FAQ’s

What To Know About The Notarization Process

What is a Notary?

A Notary is a person of integrity, appointed by the Secretary of State to verify the identity of document signers.  A Notary also performs copy certifications and administers oaths and affirmations.


What is an Apostille?

An Apostille is a French word (pronounced ah-po-stee) meaning certification. In notary speak it refers to an authentication certificate issued by the Secretary of State to approve the signature of a notary public and other public officers to be placed on documents that will be used overseas in countries that are members of the Hague Convention. The Apostille certifies that the notary’s commission is current and the notary is in good standing.

These documents include, but are not limited to: affidavits, adoption papers, birth certificates, death certificates, contracts, diplomas and degrees, deeds, divorce decrees, marriage certificates, incorporation papers, patent applications, powers of attorney, school transcripts.


What is a Notarization?

A Notary will complete a certificate that confirms necessary information about the signer and the document, this constitutes a notarization.  A Notary doesn’t verify the accuracy or validity of any document. 

Proper and valid identification is a must for any notarization that requires verification of a signature.  These are the types of identification accepted by the state of California:


Proper Identification / ID

  • California Drivers License or ID card.
  • A U.S. State Department issued U.S. Passport
  • Drivers License or ID card issued by another state.
  • U.S. Military identification
  • Foreign Passport
  • California state, County, or City Id card (with photo, serial number, signature, and or issue/expiration date.) 
  • A Consular card: must have a physical description, photo, signature, serial #.
  • Federally recognized Tribal ID card: must have a physical description, photo, signature, serial#.
  • Inmate ID card or wristband for incarcerated signers.

NOTE: All of the above mentioned forms of ID will need to be current or issued within the past 5 years.  They are the only CA approved forms of ID.


What if I don’t have a proper form of identification?

If you are not able to provide those forms of ID you may be identified on the oath or affirmation of credible identifying witnesses who have their own proper ID. Credible identifying witnesses must have personal knowledge of your identity, believe it is not reasonable for you to obtain the proper ID, they cannot have any financial interest in the document being signed, they should be honest and aware.


Which notary act is right for me?

Sometimes the notarial wording isn’t printed on the document you need notarized. Such as handwritten or private documents. In this case, the signer should ask the receiving agency what type of notarization they need. The signer may also seek the advice of an attorney or make the choice themselves. (For signatures the choices are an Acknowledgement, which proves that you signed the document, or a Jurat the signer swears or affirms what they signed is true.)


What if the signer is too frail or ill to sign his/her name?

In those cases where the signer is mentally competent to sign , but too physically frail or ill to sign for his/herself, there is a procedure in place called “signature by mark”. The protocol calls for 2 witnesses. The signer makes a mark, frequently an “X” which is witnessed by the 2 witnesses. There is a form the notary can provide which one of the witnesses fill out that and both witnesses sign it. The procedure essentially converts the “X” into a legal signature for the purposes of that particular document.


Pledge of ethical practice

I am not an attorney, and therefore, by law I cannot explain or interpret the contents of any document for you, instruct you on how to complete any document, or direct you on the advisability of signing a particular document. By doing so I would be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and could face legal penalties that include the possibility of incarceration. Any important questions about your document should be addressed to the receiving/issuing agency or an attorney.