Notary seal vs. stamp: What’s the difference?


If you’ve ever needed a document notarized, you’ve most likely heard the terms “notary seal” and “notary stamp” used almost interchangeably. Depending on your state, there may be laws requiring one over the other or stipulating what information must be included. So, what’s the difference between a notary seal vs. stamp?

In this article, we run through everything you need to know about notary seals and stamps and how Remote Online Notarization (RON) makes it easy to receive fast and secure notarization services online when you need them. 

What is a Notary Embossing Seal?

A notary embossing seal is a tool used by notaries to authenticate a signature and apply their unique notary credentials. An embossing seal typically uses a metal crimping device that applies a round, permanent imprint to the document.

Though each state has its seal requirements, the imprint will generally include information such as:

  • Name of notary
  • The words “Notary Public”
  • The date the notary’s commission expires
  • The state seal

The downside to using a notary embossing seal is that the imprint the seal makes, while permanent, is not necessarily easy to see and does not copy well. For this reason, embossed seals are also frequently darkened with ink or used alongside an inked stamp in case document copies need to be made.

Notary embossing stamps are considered a more “traditional” method of notarizing documents since you need to meet with a notary in person to receive a notarized embossed seal. While notary embossing seals are trusted and even give a document an elevated “official” feeling, they can be limiting for several reasons.

Embossing seals provide minimal security against fraud for the most part, and they require you to spend time and money scheduling a session with a notary. Remote Online Notarization (RON) solves both issues by allowing you to meet with a state-commissioned notary virtually, online from the convenience of your home or office. 

Documents notarized with RON are not only fast and convenient, they include a level of security against fraud and error that traditional notarization simply cannot.

What is a Notary Seal?

A notary seal is an impression that is made on a notarize document by the notary public, which ensures the document has been legally notarized and is valid. A notary seal contains information unique to each notary, including:

  1. The notary’s full name
  2. The state the notary is commissioned to act within
  3. The notary’s commission expiration date.

Notary seals are usually applied as an inked or embossed stamp directly to the notarized document.

What is a Notary Stamp?

Notary stamps are inked rubber stamps that are used to notarize a document and provide the notary public’s credentials for authentication.  

Notary stamps can come in various colors, shapes, and sizes, usually round or rectangular. Each state has its own requirements for what must be included in a notary stamp. These stamps typically contain the same information as a notary embossing seal. 

Similar to notary embossing seals, notary stamps are accepted as a traditional form of notarization across the country. However, they provide limited flexibility or protection against fraud and mistakes. As more states work towards enacting RON law, it has become increasingly easy to access fast, secure, and affordable notarization services exactly when you need them.

Notary seal vs. notary stamp

If you are wondering the difference between a notary seal and a notary stamp, the simple answer is that there is not much difference between the two.

Notary stamps are simple to use, and their impressions are clear on document copies, while notary embossing seal embossers have a more official appearance.

Both a stamp and a seal are two different ways of applying a notarization seal to ensure a document is accepted as legally binding.

Different states and jurisdictions may have different requirements regarding whether a stamp or seal is required, what types of documents require them, and in what configuration.

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Do you need a notary stamp or notary seal?

In most cases, both a notary stamp and a notary seal serve the same purpose and can both be accepted. While some states or jurisdictions may have specific requirements on which type of notary seal is applied, they serve the same purpose and contain the same information.

Whether or not your notary applies a stamp or a seal may also be a matter of personal preference for them as well, depending on what equipment they have available to them.

Digital notary stamps vs. traditional stamps

Traditional seals or stamps are created with an embosser or inked rubber stamp and applied in person to the document that is being notarized. 

Digital notary stamps serve the same purpose as traditional stamps but are applied electronically to a document using an online notarization platform. Digital notary stamps are used to verify that a RON transaction has been completed per state requirements and are legally enforceable. 

Digital notary stamps provide greater security to your notarized document by tracking every change made to the document, preventing tampering and fraud. Digital stamps also use complex algorithms to ensure the document’s authenticity, the signer’s identity, and the validity of information contained within the document. 

Rather than requiring you to schedule a time and place to meet up with a notary to receive a stamp, Remote Online Notarization (RON) has made it easier to create, edit, eSign, and notarize documents, making it easy to apply a legally binding digital notary stamp.

Create your free digital notary stamp with PandaDoc Notary

While there is not much difference between a notary seal vs. stamp (other than how they are applied), it’s important to know the difference between the two as your state may have specific requirements in that regard. 

Though traditional notary stamps and seals required you to appear before a notary to apply their seal, digital notary stamps and Remote Online Notarization (RON) makes it simple and easy to notarize documents while ensuring their security.

PandaDoc Notary is an industry-leading RON service that allows notaries to create their own unique digital notary stamp online for free! The PandaDoc Notary platform also provides a user-friendly and secure Remote Online Notarization platform that helps you cover all your notarization needs.

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