Common Documents You Can and Cannot Notarize

By Leah Cornelius – As our Director of Operations, Leah spends a lot of time handling the day to day business, but she also spends time researching CA Notary Law and developing tools to make our students’ jobs easier. She’s taught with NPS for 8 years and gets questions all the time about what a Notary can and cannot notarize. She writes in this week with an answer.

So you have just completed the course and filed your oath and bond, and you promptly forgot what you are supposed to do next. Maybe you have been a Notary for ages and you have gotten used to the same old documents but someone just brought you immigration forms and you have no idea what to do. Well the good news is, with few exceptions, there are not many documents you can’t notarize. The even better news is that the exceptions usually have something to do with caveats to an individual document and not the type of document.Let’s go over the most commonly asked questions about types of documents:

Real Estate Documents – While you do not need any additional training to notarize real estate documents like deeds, you do need additional certification to act as a Notary Signing Agent because there is a lot more involvement than just performing notarizations. You make more money as a Signing Agent, so you might consider taking one of our classes and obtaining the proper amount of E&O coverage.

Immigration Forms –  It is a common misconception that Notaries need to be an Immigration Consultant to notarize immigration forms. This simply is not true. As a matter of fact, if you would like to maximize your earnings, becoming a qualified and bonded Immigration Consultant is not recommended because you make more money as an immigration consultant alone then being both. Once you become a Notary, you are limited in the amount you can charge for immigration documents. Instead, team up with a local Immigration Consultant so you can collect all your Notary fees and the Immigration Consultant can collect all his or her fees.

Wills – As a matter of practice, wills are generally not notarized; they are witnessed. There are very few circumstances where wills can be notarized, but you usually need special instructions from an attorney.

Birth/Death Certificates – These are another class of documents that are not usually notarized because they are handled by the County Recorder. If someone requests a notarization on these documents, including Copy Certification, you should just refer them to the County Recorder or an attorney.

So there you have it! Those are the most common (and most confusing) scenarios when you will be wondering if you can or cannot notarize the documents presented to you. Always remember that the signer must be able to properly identify him or herself, he or she must have complete documents, and you must not suspect fraud. Other than that, happy notarizing!

Wow! That was helpful. Thanks, Leah. Remember members, if you have questions about a particular notarization, you can always call or email for help. Not a member? Consider joining.  Click here!