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Public Notary Questions & Answers


What is a Notary Public?
A Notary Public is a public servant appointed by state government to witness
the signing of important documents and administer oaths. There are notaries
available in every state in the US, and many can also do home signing.

Why are documents notarized?
There are many reasons you may need to have a document notarized. Documents
are notarized to deter fraud and to ensure they are properly executed. An
impartial witness (the Notary) identifies signers to screen out impostors
and to make sure they have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.
Most official documents need to be notarized.

How does a Notary identify a signer?
You will need to provide valid documentation and/or ID to your Notary.
Generally, the Notary will ask to see a current identification document or
card with a photograph, physical description and signature. A driver’s
license, military ID or passport will usually be acceptable.

Is notarization required by law?
This depends on the type of the document. For many documents, yes. Certain
affidavits, deeds and powers of attorney may not be legally binding unless
they are properly notarized.

With other documents, no. Private entities and individuals may require
notarization to strengthen the document and to protect it from fraud.

Can a Notary give legal advice or prepare legal documents?
Absolutely not. A Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents or
acting as a legal advisor unless he or she is also an attorney. Violators
can be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law, so a Notary cannot
answer your legal questions or provide advice about your particular

Can a Notary prepare or notarize immigration papers?
Only a few immigration forms must be notarized, such as the Affidavit of
Support (1-134, I-864), but the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) regulations state that no one may prepare or file another person's
immigration papers unless he or she is an attorney or a U.S. Department of
Justice-approved "accredited representative." Notaries may provide clerical,
secretarial or translating assistance with INS forms as long as they do not
provide legal advice, and then may notarize these forms.

Does notarization make a document "true" or "legal"?
No. A notarization typically means the signer acknowledged to the Notary
that he or she signed the document or vouched under oath or affirmation that
the contents of the document were true.

Is a US Notary the equivalent of a Latin Notario Publico?
No. In Latin countries, the Notario Publico is a high-ranking official with
considerable legal skills and training. Unlike the U.S. Notary, the Notario
Publico drafts documents, provides legal advice, settles disputes and
archives documents.

Can a Notary refuse to serve people?
A professional notary is there to serve you. The only circumstances in
which the notary may refuse to serve you is if the Notary is uncertain of a
signer's identity, willingness, mental awareness, or has cause to suspect
fraud. Notaries may not refuse service on the basis of race, religion,
nationality, lifestyle, or because the person is not a client or customer.

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