What Is A Notary Public?
What Does The Act Of Notarization Accomplish?
Statues Pertaining To A Notary Public
Notary Public Seal/Stamp
And/Or Name Change
Notary Terms And Definitions
What is a notary public?
- A "public
- An impartial agent for the state
- A witness of notarial writings and signatures.
The notary being an impartial witness and having no conflict of interest must ask themselves two questions before
notarizing a document:
- Am I a party to the transaction? Or, "Am I named in the document?"
I have any financial or beneficial interest in this transaction?
If the answer to both of these questions is no,
the notary is an impartial witness.
What Does the Act of Notarization Accomplish?
act of notarization protects against fraud.
- A notarized signature proves the signer appeared before the notary public.
The signer must be in the physical presence of the notary before the notary may lawfully notarize.
- The notary certifies
that a signature is made willingly and freely.
- A notarization does not prove a document or statement is true or accurate,
nor does a notarization validate or legalize a document.
notary’s primary responsibility is to take necessary steps to verify a signer’s identity before notarizing a signature.
A notary public may not notarize a signature unless the notary personally knows, or has satisfactory evidence, that the person
whose signature is to be notarized is the individual who is described in and who is executing the instrument. There are three
ways to verify a signer’s identity:
Personal Knowledge is the safest and best verification
of a person’s identity. It requires no witnesses or identification cards. It means having an acquaintance, derived from
association with the individual, which establishes the individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty.
Credible Witness is a third person that personally knows the document signer, and verifies the signer’s identity.
(Credible witness is for the purpose of identifying people who do not have identification. This does not replace the "presence"
requirement. The person whose signature is being notarized must be present at the time of notarization.)
Identification card or papers are necessary in verifying the signer's identity. The notary should examine the photograph,
accurate physical description, and signature of the bearer. Asking for two forms of ID can further assure the signer’s
If a notary is uncomfortable or suspicious of any identification, the notary should not notarize for
Signing By Mark
On rare occasions, a notary public may have to notarize the signature of a person
who signs by way of mark. The person may be illiterate or may have a physical disability which prohibits the person from signing
in the customary manner. The notary laws do not require any additional procedures for notarizing in these situations. However,
some notaries prefer to take extra precautions by using the guidelines below:
- Question the signer to make sure
that they understand the nature and effect of the document to be signed. If the person is illiterate, read the document to
him/her. If the person does not understand, do not notarize.
- Ask for proper identification.
- Perform the appropriate
Before the person signs the document, print their name at the beginning of the signature line and
the last name at the end of the line. Just below the line, print the words "His Mark" or "Her Mark."
Then, ask the person to make his/her mark on the designated line. Complete the
notarial certificate. When filling in the person’s name whose signature is being notarized, the notary may want to indicate
the person signed by way of mark. It is also recommended that an uninterested person(s) witness the signing of the document
and the notarization and that their names and addresses be clearly printed under their signatures.
Signing By Mark - Example of Acknowledgement and Jurat (74kb pdf)
Signing On Another's Behalf
A notary public may also be asked to notarize the signature of an individual
with a disability who may direct another person to sign on their behalf. In a sense, one person substitutes their hands for
the hands of the person with a disability. A notary public may notarize this signature, but should indicate the unusual circumstances
in the notarial certificate. Although notary laws do not provide specific guidelines for this situation, the notary may want
to take precautions to prevent any problems. The following guidelines may be helpful:
- Question the person to make
sure that they understand the nature and effect of the document to be signed. If the person is blind, read the entire document
to them. If the person does not understand, do not notarize.
- Ask for proper identification from the person with the
disability. It is not necessary to require identification from the designated signer. Think of that person only as the "hands"
of the person with the disability.
- The designated person may then sign the signature of the person with the disability
at the direction of and in the presence of that person.
- Perform the appropriate notarial act. Your notarial act should
be directed to the person with a disability, rather than the designated signer.
- Complete the notarial certificate
with the required information. When stating whose signature is being notarized, it would be best to indicate the special circumstances.
is also recommended that a person(s), with no interest in the transaction, witness the signing of the document and the notarization
and that the name and address be clearly printed below their signatures.
Signing On Another's Behalf - Example of Acknowledgement and Jurat (74kb pdf)
Statutes Pertaining to a Notary Public
Effective as of August 1, 2011
The following laws are from the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) and pertain to the duties of a notary public.
Although every attempt has been made for accuracy, the reprint of these laws does not carry the same authority or weight as
the actual NDCC and should not be equated with the NDCC as an equal authority. This copy is only intended as a helpful resource
and reference. For official and legal purposes, the official NDCC should be used.
Notary Related State Laws (109kb pdf)
Notary Public Seal/Stamp
Acquiring a Notary Seal/Stamp
Before a seal/stamp can be purchased the notary must request a "Certificate of Authorization,"
from the Secretary of State, for the manufacture of a notary seal/stamp.
seal/stamp may be purchased at an office supply store, stationery store, or a print shop.
The seal/stamp must be designed to leave a clear impression, be photographically reproducible, include the words "Notary
Public" and "State of North Dakota," contain the name and commission expiration date of the notary public exactly
as shown on the notary's commission or certificate of authorization, and which may not contain any other words, numbers, symbols,
or a reproduction of the great seal of the state, and a border surrounding the imprint.
Stolen or Otherwise Damaged Seal/Stamp
Send the Secretary of State a letter explaining
what happened and, if applicable, photocopies of a police report. The Secretary of State will send you a certificate of authorization
in order to obtain a new seal/stamp from the vendor of your choice. If the seal/stamp
was lost or stolen, obtaining a different type of seal/stamp is suggested.
Notary Address and/or Name Change
Notary Address Change
Each notary public issued a commission shall notify the Secretary of State by mail within 60 days of any change
of address. If a notary fails to notify the Secretary of State within 60 days of a change
of address, a late fee in the amount of ten dollars may be imposed.
If the notary is changing their address to another location within North Dakota they must submit the Change of Address form (SFN 50445) (120kb pdf) or a letter of notice.
notary is moving outside of North Dakota, but in a county that borders North Dakota and which extends reciprocity to a notary
public, the Appointment of Agent form (SFN 19369) (62kb pdf) must be filed with the Secretary of State.
If the notary moves outside of North Dakota and its bordering counties they must resign their commission by notifying the
Secretary of State within 60 days of the effective date of the resignation. Records of the notary public must be deposited
in the office of the Secretary of State except for the seal/stamp which must be destroyed as provided in section 44-06-04.
Notary Name Change
A notary who has legally changed their name
must notify the Secretary of State within 60 days by submitting a rider to their surety bond stating both the old and new
name, the effective date of the new name, a Notary Name Change form (SFN 51261) (63kb pdf) along with a ten dollar fee. If a notary fails to notify the Secretary of State
within 60 days of the name change, a late fee in the amount of ten dollars may be imposed.
Upon receipt of the rider and fee the Secretary of State shall issue a certificate of authorization that a notary public
may use to obtain a new seal/stamp. Once the authorization is on file the Secretary of State shall issue a certificate with
the notary's new name. After notification to the Secretary of State of the name change and until a new seal/stamp is obtained,
the notary may continue to use the old seal/stamp but must sign any notarial certificate substantially as follows:
Notary Public North Dakota
Formerly known and commissioned
notary is accountable for every word in the notarial certificate. A notary shall not notarize any document which does not
have a complete notarial certificate on the document or on an attachment to the document.
A notary should never assume a preprinted certificate complies with law, nor is it accurate or truthful. A
notary should scrutinize the preprinted certificate for legality, accuracy and truthfulness.
Notary certificates need not be typed or printed in order to be valid. They may be hand written in
ink. The notary certificates need not be on the same page as the signature being notarized. If necessary, the notary should
prepare the certificate on a separate page and attach it to the document on which the notarized signature appears. If the
certificate is on a separate page you may want to add additional wording for extra security.
"This notary certificate is prepared on a separate page and is attached to the document entitled___________,
containing__________ pages and is attached to that document by means of __________(staple, glue, tape)."
When a signature is notarized, one of two official notarial acts take place. These are acknowledgments
or the administering of an oath (or affirmation) to the document signer. They each have a different purpose.
Acknowledgments are the simple authentication
of a signature. They prove or acknowledge that the signer personally appeared and was identified before the notary public.
To make an acknowledgment, the document signer must personally appear
before the notary public, and declare that he/she has executed and signed the document voluntarily. The notary should ensure
that the signer understands the document and has not been coerced into signing. If there is any question about the signer’s
willingness to execute the document or his/her understanding of the terms of the document, a notary should refuse to notarize.
The notary may want to ask the signer "Do you acknowledge that this is your signature and that you are executing this
document of your own free will?" If yes, the notary should complete a certificate that states the signer acknowledged
the document. Example of Acknowledgment (72kb pdf)
are the authentication of a signature made under oath or affirmation. An oath or affirmation is administered to a document
signer when the signer is required to make a sworn statement about certain facts. The signer personally appears before the
notary to swear (or affirm) to the notary, an officer duly appointed to administer oaths, that the information contained in
the document is true. A person who makes a false oath or affirmation is subject to criminal charges for perjury. A notarization
requiring an oath should begin with the administration of an oath or affirmation. The notary may want to ask the signer "Do
you swear (or affirm) that the information contained in this document is true?" After receiving an affirmative answer,
the notary must complete a proper notarial certificate indicating that an oath or affirmation was taken. Example of Jurat (72kb pdf)
If the document
the notary is asked to notarize contains a prepared notarial certificate, the key words "acknowledged" or "sworn
to" tell the notary which notarial act is required. If there is no notarial certificate on the document, the signer must
direct the notary whether he/she wants to make an acknowledgment or take an oath. Unless the notary is an attorney, they are
not authorized to advise a person which notarial act is appropriate for the document presented for notarization.
Copy certifications prove the notary compared
the copy of a document with the original and the copy is a true, correct and complete copy of the original. Notaries are not
authorized to certify a copy of a "recordable document" such as birth and death certificates, recorded titles to
property, college transcripts or anything bearing an official government seal. Example of Copy Certifications (8kb pdf)
Notary Terms and Definitions
is a written statement sworn
to before an officer authorized to administer an oath. A person "makes" an affidavit by going before a notary or
other officer and swearing to the contents of a written document. A notary "takes" an affidavit by administering
an oath and completing the certificate.
is the person making a statement under oath.
means the signer confirmed or admitted to the notary to having signed a document.
- Before me means that the act was conducted in the presence of the notary.
is a third person who
personally knows the document signer and verifies the signer’s identity.
means making or completing a signature.
is the notary’s certificate
on an affidavit.
means having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual, which establishes the
individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty.
is valid ID card or papers, or use of a credible witness.
| || || |
| |Old West Mutual Insurance Co.
315 S. Main | Minot, ND 58701