Notaries public are individuals authorized by various legal jurisdictions to perform certain tasks. One of these is the administration of an oath to people giving affidavits, depositions and other legal testimony. The person testifying to the information contained in the affidavit, also known as the affiant, identifies himself and swears that the statements being made in the document are true. The notary public affirms and certifies the affiant's identity and ability to make an oath.
Find a notary public in your area. Types of businesses that are most likely to have a notary on staff include banks, shipping stores, copy centers, law firms, courthouses and title companies. Some notaries will travel to you in order to swear an affidavit, though you will have to pay travel fees in addition to any notarial fees.
Review the affidavit that you are going to sign under oath in front of the notary. Make certain that every sentence in the document is true and that it fully reflects your thoughts, beliefs and experiences. The affidavit will probably have a block for the notary's signature below your signature line. If not, the notary will still be able to sign it.
Show the notary your driver's license or other picture identification. He may require other documents in order to verify that you are who you say you are. If the notary public knows you without needing identification, this step will not be necessary. It is acceptable and legal for a friend to notarize an affidavit on your behalf--as long as the affidavit does not concern anything that could impact or benefit your friend.
Sign the affidavit in front of the notary. Some notaries may choose to read a short oath to you before swearing to your signature; however, in most cases, the notary assumes that, if you are signing the document, it reflects what you want it to say. A formal swearing in is not necessary in order for the affidavit to be notarized.
Make sure the notary signs and dates the affidavit in the proper place below your signature. In many jurisdictions, a notary must then affix a seal on his signature. Once the notary has signed the affidavit, it is legal and valid and can be used for its official purpose.
Notaries usually charge a nominal amount for their services--anywhere from $2 to $4--depending on where their notarial appointment resides.
Different counties have different requirements for individuals to be appointed as a notary public, so make certain you use a notary who is licensed in your particular county and state.
- signature image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com