The Notarization Process

What is a Notary?
A Notary is a person of integrity, appointed by the Secretary of State to verify the identity of document signers. A Notary also performs copy certifications and administers oaths and affirmations.
What is a Notarization?
A notarization is a certificate filled out by the Notary, certifying certain facts about the signer and document. The Notary does not verify the accuracy or validity of the document.
Proper Identification

Proper identification is required for any notarial service that requires verification of signature. California recognizes the following types of identification as valid:

  • California Driver License or ID Card
  • A United States passport
  • Driver license or ID card (non-driver’s) issued by another state
  • Mexican or Canadian driver license issued by an authorized agency
  • US Military identification card (must include signature)
  • Foreign passport
  • California State, County, or City ID card (with photo, serial no., signature, and issue or expiration date)
  • The Consular card (must have physical description, photo, signature, serial#)
  • Federally recognized Tribal ID card (must have physical description, photo, signature, serial#)
  • Inmate ID card or wristband for incarcerated signers

All of these ID cards must be either current or issued within the last 5 years. These are the only California-approved ID cards. Should you be unable to provide one of these ID cards, you may be identified on the oath or affirmation of credible identifying witnesses who have their own approved ID card. Credible Identifying witnesses must have personal knowledge of your identity, believe it is not reasonable for you to obtain the approved ID, and be honest, aware, and impartial.

What is an Apostille?
Apostille (pronounced ah-po-stee) is a French word which means a certification. In notary language, it refers to a certificate issued by the Secretary of State to authenticate the signature of a notary public and other public officers then placed on documents that are to be sent overseas. The Apostille certifies that the notary’s commission is current and the notary is in good standing.
What is an Acknowledgment?
When a California notary performs an Acknowledgment, it means that the signer must “acknowledge” their signature to the notary by signing in front of the notary or, if it had already been signed, communicating to the notary at the time of notarization that the signature already on the document is theirs. This means that a document does not need to be signed in the notary’s presence if the notary is performing an Acknowledgment because the signer will otherwise “acknowledge” their signature to the notary, usually by communicating either verbally or in writing, in the notaries physical presence, something like, “I have already signed the document”.
What is a Jurat?
When a notary administers a Jurat, the signer must be given an oath (or affirmation) by the notary pertaining to the truthfulness of the contents contained in the document. A document that requires an acknowledgment does not require an oath but a Jurat procedure means that the notary has required and obtained an oath from the signer at the time of notarization. The signer must sign the document in front of the notary at time of notarization.