A notary public is an official of integrity appointed by the state government to serve the public as an impartial witness while signing legally binding documents. It’s the notary’s job to confirm the identity of the person signing based on sufficient evidence. As such, it’s vital for notaries to carefully and dutifully follow state guidelines when performing notarizations, or notarial acts.
State statutes define what notaries are legally permitted to do and what they are prohibited from doing. Not allowing notarizations to occur in certain circumstances helps ensure the credibility and integrity of notarial acts.
Documents That Can’t be Notarized
While notaries can notarize most official forms with signatures, a few exceptions apply. Take a look at the documents you can’t notarize in California:
- Documents with blank or missing pages
- Documents with faxed signatures (the signer must be present)
- Documents in which the notary has a financial interest or is not impartial for some other reason
- Documents the notary suspects are false, deceptive, or illegal
- Post-dated documents
- Copies of birth, death, and marriage certificates (only the State Registrar or County Recorder may do this)
- Copies of the original document (with the exception of powers of attorney under Probate Code Section 4307)
Restrictions to Notarial Acts
Several other restrictions also apply to notaries in California. For example:
- Notaries can’t notarize their own signatures.
- Notaries may not proceed with the notarization if the signer can’t prove their identity. Unlike some states, California prohibits identification solely on personal knowledge—the signer must provide an acceptable form of ID, such as a driver’s license, ID card, or passport.
- Notaries may only certify copies of powers of attorney under Probate Code Section 4307. This requires the certifying person to confirm that they have examined the original power of attorney alongside the copy and that the copy is true and correct.
- Notaries may notarize immigration documents, but they can’t assist people in completing their forms unless they are licensed attorneys or registered California immigration consultants.
- Notaries cannot advertise services in a foreign language unless they provide a disclaimer explaining that they are not an attorney. They also may not certify the accuracy of a translation, though they may take the oath of a person who swears the translation is correct.
- Notaries can only notarize a will at an attorney’s request.
- Notary fees are left to the discretion of the notary but cannot exceed the maximum allowed for different services. In general, the highest amount a notary public can charge in California is $15.
At Talty Court Reporters, we provide notary services in San Jose to help you achieve the very best results in your legal case. Turn to us for other top-quality services as well, including court reporting and transcribing services, video and audio conferencing, remote depositions, and much more. For additional information about our services or to request a cost estimate, please contact us today.