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A notary public is a public official commissioned by the secretary of state to perform notarial acts. A notary, in essence, serves as an impartial witness. Government offices, businesses, and the general public rely on the accuracy and integrity of notaries.
A notary is most commonly called upon to act as an official, unbiased witness to the identity and signature of the person who comes before the notary for a specific purpose, and that they have taken all reasonable steps to verify a signer’s identity before notarizing that person’s signature.
A certified signing agent (aka notary signing agent-NSA) is a commissioned notary public who has completed additional training in real estate and loan documents and passed an examination (in addition to the state examination) administered by an industry-recognized company such as the National Notary Association. A notary public who has earned the designation from the National Notary Association as a “certified loan signing agent” must submit to and pass an examination, testing their knowledge of notarial laws, the lending process, regulatory compliance, and the processing of loan documents.
In addition, a National Notary Association-certified loan signing agent must also pass a background check every two years. A signing agent is hired as an independent contractor by a realtor, lender, title company, or closing agent to ensure real estate loan documents are properly executed, notarized, and returned for processing.
- Copy Certifications
Notaries must perform all lawful and reasonable requests for notarization. However, the following are some circumstances under which a notary may decline service:
- If the document signer is unable to produce proper identification
- If the document signer is unable to produce credible identifying witnesses
- If the document is incomplete or contains blank spaces
- If the document does not provide notarial wording and the signer is unable to provide instructions as such
- If the notary is uncertain of a signer’s willingness, mental awareness, or has cause to suspect fraud
- A notary public may not perform notary services outside of the state that he/she is commissioned in. In other words, an Arizona notary may not travel to California or any other state to perform notary services unless they are also commissioned in that state.
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) regulations require organizations to protect themselves against unauthorized access, anticipated hazards, and risks threatening the security or integrity of consumer financial information. To comply with this law and the interagency guidelines that have been set, some financial and lending institutions have begun to require regulatory compliance training and background screening for all persons involved in the lending process and who render real estate settlement services.
Since signing agents have access to consumers’ private and financial information, many lenders now require notaries to received regulatory compliance training (typically a certified loan signing agent has satisfied the educational requirements) and to submit to a background check.
No, a notary signing agent cannot provide documents, assist in the completion of your documents, or give legal advice on your documents.
Notaries are prohibited from notarizing any document that is incomplete. Any blanks should be filled in by the signer, lined though, or marked as “not applicable”.
As public officials, notaries serve an important role in the prevention of fraud and protection of the parties involved by following strict procedures in identifying a person and by acting as an official, unbiased witness for certain documents. Notaries are not responsible for the truth, accuracy, or legality of documents they notarize.
A notary public is a person of honesty, credibility, truthfulness, and integrity appointed by the state to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of acts related to the signing of important documents, taking oaths and affirmations, and performing other acts authorized by law. A notary public is not an attorney and may not give legal advice or assist a signer to draft, prepare, select, or complete a document or transaction.
When a signer is unable to present the proper identification, the signer may be identified on the oath or affirmation of one or two credible identifying witnesses. If there is only one credible identifying witness, he/she must be personally known by the notary; otherwise, two credible identifying witnesses are required.
The witnesses, whether personally known or unknown by the notary, must present valid identification. In either case, each witness must swear or affirm that the following is true:
- The document signer appearing before the Notary is the person that is named in the document
- The document signer is personally known to the witness
- The document signer does not have any acceptable identification
- The witness believes that it would be difficult or impossible for the document signer to obtain acceptable identification, and
- The witness has no financial or beneficial interest in the document and is not named in the document
All individuals on documents to be signed and notarized are to be PRESENT at signing and must have PROPER IDENTIFICATION (see below).
A disabled person may sign a document by marking an “X” in the presence of two witnesses who personally know the signer and who have no interest in nor are named in the document. The witnesses must present acceptable identification.
If you do not have valid identification, you may be identified by either one or two credible identifying witnesses who must produce acceptable identification. Only one credible identifying witness is required provided that the individual is personally known by the notary and is able to produce acceptable identification.
Two credible identifying witnesses are required if neither of them is personally known by the notary. They must also produce acceptable identification. The witnesses must personally know you and take an oath attesting to your identity. The witnesses may not have an interest in or be named in the document.
May Accept “Less of a Name” Than Appears on the Identification:
If the document reflects less of a name than what appears on the identification, the notary may proceed with the notarization. For example, if your identification reads “Norton John Smith” and the document reads “Norton J. Smith,” the notary may accept your identification for that document because the “J” is defined.
May Not Accept “More of a Name” Than Appears on the Identification:
If the document reflects more of a name than what appears on the identification, the notary may not proceed with the notarization. For example, if your identification reads “Norton J. Smith” but the document reads “Norton John Smith,” the Notary may not accept your identification for that document because it does not define the “J.”
The name on the identification must either match what is on the document or follow the “less but not more than the rule” (see explanation above). If you cannot present acceptable identification, you may also be identified by one or two credible identifying witnesses (discussed above).
A marriage license, social security card, temporary driver’s license, or credit card with or without a photo is not included in the acceptable forms of identification.
Documentation must include the signer’s photograph, signature, identifying number, and a physical description that includes height, weight, the color of hair, and the color of eyes.
- An unexpired driver’s license or identification card issued by a state or territory of the United States
- An unexpired United States passport issued by the United States Department of State
- An unexpired United States military identification card that is issued by any branch of the United States Armed Forces
- An inmate identification card issued by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation if the signer is in custody
- Any other unexpired identification card that is issued by the United States Government or a state or tribal government that contains the individual’s photograph, signature, and a physical description
For USA real estate transactions for Canadian or Mexican citizens – a valid unexpired passport issued by a national government other than the United States government and that is accompanied by a valid unexpired Visa or other documentation that is necessary to establish an individual’s legal presence in the United States.
Some of the commonly presented but unacceptable forms of identification are as follows:
- U.S. Military Common Access Card
- Green Cards – Permanent Resident and Border Crossing Cards
- Social Security Cards
- Credit Cards With or Without Photographs
- Temporary Driver’s License
- Driver’s License Without Photograph
- Marriage License
- Birth Certificate
- Organizational Membership Cards
TYPES OF NOTARIZATION
A copy certification is a notarial act in which a notary certifies that a photocopy of an original document was made that is neither a public record nor publicly recordable. The notary must have access to a copy machine. Examples of publicly recordable documents that a notary cannot certify: marriage records, birth certificates, death certificates, and divorce records.
A jurat is a notarial act in which the notary certifies that a signer, whose identity is proven by satisfactory evidence, has made in the notary’s presence a voluntary signature and has taken an oath or affirmation vouching for the truthfulness of the signed documents. Some states refer to this as an affidavit. The purpose of a jurat is to compel truthfulness by appealing to the signer’s conscience and fear of criminal penalties for perjury.
An Acknowledgement is a notarial act in which a notary certifies that a signer, whose identity is proven by satisfactory evidence, appeared before the Notary and acknowledged that the signer freely signed the document. If the document was signed outside the Notary’s presence, the document signer must make a personal appearance before the Notary to confirm it is their signature. This must be done prior to the document being notarized.
A formal legal declaration: a formal declaration acceptable in a court, usually made by somebody who has a conscientious objection to taking an oath.
A solemn promise: a formal or legally binding pledge to do something such as tell the truth, made formally and often naming God or a loved one as a witness.
RON is Remote Online Notarization, and it allows Banks, Title Companies, Law Firms, And Other Businesses To Complete Important Transactions That Require Signatures And A Notary Seal Remotely With The Aid Of Online Audio And Video Technology. The Signer And The Notary Do Not Meet In Person As They Perform The Signing Virtually.
The Signer Personally Appears Before the Notary Public In Real-Time Using Audio-Video Technology. The Signers Identity Is Verified Using Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) And Credential Analysis, Which Are Managed By The RON Platform.
Once Those Steps Are Taken, The Notary Completes The Notarization With The Attachment Of An Electronic Notary Seal And Digital Certificate.
Yes, Remote AZ Notaries Can Perform Notarial Acts For A Signer In Any Physical Location.
DocuSign, DocVerify, eNotaryLog, KYS-Tech, NotaryCam, NotaryLive, Nexsys, Notarize, OneNotary.us, Onlinenotary.us, Pavaso, Qualia, SafeDocs, Secured Signing, Signix Stavvy
Desktop or Laptop with Webcam, Headset and Speakers-Two Way Audio/Video Capabilities
- Taking Acknowledgments And Giving Certificates Of The Acknowledgments Endorsed On Or Attached To The Instrument.
- Administering Oaths And Affirmations
- Performing Jurats
- Performing Copy Certifications
A Hybrid Signing incorporates both Paper and Electronic Signatures. The Signer and the Signing Agent Meet Face To Face And Includes Both Paper Ink Signatures and Electronic Signatures On A Signing Platform Via A Laptop Or Tablet.
In AZ, An Electronic Notary or (ENotary) Is Only Authorized To Perform Electronic Notarizations While A Remote Notary Is Able To Also Perform Remote Online Notarizations.
An ENotarization Use Digital Signatures, But Still Requires The Signer To Physically Appear Before The Notary. Remote Online Notarizations Use Digital Signatures And Are Conducted Virtually Using Audio Video Technology.