What is a Notary Public?


The primary purpose of the Notary Public is to provide notarization of certain documents and to prevent fraud. Notaries are utilized and required by lenders, title companies and the county recorders office whenever real property is purchased or transferred to another party. 

What is a notary public? 
A notary public is a reputable witness, commissioned by California's Secretary of State, who may legally certify by written acknowledgment on a document that he or she knows you to be the person who has executed the document. Note: Any person requesting notarization of a will should be referred to an attorney.

Why is a notary public necessary? 
The law required notary certifications under many situations. Most documents in real property transactions, such as a grant deed or trust deed, must be notarized before they can be recorded by the county recorder. When you have an important document notarized it affords you the fullest protection against possible forgery.

Who is entitled to be a notary public? 
In California, a notary public must be a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of the state in which he or she is commissioned, not less than 18 years of age, and must satisfy the Secretary of State that he or she is of good moral character. A notary public must also satisfactorily pass a qualification examination and provide a performance bond under which any official misconduct or neglect of the notary public makes the notary, together with the surety of the bond, liable to the persons injured thereby for damages sustained.

How and where does a notary public perform the notarial service? 
Notarization takes place only in the state where the notary public has been commissioned. The notary certifies the identity of the person appearing and signing the document on the date and in the county specified on the notary certification. The notary's certification testifies that the signatures on the document are genuine. The notary public maintains a complete record book to preserve evidence of the acknowledgment. For identification purposes, the notary public requires that the signatures of the parties executing the document also be signed in the record book. Your notary public provides an important professional service and is entitled to charge a fee for such services. The Secretary of State establishes the maximum fee a notary public may charge.

Notary Guidelines:

  • Should not notarize any instrument or document if the party signing the document is not present or doesn't sign the document in his or her presence.
  • Should not draw legal agreements or attempt to give any legal advice (unless the notary is also an attorney).
  • Should not notarize any signature unless the party is personally known by the notary or satisfactory identification is provided to the notary.
  • Should not authorize anyone else to notarize for him or her.
  • Should not notarize out of state in which the commission has been granted.
  • Should require proper identification such as a drivers license, passport or California/military I.D., and fingerprint.