Notary Practices: Personal Appearance

Before any signature can be lawfully notarized, the signer must appear in person before a Notary Public at the time of the notarization. This is the only way to properly identify the person and verify his/her willingness to sign a document and understanding of what is being signed.

This may seem like a simple principle, but ignoring it is one of the most common ways Notaries get in trouble. Requests to notarize for an absent signer can come from a supervisor, client, close friend or relative. All too often in these instances, as innumerable court cases demonstrate, the signature on the document proves to be a forgery.

Every notarial certificate requires a signer to be in the Notary’s presence at the time of the notarization. If that is not the case, you open the door to fraud that can inflict serious financial harm on unsuspecting victims. You also expose yourself to criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits and administrative penalties. So remember:

1. The signer is always required to be in the physical presence of a Notary Public for every notarization

2. Personal appearance is the only way to properly identify the signer

3. Failure to require personal appearance opens the door to fraud and exposes you to civil and criminal liability

N3 Notary for information use only, not to be used as legal advice.