When a Notary Can and Can’t Notarize
A notary’s job is to serve as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. Notarizations help prevent fraud and forgery and make documents more official. Notaries carry a weighty responsibility, one that could result in lawsuits if they don’t follow the rules. If you need to have a document notarized, understand what could disqualify you, so you can avoid being turned away.
If the signer doesn’t meet certain criteria, the notary may refuse to notarize the document. Here are some situations that apply:
- The signer isn’t there in person (unless the notary is performing a remote notarization).
- The signer doesn’t have a photo ID or otherwise can’t be properly identified.
- The signer is the notary’s parent, spouse, or child.
- The signer refuses to swear or affirm the contents of a document requiring an oath or affirmation.
- The signer declines to provide a thumbprint for a transaction that requires it (applicable only in some states, including California).
- The signer can’t or won’t pay the notary’s fee.
- The notary has reason to believe the signer is confused, disoriented, coerced, or lacking the mental capacity to sign the document.
Sometimes, a document fails to meet the requirements for a notary to perform their duties. For instance:
- The document appears incomplete.
- The document lacks a notarial certificate, and the signer doesn’t know or refuses to disclose which type is required.
- The notary suspects the document is illegal, deceptive, or false.
- The signer is asking to have a vital record notarized, such as a birth certificate. Notaries are often prohibited from performing copy certifications on vital records.
Notaries should also refuse a request for their services if any of the following is true:
- The notary has a financial interest in the transaction or is not impartial for some other reason.
- The signer and the notary can’t communicate due to a language barrier.
- The request violates the notary’s workplace guidelines.
When a Notary Shouldn’t Say “No”
While the law requires notaries to refuse certain requests, they are specifically instructed not to reuse any notarial act that is lawful. Here are some examples of inappropriate reasons for a notary to turn someone away:
- The notary has a personal bias toward the signer’s race, age, gender, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or disabilities. Refusing on this basis is unlawful discrimination.
- The document contains controversial or political content that the notary disagrees with. As long as the document is lawful, its purpose is not a reason to refuse a notarization.
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, 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.