At some point you may need to have a statement or document notarized. The statement could be related to an identity theft claim, an insurance matter or some other legal issue. The notarization process runs more smoothly when the statement or document in question is completed accurately and you have brought all the required items with you, including any witnesses, forms of personal identification and sometimes even an ink pen of a certain color.
Complete all sections and fields in the document as accurately as possible. A notary does not validate the contents of a document, but merely verifies the identity of the individual signing it. The notary cannot give you legal, tax, financial or other advice normally given by professionals licensed in those fields unless he is also licensed in that profession. However, a notary may be wary of a document containing blank spaces and may ask you to fill them in, according to the National Notary Association.
Print using blue or black ink (if the document in question contains areas requiring material to be handwritten), unless the document explicitly prescribes a certain color of ink.
Locate a notary public. Many websites contain searchable databases that can be used to find a notary in your area, such as the American Society of Notaries Notary Locator (see References). Many states offer a similar tool, usually located on the website for the secretary of state. Many shipping stores that offer private mailbox services and packaging supplies also provide notary services.
Inform the notary in advance of any special instructions surrounding the notarization so that these may be accommodated. For example, some entities (such as law firms) may require that the ink used for the notary's stamp be in a color other than black (such as red). These requirements are meant to ensure that the document is an original copy. Normally, instructions of this nature are specified by the entity requiring the notarized statement.
Bring any witnesses with you who may also be required to sign the document so that they may do so in the presence of the notary.
Meet with the notary at his office or another mutually agreeable location and present the document to him for notarization. Unless the notary personally knows you, he will request that you show a valid, government-issued form of picture identification, such as a driver's license or passport. Once the notary is satisfied that you are indeed who you say you are, he will sign and stamp the document, thereby bringing the process to an end. Some notaries may charge for this service.
- Do not sign the document until the notary instructs you to do so in his presence. Some documents may allow an individual to merely confirm having personally signed the instrument. However, affidavits and other documents requiring oaths must be signed in the presence of the notary, according to the laws in many states.
- Laws governing notarization vary from state to state. Specific notary laws are available from state government websites or on professional sites such as the Notary Law Institute (see Resources).
- Rubber stamp image by Bartlomiej Nowak from Fotolia.com