The most common mistakes among notaries usually involve the standard process of completing a notarial act. Mistakes on the notarial certificate, such as not changing out the venue, confusing various notarial acts and not using the proper photo identification to identify the signer.
There are six steps to completing the perfect notarization. Once you become in the habit of following them, you’ll become even better at handling the unfamiliar notary situations.
1. Require Personal Appearance
The signer must always appear before the notary. Video chatting does not count physical appearance in the state of Florida. The person must be there at the time of the notarial act, and you must witness the signing of the document.
2. Identify the Signer
You can identify by personal knowledge, by proper identification, by a sworn witness who is personally known by the notary and personally knows the signer, or by two credible witnesses who personally know the signer and have proper identification.
To identify them through personal identification, there is a list of acceptable forms of ID. You can find them in your Florida Notary Handbook.
3. Examine the Document
As a Florida notary public, you are forbidden from completing notarial acts on documents which contain blanks. If these blanks cannot be filled in, ask the signer to write N/A or something to the equivalent in the blanks to void them.
Scan the document to also understand which notarial act should be completed– you should be able to tell from the wording in the document. If you cannot find which act is needed, present the certificates to the signer and have them choose. If they cannot determine which one should be completed, you cannot decide. You can direct them to the person who issued the document, whoever will receive the document or an attorney.
4. Enter the notarial act in your Record Book
A record book is not required by the state, but we always recommend the use of one. With a record book, you are offering yourself another layer of protection. If anything does happen, such as fraud or a discrepancy from your notarial act, you have documentation of exactly what you completed.
5. Perform the Notarial Act
Once, you are satisfied that the signer understands the contents of the document and is signing of their own free will, you may complete the notarial act. The oral statement will start the notarization, and ensure you see them sign the document.
6. Complete the Notarial Certificate.
Write in all the information pertaining to the notarization. You must change any information which is incorrect or missing. Frequently, the venue will be written in as the location the document was issued, but remember the venue must match where the notarial act took place.
Once you complete the notarial certificate, sign it as you have signed your commission and place your seal close to the certificate, being careful not to cover up any text or information.