Who can legally notarize documents?


When you need to ensure that a document’s content and signatures are valid and legally binding, you will need to get the document notarized. But who can notarize documents, and how can you make sure that it’s done to guarantee the document will be valid?

Since notarization is an official process that is authorized at the state level, there are specific rules and procedures that must be followed depending on which state you live in. These include guidelines for verifying the signers identities as well as who can perform the notarial act, and under what circumstances.

In this guide, we break down everything that you need to know about how to get a document notarized, as well as who can perform notarial acts. 

We also take a look at how Remote Online Notarization (RON) with PandaDoc Notary has made this process simple, easy, and cheaper than ever before.

Who can legally notarize documents?

In the United States, all notarial acts must be performed by an actively commissioned notary public.

A notary public is any individual who has received special authorization to certify document signatures from the state in which they operate. 

In addition to independently commissioned notaries, the following professions are also usually authorized to notarize documents within their state:

  1. Records clerk
  2. Banker
  3. Escrow Agent
  4. County Clerk
  5. Claims Processor
  6. Title Clerk
  7. Accountant
  8. Financial advisor

To receive this authorization, individuals must meet all of the eligibility requirements for their state in addition to taking an oath of office. Some states also require prospective notaries to pass a training course and official exam to ensure they are qualified to carry out their duties.

While a notary’s primary job is to serve as a neutral, third-party witness to a document signing, they naturally fulfill a range of responsibilities when it comes to authenticating a document. 

In addition to verifying the identities of the document signers, a notary must also physically witness the signing of the document to guarantee that it was freely and willingly signed.

It is important to note that due to the potential for conflict of interest and fraud, notaries cannot legally notarize documents in which they are a directly related or relevant party or stand to gain from in any way.

Once the document is signed, the notary will apply their own signature and unique seal, making the document content and signatures legally binding. 

A notary’s signature and seal essentially guarantees that a document has been signed within the requirements of the law and enables it to be recognized as legally binding for the duration of the document’s term in all 50 states. 

What documents need to be notarized?

When you need to have a document recognized as legally binding, you will have to have the document signed and notarized. There are many different types of documents you may need to have notarized, including everything from documents related to personal, to financial, to estate planning matters.

Some documents that commonly require notarization include the following:

  • Taking acknowledgments: An official acknowledgment from a signer to a notary that a document has been willingly signed. 
  • Taking verification on an affirmation or oath: notary witnesses an oath or affirmation that the contents of the document being signed are true.
  • Executing a juratVerifications confirming the veracity of documents.
  • Witnessing signaturesA notary appears to verify the identity of a document signer and witness the signing. 
  • Certifying a copy of a record: notary certifies that a copy of a document is true and accurate.
  • Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument: A notary officially notes that a bill or note related to the transaction has been dishonored and that the terms are being protested. 
  • Certifying or attesting a copy of a record: A notary certifies that a copy of a document is true and accurate

Where can you get a document notarized?

Most people are familiar with the traditional notarization process where you schedule a time to meet with a notary in-person or show up at a business that provides notarization services. 

Often, businesses that offer financial, title/ loan, and shipping services also provide in-house notarization services as an extension. These can include institutions such as:

  • Banks
  • Law firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Tax preparation services
  • Shipping stores, such as UPS
  • Accountant offices

While these options can offer a solution if you need notarization fast, they are often costly and depend on the availability of these businesses to provide the service in the first place.

Rather than being forced to schedule out a meeting days, or even weeks, in-advance with a walk-in or mobile notary service, Remote Online Notarization (RON) has made it simple and easy to securely send, eSign, and notarize your documents right when you need it.

RON makes it as easy as possible to meet with a commissioned notary public

Remote Online Notarization (RON) allows document signers and commissioned state notaries to connect online via a secure, two-way audio-visual connection to complete a notary session without having to schedule a time and physical place to meet.

In addition to making it fast and easy to capture and authenticate a signature, RON utilizes complex algorithms and verification features that offer a level of security and accuracy that isn’t available with traditional notarization services. 

PandaDoc Notary allows users to edit and eSign documents, reuse templates, invite multiple signers, utilize multiple documents, and auto generate a digital notary stamp. The platform also records each session in detail and stores them on an accessible, cloud-based electronic journaling log.

How to get documents notarized with PandaDoc Notary?

Remote Online notarization makes the document preparation and notarization easy by allowing you to create, edit, eSign, and notarize documents all in one place in accordance with local state law. 

The all-in-one platform saves you time and effort when it comes to document preparation. To see how easy it is to notarize documents with PandaDoc Notary, read on.

Step 1: Preparing your online notarization session

  1. In addition to document creation and notarization, PandaDoc Notary allows you to prepare quotes, proposals, contracts, and more from state-approved templates. This not only helps to ensure the overall validity of your document, it removes a lot of guesswork and uncertainty from the process.

Step 2: Invite and verify your signers

  1. Once the document is drafted, you will need to send it to all signing parties (prior to notarization) so that they can review and request changes, if need be.

    The PandaDoc Notary platform allows you to make any edits to your document quickly and easily, before or live during a notarization session.
  1. Once your document is ready to be signed, you will connect with your signers and an online notary via a secure, two-way audio-visual internet connection. The notary and signers must all be present for the signing at the same time in order to carry out the notarization.
  2. After logging into the session, all  of  the signer’s identities are verified using a Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) system. This is a security feature that matches a person’s proof-of-identity with private information from official sources, such as statements from a financial institution.

    In addition to KBA, PandaDoc Notary then performs an in-depth analysis of the signer’s ID and documents to help further prevent fraud. 

Step 3: Completing the signing process

  1. Once a document has been reviewed by all parties, the signers can apply their secure eSignature to the document before the online notary.
  2. Finally, the notary can apply the eSignature and seal, completing the notarization within minutes. 

Final thoughts

When you need to have a document notarized, Remote Online Notarization (RON) makes it easier than ever to securely capture your signatures without the hassle and fees associated with traditional notarization services.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with a clear understanding of who can notarize  documents and how you can start easily notarizing documents online with PandaDoc Notary.

PandaDoc Notary provides an easy-to-use and secure Remote Online Notarization platform that helps you create, edit, eSign, and notarize documents at your convenience, from wherever you’re at.

The all-in-one platform provides a range of easy-to-use, flexible resources to make it as easy as possible to notarize when you need it. You may never go back to using traditional notary services once you see how quick and painless RON with PandaDoc Notary really is.To learn more about how PandaDoc Notary can help you, request a free demo.