When you have a document notarized, the notary authenticates your signature on that document. That’s why the person signing the document has to appear and sign in the presence of the notary. Notarization says that you affirm you’re telling the truth, that you were identified by the notary, and that’s really your signature on the document, not someone pretending to be you.
You must prove your identity with an acceptable form of identification: that is, a state driver’s license; a state ID card; a U.S. passport; or a U.S. military ID card.
Your unexpired ID must identify you as your signature will appear on the document. If using a maiden name, middle initial or suffix (Jr., III, etc.), that part of your name must be on your ID. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, court documents, and credit cards are not acceptable forms of identification.
The notary does not have to watch you fill out forms or write your statements. You can do that prior to appearing before the notary; however, you must wait to sign and date the document in the presence of the notary.
Contrary to popular belief, not any document can be notarized. These are the basic critical elements of a valid notarization.
1) There must be a document with written text on it; not a blank piece of paper;
(Yes, I’ve been asked to put my signature and seal on a blank piece of paper – no kidding.)
2) The signer has to appear before the notary with proper identification;
(No appearance, no proper identification – no notarization.)
3) There must be an original signature on the document; a copy of a signature cannot be notarized.
(Think about it: How can the notary affirm someone signed in her presence if it’s a copy.)
There are a plethora of legal documents that require notarization. Each type of document has certain legal requirements. If the document does not meet those requirements or if the signer does not appear with proper identification, then the notary has a legal and ethical duty to refuse the notarization in order to protect the public from fraud and identity theft.
When you are prepared, basic notarization is a fast, simple process that only takes a few minutes with the notary.