- Require the physical presence of all persons for whom you perform notarial acts. The person who has signed a document must be physically with you at the time you complete a jurat or certificate
- Make sure all jurats and certificates of acknowledgment you complete are worded exactly the same as required by California Government Code section 8202 (jurat) or California Civil Code section 1189 (certificate of acknowledgment). Sample notarial certificates are available on the California Secretary of State’s website.
- Complete a notarial certificate for every official act. Merely signing and stamping your notary public seal on a document is not a notarial act. The notarial certificate should be endorsed on the document or a separate notarial certificate should be stapled to the document. The notary public seal only may be stamped in the area designated on the notarial certificate. Stamping your notary public seal on additional pages attached to the notarial certificate is not permitted.
- Keep your notary journal and official seal in a locked and secure place where only you have access. Do not permit anyone to assist you in completing journal entries. Your notary journal and official seal always must be under your direct and exclusive control, not even your employer can have access.
- Notify the Secretary of State immediately, in writing by certified mail or registered mail or any other means of delivery that provides a receipt, if your journal or seal is lost or stolen. Include a photocopy of the police report, if available.
- The notary public must surrender the journal upon request to a peace officer acting in his or her official capacity and within his or her authority investigating a criminal offense with a reasonable
suspicion to believe the journal contains evidence of a criminal offense, as defined in California Penal Code sections 830.1, 830.2, and 830.3. The notary public must notify the Secretary of State that the journal was seized within 10 calendar days.
- Record, without abbreviations, all the information required by law to be recorded for each and every notarial act. Any member of the public may request a copy of a specific line item entry from the journal, which would be useless if that line is filled with indecipherable abbreviations or quotation marks. A complete entry is necessary to provide a complete record of the notarial act. California law requires that you record the following in your journal line items: the date and
7 time of each notarial act; the type of notarial act performed (e.g., jurat, acknowledgment, certified copy of a power of attorney); the type of document notarized (e.g., deed of trust, permission to travel); the signature of every person whose signature is being notarized; the details of the identification document used to identify the signer of the document being notarized, including the type of identification (e.g., driver’s license, passport), the government agency that issued the identification, the serial number on the identification and the date of issue or date of expiration of the identification document; the fee charged; and when required, a thumbprint. If one or two credible witnesses are used to identify the signer of the document,
the name of each credible witness and the details of the identification documents of each credible witness also must be recorded in the journal line item.
- Rely only on the acceptable identification documents listed in California Civil Code section 1185 to establish satisfactory evidence of identification. Identification cards such as social security cards, credit cards, student identification cards, and employer identification cards are not acceptable forms of identification for notarization purposes.
- Obtain a thumbprint from every person for whom you notarize a deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust, any other document affecting real property, or a power of attorney document.
- Submit your journal after your commission expires to the county clerk’s office where your oath is on file.