As a new notary, you may get flustered when a customer approaches you about notarizing a document. It takes practice to remember what to ask, what to check, what to record and what to charge. To keep yourself on track to a smooth notarization, follow these guidelines.
When presented with a document to notarize:
- Ask, “Are all the document signers here?” If all the signers have not appeared in person, you must refuse service.
- Ask, “Do all the signers have current government-issued ID with them?” Be prepared to name the types of ID you will accept, such as a driver’s license. If a document signer does not have the proper government-issued ID, you do not have personal knowledge of the signer, and there is no credible witness to vouch for the signer, then you must refuse service.
- Examine the document you have been asked to notarize. Are there any alterations? If so, ask the customer to initial them. Are there any blank spaces? If so, have the customer fill them in or draw a line through them. Are all signatures in ink? If not, have the signer sign again in ink. If the document your customer presents to you is undated, you may write “undated” in the Date of Instrument section.
- Make sure that the notarial act you provide is based on the document and the information you get from the customer. You must be sure that you are performing the correct notarial act without offering legal advice on what service the customer needs. You must also be sure that you are not notarizing a document that doesn’t need to be notarized.
- Discuss the procedure and fees for the notarial act with the customer.
- Open your PAN register. The register can guide you through the rest of the transaction as you enter information:
- Date of notarial act. Enter the date, which is always the current date.
- Character of act. Enter the type of notarial act you are providing to the customer: oath or affirmation, affidavit, verification, deposition, acknowledgment, certificate or protest.
- Executed. Enter the customer’s name(s). You may also record the customer’s address or other identifying information, although it is not required by law, in the remarks column.
- Date of instrument. Enter the date that is on the document.
- Notary fee paid. Enter the amount of the fee, if any, for the act and collect the fee from the customer.
- Remarks. Record any information that would help you identify the customer and remember the transaction, such as the type of ID presented.
- Place your signature and seal on the document or an attached form.
- Review your work. Make sure your register entry is complete before the customer leaves.