Q1. What are California ID Guidelines for having a signature notarized?
A: When completing a certificate of acknowledgement or a jurat, a Notary Public is required to certify to the identity of the signer of the document (Civil Code sections 1185(a), 1189, Government Code section 8202):
I. ACCEPTABLE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS FOR NOTARIZATION:
1. An identification card or driver’s license issued by the California DMV. If the driver’s license is
expired, it can be used IF it has not been five or more years since it was issued;
2. A United States Passport;
3. An inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation, if the inmate is in custody in a California state prison;
4. Other types of ID as listed below IF it contains a photograph, description of the person,
signature of the person, and an identifying number;
a. A passport issued by a foreign government if it has been stamped by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
b. A driver’s license issued by another State or by a Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses;
c. An ID card issued by another state;
d. A U.S. military ID card with the required photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number; or
e. An employee ID card issued by an agency or office of the State of California, or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county of California.
II. OATHS OF TWO CREDIBLE WITNESSES:
The identity of the signer can be established by the oaths of two credible witnesses whom the notary public does not personally know. The notary public first must establish the identities of the two credible witnesses by the presentation of paper identification documents as listed above. Under oath, the credible witnesses must swear or affirm that each of the following is true:
1. The individual appearing before the notary public as the signer of the
document is the person named in the document;
2. The credible witnesses personally knows the signer;
3. The credible witness reasonably believes that the circumstances of the
signer that it would be very difficult or impossible for the signer to
obtain another form of identification;
4. The signer does not possess any of the identification documents authorized
by law to establish the signer’s identity; and
5. The credible witness does not have a financial interest and is not named in
the document signed.
Q2. What is a California Notary Public?
A: A California Notary Public is an official of integrity appointed by the Secretary of State. The duty of a Notary Public is to serve the public as an impartial witness in the signing of important legal documents and administer oaths.
Q3. What is a Loan Signing Agent?
A: A Loan Signing Agent is a specialized Notary Public who is trained and certified in the proper execution of loan closing documents. A lender, title company or escrow service may hire a signing agent to facilitate getting loan documents delivered, signed, and processed accurately and in a timely manner.
Q4. May a notary assist or advise me on completing a document?
A: No. Notaries are not lawyers and are prohibited from giving any legal advice. The Notary Public can explain the differences between the two types of notarial acts (Acknowledgements or Jurats) but is never permitted to choose what Notary Act you need. A Notary can only ask the signer which form they prefer; if they don't know, the Notary will refer them to the originator of the document for an answer.
Q5. What is the difference between the two types of notarial acts – Acknowledgements vs. Jurats?
An acknowledgement is used to verify the identity of the signer and to confirm that they signed the document. They are not swearing to the truthfulness or validity of the document, they are simply acknowledging that they signed the document. For an acknowledgement in the state of California, a signer is not required to sign the document in the presence of the Notary Public, but they are required to personally appear in front of the Notary to confirm their signature.
A jurat is used when the signer is swearing to the content of the document. The Notary must administer an oath or affirmation to the signer in order to complete the jurat. A jurat also requires that the signer signs in the presence of the Notary. The wording states “Subscribed and sworn to before me…” – subscribed meaning “signed” and sworn meaning that an oral oath or affirmation was given. “Before me” means that both were done in the presence of the Notary Public.
Q6. Does notarization mean that the document is “True” or “Legal”?
A: No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. Notaries certify the identity of signers. The signers are responsible for the content of the documents.