: Does A Document Have To Be Signed In The Notary’s Presence?
A: Yes and No. The form most frequently completed by the Notary Public is the acknowledgment. Documents requiring acknowledgments do not need to be signed in the Notary’s presence. However, the signer must appear before the Notary at the time of notarization to acknowledge that he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document. The second type of document completed by a Notary Public is the jurat. The jurat is identified by the wording “Subscribed and sworn to” immediately above the place where the Notary Public signs his/her name. A jurat must be signed in the Notary’s presence.

Q: Can A Signer Use A Signature By Mark?
A: A person who cannot sign his or her name because of illiteracy or disability may instead use a mark as a signature, as long as there are two impartial witnesses to the making of the mark (in addition to the Notary).

Q: Is there a difference between a notary seal with ink or an embossed “raised” seal?
A: The embossed “raised” seal for the most part is not used by professional notaries. The reason being is that there are many documents in this day and age that require faxing or scanning and the embossed seal generally can not be seen once you make a copy or send a fax. Often times, one has to take a pencil and rub it across the seal so that it can be seen. This makes the document look less presentable and is generally not preferred by most people in that instance. We at Atlanta Mobile Notaries do carry both and we can use an embossed seal if that is your preference but we generally do not recommend it.

Q: What if I can not sign my name?
A: People who cannot sign their name due to illiteracy or disability can use a mark as a signature as long as a notary and two other impartial witnesses are present. A document can be notarized when the signer is hospitalized or in a care home facility, but the notary must make every effort to ensure that the signer is not incapacitated and that the signers understand what they are signing.

Q:What is an acknowledgement?
It is a notarial act in which a Notary certifies having positively identified a document signer who personally appeared before the Notary and admitted having signed the document freely. Shows that acknowledging party appeared personally before the officer (e.g. Notary Public) taking the acknowledgement. Identifies acknowledging party by name corresponding to acknowledge document. Signed by officer’s taking acknowledgment. Sealed with officer’s official seal (if applicable).A: Proves document – signature’s authenticity. Essential elements of the Certificate of Acknowledgement:Entitles document to be accepted for filing and recording. In order for a notary to issue acknowledgement, it is not necessary for the document to be signed in his or her presence. However, the signer must still appear before the notary at the time of the acknowledgement to swear he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document under his or her own will. Some services, such as jurats, require the document actually be signed in the notary’s presence. A jurat requires the wording “subscribed and sworn to” on the document just above where the Notary Public signs his or her name.

Q: What is a Jurat?
A: A notarial act in which a Notary certifies having watched the signing of a document and administered an oath or affirmation.
Compelling a document signer to be truthful is the main purpose of the notarial act called a jurat. The Notary’s function in executing a jurat is to appeal to the signer’s conscience and to initiate a process that could result in a criminal conviction for perjury if the signer is found to be lying under oath. In executing a jurat, the Notary must watch the person sign the document, then have the signer make either a solemn, oral promise of truthfulness to a Supreme Being (called an oath) or a promise on one’s own personal honor (called an affirmation). The oath and affirmation have the same legal effect. Jurats are common with documents that may be used as evidence in court proceedings, such as depositions and affidavits.

The appropriate verbal wording for an oath for a jurat is as follows:
“Do you solemnly swear that the statements in this document are true to the best of your knowledge and belief, so help you God?”

The verbal wording for an affirmation for a jurat is as follows:
“Do you solemnly affirm that the statements in this document are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?”

Oaths and affirmations also may be executed without reference to a document. An example would be the oath of office given to a public official. In this case, the oath or affirmation is a notarial act in its own right. Most often, though, Notaries administer oaths and affirmations for jurats in connection with documents.]

Q.How is a Juart different from an Acknowledgement?
A. Jurat is an officer’s certificate showing that: Officer administered an oath to the affiant signing. Affiant swore under oath that facts stated are true. Affiant’s signature was witnessed by the officer.Q: How Do You Correct A Name That Has Been Misspelled On The Document?
A: Only the document signer has authority to make any changes on the document. When correcting a document simply line through the mistake with ink, write the correction above or beside, initial and date the correction.

Q: Can A Notary Certify A Copy Of A Birth Or Death Certificate?
A: No. A Notary Public cannot certify a copy of a birth or death certificate. Certified copies of birth and death records should be referred to the State Bureau of Vital Statistics or County Clerk’s office in the county where the birth occurred. For foreign birth certificates, a person should contact the consulate of the country of origin.

Q: Can A Notary Certify A Copy Of A Passport Or A Driver’s License?
A: No. State statutes prohibits a notary public from certifying any documents other than: 1.) copies of powers of attorney and, 2.) copies of entries in his or her notary journal. BUT, a “copy certification by document custodian” serves as an acceptable alternative.

Q: What Is A “Copy Certification By Document Custodian”?
A: The permanent keeper of the document – the document custodian – certifies the copy, not the Notary. The custodian makes a photocopy of the original document; makes a written statement about the trueness, correctness, and completeness of the copy; signs that statement before a Notary; and takes an oath or affirmation regarding the truth of the statement. The Notary, having witnessed the signing and given the oath or affirmation, executes a Jurat.

Q: Can An Undated Document Be Notarized?
A: Yes. If there is a space for a date it should be filled in with the correct date or lined through by the document signer if incorrect. If the document simply doesn’t have a date, it is acceptable for the signer to date the document next to their signature or mark, thus establishing a document date for practical purposes.

Q: Can A Fax Or A Photocopy Be Notarized?
A: Yes. A photocopy or fax may be notarized, but only if it bears an original signature. That is, the copy must have been signed with pen and ink. A photocopied or faxed signature may never be notarized. Care should be taken to copy faxes from thermal paper to regular paper before proceeding in having a document notarized in order to avoid rejection by public recorders.

Q: Can A Will Be Notarized?
A: No and Yes. A Notary Public should not proceed in notarizing a document which purports to be a will unless clear instructions and notarial wording are provided, and only upon specific instructions by an attorney.

Q: Can A Notary List Two Signers On One Notarial Certificate?
A: Yes. If two signers appear before the Notary Public at the same time, the names may appear on the same certificate.

Q: Can Notaries Give Legal Advice?
A: No. State law strictly prohibits Notaries from the practice of law. Notaries should never give advice on any matter relating to a document unless they are an attorney or professionals certified or licensed in a relevant area of expertise.

Q: Can Notaries Draft Legal Documents?
A: No. A Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents for others unless he or she is also an attorney.

Q: Do you offer fingerprint services?
A: Yes. There are some documents that require a thumbprint so as a result our notaries do carry fingerprint ink. This service is also generally available at your local police station. If you require this service from Atlanta Mobile Notaries you must provide the fingerprint cards and the instructions that came from the fingerprint requestor.
Q: Can Any Document Be Notarized?
A: 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, and then applies his or her seal to complete the notarization.

Q: Is Notarization Required By Law?
A: For many documents, yes. Certain affidavits, real estate deeds and other documents may not be legally binding unless they are properly notarized.

Q: Can A Notary Notarize or Prepare Immigration Papers?
A: Only a few immigration forms need to be notarized, such as the Affidavit of Support (1-134), but U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulations state that no one may 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 can provide clerical, secretarial or translating assistance with INS forms, as long as no advice is given. However, courts have held that even the selection of which forms to complete can constitute the practice of law, since the filing of INS forms creates legal consequences having a substantial impact on the applicant.

Q: Can Someone Sign A Notarized Document If They Are Hospitalized Or In A Care Home Facility?
A: Yes. But every effort must be made by the Notary Public, to be sure that the signer is not incapacitated (which only a doctor can certify to). The signer must be able to communicate with the Notary that they understand what they are signing and the reason why.

Q: Is “Back Dating” Legal?
A: No. State law is very clear that a notary certificate must be dated for the day that it is signed.

Q: Can A Notary Refuse To Serve People?
A: 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.

Q: What Is A Signing Agent?
A: A Signing Agent is a Notary Public with distinctive expertise in notarizing loan document signings.

Q: Why Use A Signing Agent?
A: Lenders who offer loans across the country rely heavily on Signing Agents to complete the signing portion of the transaction. They could not offer their service as effectively or efficiently without Signing Agents to assist the borrowers in executing the documents properly. Signing Agents are expected to know “more than just a Notary.” They can answer the “WHAT” questions, by giving a definition, but not the “WHY” questions, in regards to loan terms and conditions. They also “IDENTIFY” the documents, not “EXPLAIN”. The Signing Agent knows the key features and information on the documents and secure proper signatures. A reputable Signing Agent is important to find as they act on behalf of the Lender and ultimately service the Borrower

Q: What Areas Do You Cover?
A: All of Metro Columbia . We are certified to work anywhere in the State ofSouth Carolina. If you require work outside of the MetroColumbia  area we need at least 72 hours notice.

Q: What Are Your Fees?
A: Fees are determined by the complexity of the services requested (refinancing, 80/20, HELOC, etc), e-docs or overnight, time of day (after hour emergencies are from 11 pm to 7 am), day of week, excessive fax backs, splitting a package, local pickup and/or delivery of docs, area we are traveling to and any other special requests we are asked to do.

A notary, or notary public, is a “public ministerial officer,” an agent for the state, and a witness of notarial writing and signatures. To be an Atlanta notary public, one must be an honest, moral, and responsible member of our society. Notaries are appointed by the office of the Secretary of State and must take an oath and sign a written acknowledgement called a jurat under seal.

Q: Why do we notarize documents?
A:To deter fraud. Having a notary serve as an impartial third-party witness ensures that the signers of a document are who they say they are and that they signed the document under their own free will. The most common service an Atlanta Mobile Notaries provides is to t an acknowledgement. An acknowledgement is a person’s sworn statement that he or she signed a paper by his or her own free will. To do this, a notary must verify the signer’s identity, apply his or her seal to the document, and then sign it.

Q: Does the notary approve the documents?
A:Notarization does not guarantee that the information on a document is accurate or legal. As such the notary and the witness are under no obligation to read or review the document notarized. The signer is responsible for the content of the document. The Notary Public simply certifies the signer’s identity, usually by verifying a current identifying document containing a photo, physical description, and signature. Government issued photo IDs, such as driver’s licenses, state ID cards, passports, military IDs, and inmate IDs are sufficient for certification. Social Security cards, birth Certificates, credit cards, immigration cards, and temporary driver’s licenses are not suitable for certification.

Q:What if I don’t have ID?
A:If a signer does not have a state or government issued photo ID that is not expired, then he or she will need two people present who will swear to his or her identity in order to be certified. The oath of a certifying witness is satisfactory evidence for certification. Those two witnesses will have to have proper ID. Medicaid cards, social security cards, credit cards, work IDs are not valid forms of identification.

Q:What is an acknowledgement?
A:In order for a notary to issue acknowledgement, it is not necessary for the document to be signed in his or her presence. However, the signer must still appear before the notary at the time of the acknowledgement to swear he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document under his or her own will. Some services, such as jurats, require the document actually be signed in the notary’s presence. A jurat requires the wording “subscribed and sworn to” on the document just above where the Notary Public signs his or her name.

Q. How does a Notary Administers an Oath or Affirmation?
A: One of the most important duties of the Notary is to administer oaths and affirmations, which are solemn promises of truthfulness or fidelity made by a signer, witness, or new office-holder. An oath is a pledge on one’s personal honor, but both are legally equivalent and subject the oath-taker or affirmant to penalties for perjury. Both may be notarial acts in their own right — as “swearing in” a new public official — or they may be part of the process of performing an acknowledgment or jurat notarization.It is customary for the Notary to ask the oath-taker or affirmant to raise a right hand in a pledging gesture or to place it over one’s heart. The Notary has discretion to require any bit of ceremony — such as placing one’s left hand on a Bible or other revered text — that the Notary believes will be most compelling by appeal to the individual’s conscience. Oaths and affirmations should be taken seriously and always administered with a degree of formality
Q:Are there documents that can not be notarized?
A: Georgia notaries should only refuse service when they suspect fraud or are uncertain of a signer’s identity, willingness, or competence. Notaries should never refuse service on the basis of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or because the signer is not a client. It is rare, but there are times when we cannot notarize a document as requested. We require that the document NOT be signed prior to our arrival, or that it be resigned if already signed. Since the signer is always required to appear personally before the notary, we cannot provide notarization via fax. We also must decline to pre/post date document notarizations. Please understand the distinction between the document date and the notarization date. The document date is the effective date of the document and is of no concern to the notary. The notarization date is the actual date the signer appears before the notary and must be accurately reflected on the document.

Q. What are Prohibited Notarial Acts?
A. All notaries must carefully and dutifully follow their state guidelines when executing notarial acts. Not only do state statutes and administrative rules define what notaries may legally do, they also define acts that notaries are prohibited from performing.
These prohibitions are designed to protect the public and help ensure the credibility and integrity of transactions involving notaries. All conscientious and law-abiding notaries will decline to proceed with a notarial act if asked or pressured to perform a prohibited act. While some customers view this as an inconvenience, they should instead appreciate the notary’s efforts to ensure a lawfully executed transaction.

A notary cannot officiate if the document signer is not physically present.
A notary cannot officiate if the document contains missing pages or blanks that should be complete at the time of notarization.
The document cannot be dated later than the day of notarization.
A notary cannot post-date a notarial certificate (his/her official statement at the end of the document), or date it earlier than the actual date of notarization.
A notary cannot sign/seal a blank notarial certificate.
A notary cannot proceed with notarization if the signer cannot be positively identified through personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of identification. (Notary is prohibited from relying solely on personal knowledge – satisfactory evidence of identification MUST always be presented.)
A notary cannot proceed if the document is not “original,” bearing the signer’s original, wet-ink signature (not a photocopy or fax of a signed document).
A notary cannot proceed if the required notarial act is not indicated by the document, the signer or someone connected to the document.
Notaries cannot authenticate or validate objects.
Notaries cannot give advice or opinions that should be given by an attorney—this is unlicensed practice of law.
A notary cannot advertise services in a foreign language without a disclaimer explaining that he/she is not an attorney.
Notaries cannot translate the English words, “notary public” into any other language for purposes of advertising notarial services or for any other purpose.
Notaries cannot sign with any name or initials other than the name or initials that appear on their official commission certificate issued by their state authority.
A notary cannot proceed with notarization if the signer appears confused or mentally incapable of understanding the transaction.
A notary cannot proceed with notarization if he/she is a named party in the transaction, or if he/she will derive a financial or material benefit. (This does not apply to employee notaries earning their regular salary.)
A notary may not alter a notarial certificate after the notarial act is complete. (Generally, the notarial act is complete when the signer takes the document and leaves the notary’s presence.)
A notary may not fill out a notarial certificate with information that the notary knows is false.
A notary may not certify the accuracy of a translation. (The notary may take the oath of a person who swears the translation is accurate.)
A notary may not proceed with notarization if he/she thinks or knows the transaction is illegal.
A notary may not proceed with notarization in situations that may or will compromise the notary’s impartiality.
The notary may not proceed with notarization when he/she is a signer of the document (notaries may not notarize their own signature).

Q: A notarized document is legally binding?
A: There is a general misconception that a notary public stamp on any document automatically makes the document legally binding, and the document is able to hold up in court. Whether or not a document is notarized has very little to do with whether or not it’s “legally binding.” All that a notary does is certify that the signatures on the document were given by the people who they claim to be by. Nothing more and nothing less. Whether or not the document is legally binding depends on what it specifies, how it specifies it, and what the applicable law says about such documents. All “notarized” means — or is supposed to mean — is that the person’s signature that appears on the document was witnessed by a state official with the authority to stamp the document as notarized and, therefore, the signature is very likely to be authentic. In the absence of a dispute as to the authenticity of the signature, the notarization has no effect on whether the document is “legally binding.” That is, notarization allows you to reasonably rely on the fact that the signature is what it purports to be. That does not make the document any more binding.

Q: Do I need to have all the pages of the document?
A: YES When the signer personally appears before the notary, he must present the entire document that he is signing. The signature page alone will not be good enough, as the notary cannot determine that the signer is signing freely and willingly if she doesn’t have the entire document. The notary has the duty to review the document briefly to be sure there are no blank lines or missing pages and that any attachments referred to in the document are present. If the notary keeps a notary journal or other official record, he must enter certain details about the document into that record. It does not matter if the signer is a spouse who is only signing one section to give spousal consent; the signer still has to present the entire document. Otherwise, how can the notary be certain the spouse knows what she is consenting to?

Q: Do I have to use an attorney to get a document notarized?
A: No you do not have to use an attorney to get a document notarized. Many attorneys are notaries so some of them can notarize documents for you. You are not required to have an attorney for any legal action wherein you represent yourself. However just because it is not required does not mean that it is not advisable, remember the notary’s role is only to ensure that the person referenced in the document actually signed it in front of the notary and that the notary identified that person. Unless the notary is an attorney, they may not give advice. This is where an attorney’s insight and input is invaluable. Also keep in mind just like doctors attorneys specialize in areas of law. You wouldn’t ask your plastic surgeon to perform a heart transplant would you? So don’t ask a personal injury attorney to draft your will. Attorneys specialize like all other professionals so use someone in their area of expertise.

Q: Why would I need a mobile notary?
A:Mobile notary service providers will travel to your location and at a time that is suitable for you, saving you precious time and money. Also mobile notaries tend to be more experienced and are better equipped to handle more complex transactions. Additionally mobile notaries will operate outside of standard business hours and can adjust to your busy schedule.

Q: Does the notary keep a copy of the documents?
A:Absolutely not, since documents often contain sensitive information (private letters, business information, identification numbers), a Notary could be held liable for damages if the signer proved his or her privacy was compromised by copies of the signer’s paperwork. A notary is not a party to the underlying transaction and as such they should not have a record of your personal information. If a Notary is concerned about keeping a record of notarial acts, the proper way to accomplish this, even if it is not a state requirement, is to keep a journal.

Q: Can you notarize something that is not in English?
A:The notary is only verifying your identity. The notary must be know with certainty that the person signing the document understands what they are signing. The notary is not a party to the transaction and as such does not have an opinion or a vested interest in the underlying document. There are some notaries that will not sign documents that are in a foreign language because they are not comfortable that the signer understands what they are signing. Also if the document is in a foreign language the notary will be unable to identify the notary certificate language. Understand the notary is signing an affirmation which obligates them if the notary can not speak the language then the y are well within their rights to refuse to notarize a document.

Q: Can we meet at Starbucks?
A: This is my absolute least favorite place to meet. I much prefer to meet client’s at home or work. Starbucks are generally crowded busy places and do not allow for privacy or discretion for your personal transaction Frequently these are no stand alone locations they are in a strip mall or inside another store. If I meet you at home I know that the person that answers the door 1234 Main Street is the person that I am looking for. At Starbucks there are many people with paperwork and laptops and only one person that I am looking for.

Q:What is proper ID? I have a birth certificate and social security card is that proper ID?
A: For an ID to be valid for notarial purposes it must meet the following requirements.
Issued by an entity in the United States ie no foreign drivers licenses.
There must be a photograph
The ID must have a signature
It must have an issue date and expiration date-( most military ID do not qualify as valid ID for this reason.)
It must have a serial number

Q:Do you need to see the ID?
A: The notary must know that the identification is authentic. This can not be done with a photocopy.

Q:Does the person have to be there to sign it?
A:Yes, in addition to verifying that the person did indeed sign the document, the notary also has to be able to state the person signed the document voluntarily and appeared to understand what they signed. This is not possible if they are not present. Speaking to them on the phone does not satisfy that requirement either.

Q:What is the difference between a notary and a lawyer?
A: A lawyer is a licensed professional who is allowed to counsel clients in legal matters and represent them in court and other forums, both formal and informal.
A notary is a licensed professional whose job includes administering oaths, taking affidavits/declarations, and most commonly, authenticating the signatures on important documents. Although some lawyers are notaries, a notary does not have authority to counsel clients or to represent their interests in legal matters. The primary purpose of the notary is to prevent fraud. The most common notary acts are an acknowledgment, where the customer declares that they understand the document and are signing voluntarily, and a document with statements that the signer swears are true and correct. A notary must be neutral and impartial and does not give advice to a customer about a document or to encourage or discourage them from signing a document. A licensed attorney can give legal advice, legal opinions, draft legal documents, or represent a client in court. A notary cannot engage in these activities. It would be unlicensed practice of law. An attorney is an advocate, looking out for the best interests of the client. A notary is neutral, not an advocate for a customer.

Q: Is it free?
A: NO. And it is not free at the places that do not charge you. Many places use notarial services as a loss leader to lure you in to buy other services and since they do not charge you they do not necessarily notarize all types of documents and since there isn’t a charge they are not necessarily adept in notarizing all types of forms and the notary may not always be available. Frequently in the mailbox, pack and ship stores the store owners will say the notary is not available if there is a long line for shipping because they make more money shipping the bank is the same way so now you have driven a long way and waited in line and you still do not have your documents notarized.