Does a notary have to watch you sign a document?

PandaDoc Notary knowledge center

If you’ve ever needed a document notarized, you may have wondered if you can bring a document that has already been signed to a notary. Though there are some cases where this is permitted, there are requirements that must be met to be considered valid. So, does a notary have to watch you sign a document in person? 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about notarizing signed documents and how Remote Online Notarization (RON) can help you notarize documents with ease.

Does a notary have to watch you sign a document?

Yes, a notary must witness you signing the document for a notarization to be considered valid and legally binding.

A signed document can be notarized in some instances if it meets the state legal requirements.

It should be noted, however, that the practice of notarizing documents that have already been signed is limited to one type of notarial act—acknowledgments

This is because the primary purpose of notarization is to have a notary verify that everyone who must sign the document is who they say they are and sign as. They must also ensure the document was understood and willingly signed.

In most situations, a notary cannot carry out these duties unless they are there to witness the signatures personally. This ensures the validity of their notarization as well as that of the signatures. 

Since most types of notarization require that the signers personally appear before a notary public to provide their signature(s) before they can notarize, you will have to make time to meet with a notary in advance. In the past, this meant going through the lengthy and often expensive process of connecting with a traditional in-person or mobile notary

Today, Remote Online Notarization (RON) allows you to connect virtually with a commissioned notary via a two-way online connection to legally eSign and notarize your documents quickly. Rather than paying excessive fees and waiting for a notary to become available, online notarization services are at your fingertips whenever you may need them.

Can you notarize an already signed document?

In most cases, a document cannot be legally notarized if the document has been signed before the notarization session. This is because a notary public is tasked with serving as a neutral witness to a document signing before they can sign and notarize the document.

A document that has been signed before a notarization session runs the risk of being fraudulent or potentially having been coerced against the signer’s will.

Even though most documents cannot be notarized if they have already been signed, there is one type of document which can be notarized if signed.

When can a signed document be notarized?

Acknowledgments are the only type of document that can be notarized if they have been previously signed. 

This is permitted because an acknowledgment is simply a declaration that someone has voluntarily signed a document of their own free will. In other words, the signer is essentially just acknowledging that a signature was indeed provided by themselves. 

As long as the signer is present at the time of notarization to confirm that the signature is theirs, the notary can notarize the document.

Even though acknowledgments are the only type of notarial act that can be signed in advance, there are still plenty of ways you can simplify your life when you need notarization. Online notarization makes it simple by allowing you to create, edit, e-sign, and notarize your documents whenever you need them. 

How to notarize a document if signer is not present?

To notarize a document, the signers must be present at the time of notarization. While you can notarize an acknowledgment document that has been previously signed in some cases, the signer must still be present at the time of notarization to confirm the validity of their signature.

Notarizing documents with PandaDoc Notary is easy and convenient

Does a notary have to watch you sign a document? In almost all cases, the answer is yes. 

When you need to have a signature notarized, RON makes it easier than ever to capture your signatures without the time and hassle that comes with scheduling traditional notarization services. 

With the convenience, security, and all-in-one flexibility that RON offers compared to the traditional notarization experience. 

PandaDoc Notary provides a user-friendly and secure Remote Online Notarization platform that helps you cover all your notarization needs. Whether you need to create, edit, eSign, and notarize documents, the PandaDoc Notary platform makes it as simple and secure as possible to notarize whenever and wherever you need it. 

Request a demo to learn more about how PandaDoc Notary can help you.

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