What is a notarial certificate?

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You may know that notarial acts have to be evidenced by a formal certificate. So, a notary public must ensure the correct legal language is on or attached to the document, indicating which notarial ceremony was performed. A notarial certificate is used by a notary when they certify the identity of a signatory to any document. Note that this resource has integrated notes and important explanations, as well as drafting tips. So, what is a notarial certificate?

You will find many sample notarial certificates online. The secretary of state is responsible for setting specific requirements for each notarial certificate wording. This is why the language may vary slightly depending on your commissioning state. A notarial certificate is a written statement or document that bears the notary’s signature and notary seal and affirms the facts or information being attested to. Find the difference between a notary seal and stamp.

A proper notarial certificate is essential for the notarization process because, regardless of the kind of notary certificate, the certificate establishes some key facts: 

  • Who appeared before the notary public (signer of the document or the principal)
  • Where the notarization process took place (state  and county or city is often listed)
  • The statement that the principal made before the notary 

What is a notarial certificate?

We can define a notarial certificate as a written statement or document, signed and sealed by a notary, certifying the facts of a notarial act. For a notarial act requiring a certificate, a notary public must complete a notary certificate.

Note that some states, such as California, require that you use precise and specific certificate wording or language as per state statutes and laws for certain acts. On the other hand, Texas notaries are allowed to use other certificate wording provided it’s substantially similar to the relevant state-approved forms.

In Florida, a notary public can use any wording as long as all nine required notary certificate elements are present, such as the notary public’s official signature.

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What information needs to be on a notarial certificate?

  • Venue – The place or location where the notarization takes place or the location of the notary public at the time of remote notarization. In most cases, the notary public has to write the name of the state and county in the relevant blanks.
  • Type of notarial act – Acknowledgments and oaths are two different notarial acts. Note that subtle wording, such as “acknowledge” (acknowledgment) or “sworn to” (oath), indicates the required notarial ceremony.
  • The date of the notarization.
  • Remote or in-person – The notary public or public official must indicate if there was a conventional in-person ceremony or RON (Remote Online Notarization). 
  • The person whose signature is being notarized, such as the principal.
  • Identification type – The notary public marks whether the principal’s identity was confirmed on the basis of personal knowledge or examination and evaluation of an acceptable type of identification. 
  • The public notary’s signature.
  • The name of the notary is typed, printed, or stamped below the signature. 
  • The notary seal – The notary’s seal must contain the notary’s name and other details, such as commission number and commission expiration date, and be affixed to the certificate in black ink. 

Types of notary certificates

These are the most common types of notarial certificates:

  • Jurats
  • Acknowledgments
  • Oaths or/ and affirmations 

Jurat

We can define a jurat as a certification on a legal document, such as an affidavit, which provides information regarding where and when the document was signed, as well as who witnessed the signing. 

The primary purpose of a jurat certificate is for the signer to affirm or swear that the content of a legal document is truthful and accurate according to their knowledge. Documents that often require jurats include affidavits and sworn statements. 

For a jurat to be executed appropriately, the signer has to sign the document in the presence of the notary at the time of the notarial ceremony.

Acknowledgment

An acknowledgment is the second type of notarial certificate and serves as a declaration of the signer that they understand the contents of a legal or financial document and are willingly signing it.

Note that the acknowledgment certificate is the public notary’s certification of the relevant details of this crucial notarial act. The signer can sign the document before appearing before a public notary or in the notary’s presence.

You should know that acknowledgments are often required for powers of attorney, contracts, or any kind of document where an individual has to agree to particular terms and conditions of the document.

Notary Acknowledgment template

Oaths and/or affirmations

Sometimes, you may need a public notary to solely administer the affirmation or oath orally instead of as part of an affidavit, jurat, or other written document. An oath is a formal pledge to god or some other higher power that the statements are factual and authentic. On the other hand, an affirmation is a pledge on the personal honor of an individual.

It is worth noting that the intention of an oath and affirmation is to compel the person to truthfulness. Also, documents that usually require affirmations or oaths are affidavits, applications, or any sworn statement where the signer sets forth specific facts in writing.

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The notarial certificate is an important document that attests to the performance of the notarial act by the notaries public. There are three main types of notarial certificates. Certification, witnessing, and notarization of documents, such as powers of attorney and student records, are usually important and add credibility to the document.  

PandaDoc Notary can help with getting documents notarized, along with offering a variety of notary services like witnessing signatures. With PandaDoc Notary, you can quickly and easily get your vital records and other documents notarized without leaving your home. 

FAQs

What is the difference between an affidavit and a certification?

An affidavit is a signed legal document in which an affiant makes a sworn statement. An affidavit is a sworn statement or legally binding and valid declaration in which a witness swears that certain assertions or statements are true to the best of their personal knowledge.

On the other hand, a certificate is a document that contains a certified statement. Learn how to get an affidavit and whether an affidavit needs to be notarized

What should I do if there is no notarial certificate? 

If there’s no notarial certificate on the legal document, the document signer must inform the notary public whether they want to take an oath or make an acknowledgment. In these cases, a notary can attach a loose certificate to the document. The notary can add a notary certificate by attaching a loose one, either by writing it by hand on the relevant document or using a rubber stamp if the state allows it.

However, unless the notary is a lawyer or an attorney, they are not authorized to advise an individual on which notarial act is suitable for the legal documents presented for notarization.

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