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THE NOTARIAL ACT

What is a notarial act?
As defined in the notary statutes, a notarial act is any act that a notary public of this state is authorized to perform, including taking an acknowledgment, administering an oath or affirmation, executing a jurat or taking a verification upon oath or affirmation, witnessing or attesting a signature, certifying or attesting a copy, and noting a protest of a negotiable instrument.

Are both my stamp and my signature required for a notarial act?
Yes. However, you also need to complete the notarial wording. Your signature and stamp by themselves do not constitute a complete notarization. You also need to complete the notarial wording.

When affixing my signature and using the stamp, how close together must they appear on the paper?
No certain distance is required by law. Both must appear on the document somewhere. Use reasonable judgment.

Does the document need to be signed in front of me?
Yes. The statutes require that you see the signer actually sign the document when the notarial wording is that of a JURAT. In the case of an acknowledgment, the person is simply acknowledging (declaring, stating) that he or she signed the document. If you not know the signer, he or she must present identification along with signing your journal.

Do I have to know what type of document I am notarizing?
Yes. The type of document is almost always described by its title e.g., affidavit, etc. This information must be entered in your journal.

Can I notarize a document that is written in a foreign language?
In most instances, yes. All you need is a title to put in your journal, and you can use the title the person gives you. However, you may not be able to witness a signature because you must be able to tell if that person is named in the document. If you are asked to certify a copy, you should make the photocopy yourself rather than try to compare two copies. You may need to check with an interpreter as to the type, or title, of the document. If this document is false or endorses or promotes a product, you will not know that. Finally, if the document is written in a language you can not read, you must add the notarial wording in English.

What if I am asked to notarize a signature that is on a blank piece of paper (no text)?
You must ask your customer to write an explanation as to why they want their signature notarized in addition to their signature. This statement may be as simple as: " I have been asked to have my signature notarized for verification"

If a person needs help formulating a document, can I give advice?
No.

Must I be concerned with whether the form is properly filled out, as long as the notarial certificate is correct?
It's not the notary's responsibility to check that the form is properly filled out, but it is the notary's responsibility to make sure the notarial wording is correct and complete.

What should I do if I determine a document is forged or fraudulent?
Don't notarize it. As a responsible citizen, you should also report the crime to law enforcement although nothing in the notarial law requires this.

Can I take a deposition?
The authority to take a deposition was removed from the list of notarial acts in the law by the 1995 Legislature. Certified court reporters who have been appointed notaries public with limited powers take depositions.

How do I notarize a signature on a document that has carbons? Do I have to notarize each copy of the original document?
If the document signer wants original signatures on each of the carbons, then you notarize each page just as if each page was an original. If the document signer does not want original signatures on each of the carbons, but only wants to show that the original was notarized, then stamp each carbon with your stamp and write next to your stamp the words "conformed copy."

IDENTIFYING THE CLIENT

How many pieces of ID should I require?
As many as necessary to give you satisfactory evidence that the person whose signature is on the document is that person. One may be sufficient. If you rely on an identifying document, that document must contain a signature and a photograph of the document signer.

Should I note which ID was used in my journal?
Yes. The law requires that the notary enter into the journal a description of the evidence used to verify the identification of the signer.

If a credible witness is used, that person must also sign your journal. If you personally know the document signer, write "personally known" in the proper column.

Does a credible witness need to be present or can he or she verify identity by phone or letter?
The credible witness needs to be present.

Is a photo ID required?
The law requires a identification card with a photo and signature of the document siger must be on the identification card.  

Are there any exceptions?
In 1997 the law was changed regarding identification of a person who is 65 years of age or older. If such a person does not have a picture ID, the person can be identified with a card issued by a governmental agency or senior citizen center. Use this method of identification only if there is absolutely no other way to identify the document signer.

Can I use an expired photo ID if the signature and photo match the person before me?
The statute doesn't address expired IDs. You, the notary, have to make the determination of whether the ID presented is satisfactory or not. You must be satisfied that the person making the acknowledgment/verification is the person whose signature is on the document.

How do I notarize the signature of someone who is from another country if that person's ID has been stolen?
The standard for determining identity is the same. If no written ID is available, a credible witness can be used. Remember, the credible witness must be present and known to you.

If I'm asked to notarize a document that is already signed, can I have the signer sign another piece of paper so I can compare the signatures?
The best procedure is to have the signer sign the document again in your presence, either above or below the original signature. You need not cross out the original signature. You may also have the person sign another piece of paper so that you may compare signatures. (Remember, however, this is not necessary when taking an acknowledgment.)

Can a "mark" be accepted as the individual's signature?
Yes, Nevada law, NRS 52.305 (1991) states:

  1. The signature of a party, when required to a written instrument, is equally valid if the party cannot write, if:
    1. The person makes his mark;
    2. The name of the person making the mark is written near it; and
    3. The mark is witnessed by a person who writes his own name as a witness.
  2. In order that a signature by mark may be acknowledged or may serve as the signature to any sworn statement, it must be witnessed by two persons who must subscribe their own names as witnesses thereto.

KEEPING THE JOURNAL

Do I have to purchase a special kind of journal? If so, where?
Yes, a special journal is required: one that is bound and has pre-printed pages. You may purchase one from an office supply store.

May two notaries share one journal?
No. Each notary is responsible for his or her own work and must be ready to stand accountable for the information entered in the journal.

During what hours must my journal be open for public inspection?
During the hours you would normally be at work.

How public is the notary journal? Exactly who can inspect it?
Anyone can inspect your journal.

Do I have to open my journal for public inspection when it may include confidential information such as social security numbers, account numbers, or address?
The journal is open to public inspection. According to law, the only seven pieces of information that must be in the journal are: the fee charged (if any), the title of the document, the date the service was performed, the name and signature of the person whose signature is being notarized, a description of the evidence used by the notary to verify the identification of the person whose signature is being notarized, and whether an oath was administered.

May I refuse to notarize for someone who refuses to sign my journal?
Yes, because the notary law requires that the journal be signed.

How long must I keep my journal?
You must keep your journal(s) during the entire period of time for which you are a notary public in this state. After your commission(s) expire and you are no longer a notary, you must keep all your journals for an additional 7 years.

If I stop being a notary or if I die, what happens to my journal?
Notify the Secretary of State writing as to the location of the journal if it is within the time frame described in the previous question. After this time frame, your estate may dispose of the journal(s). The stamp must be destroyed immediately.

Can I "hide" a document in my journal by giving it a false title in an effort to protect a client who does not want, for example, anyone to know he/she adopted a child?
No. The title of the document and person's name is required by statute to be in your journal.

Does every single transaction need to be recorded even if they are all for the same person?
Yes.

What does "title of the matter" mean in NRS 240.120? Would it be "acknowledgment" or "loan agreement"?
It's the title of the document, so it would be "loan agreement."

THE NOTARIAL STAMP

May I have more than one stamp made to keep one at home and one at the office?
Yes. Remember, you need your Certificate of Appointment to get a stamp according to law.

How important is it that I use black ink for my stamp as opposed to some other color?
The notary law states that you may use any color ink as long as it is indelible and photographically reproducible.

When there is no room for the notarial certificate (such as on many DMV documents), may I use my stamp on the back or attach one on another piece of paper? How should I indicate that this is what I have done?
The notary stamp must be readable, and the 1997 law prohibits placing your notary stamp or your signature over printed material. You may use the back of the document or use an attached sheet. Note on the document that a notarial certificate is attached and note on the notarial certificate the kind of document to which it is attached. This will also apply if you notarized the back of the document. Keep in mind, the best place for the notary wording and your notary stamp is on the face of the document where the signature of the document signer appears.

May I, or must I, change the venue if it is printed with the wrong state or county?
You, the notary, authenticate all your acts by, among other things, setting forth the venue. This implies that the venue be true and correct, so if a document has an incorrect venue, you must correct it.

Should I keep my notary stamp locked away at all times?
It's a good idea to keep your notary stamp secure at all times, whether that's locked in your desk or someplace else.

CERTIFYING TO A COPY

Must I see the original document when notarizing a certified copy?
No, the law allows you to certify to a document presented to you. The notarial wording used to certify a copy does not indicate that you are certifying to an original document.

When I am asked to "certify to a copy" of a document and I notice that the notarial stamp on the original had in fact expired before the document was notarized, can I still certify to the copy?
Yes, as long as the copy is complete, accurate, and authentic. The notary does not determine the legality of any document.

If I am asked to make a certified copy, but the document is in a foreign language, can I refuse to do so on the grounds that I may actually be photocopying a document that cannot be legally photocopied?
Yes. However, you cannot refuse to notarize an affidavit or acknowledgment as long as all the other requirements are met.

Is it legal to certify a copy of a birth, death, or marriage certificate, or a decree of divorce, as being true and correct?
No, and the new law reflects this. Current Nevada law, NRS 440.175(2)(1993), states:

  1. No person may prepare or issue any document which purports to be an original, certified copy, certified abstract or official copy of:
    1. A certificate of birth, death or fetal death, except as authorized in this chapter or by the state board of health.
    2. A certificate of marriage, except a county recorder or a person so required pursuant to NRS 122.120 (the person solemnizing the marriage).
    3. A decree of divorce or annulment of marriage, except a county clerk or the judge of a court of record.
LEGALITY

Does the law require that I photocopy the document after it's notarized for my file?
No, the law does not require it. Because of copyright laws, we don't recommend that you do this.

What is the difference between a jurat and an acknowledgment? Are they interchangeable?
No, the terms are not interchangeable. A "jurat" is that part of a affidavit in which you, the notary, state that it was sworn to before you."Acknowledgment" means a declaration by a person that he or she executed an instrument for the purposes stated therein and, if the instrument is executed in a representative capacity, that he or she signed the instrument with proper authority and executed it as the act of the person of entity represented and identified therein.

May I notarize my own signature?
No.

May I notarize for a relative?
You cannot notarize for your spouse or anyone to whom you are related by blood. The law addresses this complicated question in detail. Please see NRS 240.065 for specifics.

What is meant by the term "executed" in NRS 240.065 and to whom does it apply?
"Executed" means signed and refers to the notary.

I am a loan officer. May I notarize my own documents?
The statute says, "a notary public cannot perform any act where he/she will receive directly from the transaction relating to the instrument any commission, fee, advantage, right, title, interest, property or other consideration in excess of the authorized fees."

May I notarize my own work if I am a secretary?
If you type a document, you may then notarize the signature as long as all legal requirements regarding ID are met. Remember, you cannot notarize your own signature.

Must I determine if the person signing before me understands what he or she is signing?
You are not obligated to make this determination. If you are not comfortable performing a notarial service, you may refuse (see NRS 240.060).

If the document does not have the printed information for a notarial act, what wording am I allowed to type in or affix, and how do I determine which notarial act is required?
See "What a Notary Does" in this handbook for suggested wording and a definition of each notarial act.

On a holographic will, do the witnesses' signatures need to be notarized as well as the signer?
Each state's laws regarding holographic wills are different. In Nevada, NRS 133.090(1) states that "[a] holographic will is one that is entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of this state and need not be witnessed." So there are not necessarily any witnesses to a holographic will and no signatures need to be notarized in Nevada.

How is a notary's signature authenticated on a document in this country?
The act of authenticating a notarial officer's signature can be done only by the Secretary of State's office. You must let the individuals appearing before you know that they are responsible for sending their notarized document to the Secretary of State's office along with the appropriate fee of $20.00. The Secretary of State prepares the authentication and will then mail it and the notarized document back to the sender.

How is a notarized document authenticated for use overseas?
Most foreign countries insist that the notary's signature be authenticated and, again, this can only be accomplished through the Secretary of State's office. The act of authenticating the notarial officer's signature on documents going overseas is called an "Apostille" or "certification." You must let the individuals appearing before you know that they are responsible for sending their notarized document to the Secretary of State's office along with the appropriate fee of $20.00. The Secretary of State prepares the authentication and will then mail it and the notarized document back to the sender.

CARRYING OUT THE BUSINESS OF BEING A NOTARY

Can my employer deny me the right to notarize after hours?
No, your appointment belongs to you, the notary, not your employer (see NRS 240.010, 240.100(4), and 240.143).

May I set aside certain hours to notarize documents for the general public and limit notarization to those hours? (Example: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. only)
This is a business decision to be made by each notary. The law does not prohibit such a practice.

Do I have to declare that I am a notary if a person off the street asks, "Where can I find a notary?"
No. The notary law simply states that "a notary public may, during normal business hours, perform notarial acts in lawful transactions for a person who requests the act and tenders the appropriate fee" (see NRS 240.060).

If I leave my current job and that employer paid for my becoming a notary, am I no longer a notary?
No, you are still a notary. However, be aware that the employer may cancel your bond, and you would be required to get a new one. If you are not allowed to take your stamp with you, it must be destroyed and you can purchase a new one. The stamp, journal, and Certificate of Appointment are the property of the notary (seeNRS 240.143).

FEES

Do I have to post the fees?
If you are going to charge, you must post the fees. If you don't charge fees, you don't have to post the fees (seeNRS 240.110).

What may I charge?

Current Fees as of October 1, 1999  (see NRS 240.100)
For taking an acknowledgment, for the first signature of each signer $5.00
For each additional signer $2.50
For administering an oath or affirmation without a signature $2.50
For a certified copy $2.50
For a jurat, for each signature on the affidavit $5.00

Can I charge one person and not the next?
The statute doesn't require that you charge a fee. But if you charge one person and not another, other laws such as those prohibiting discrimination may be applicable. Check with an attorney.

If my employer pays for my notary appointment and equipment, who gets to keep the fees collected?
The statutes state that the notary can charge a fee. The issue of who keeps the fee in this example can be negotiated between you and your employer.

Why is it so cheap to notarize documents in Nevada; isn't it as good as in other states?
The Nevada Legislature determines the fees without reference to the notary policies of other states. The 1993 Nevada Legislature did increase the fees you can charge.

As a notary, can I make a "house call" to notarize a document?
Yes, but if a travel fee is going to be assessed, pursuant to NRS 240.100(3)(d)(1)(2), full disclosure of the travel fee must be made in advance of the travel and be agreed upon by the person requesting the service.  All fees collected, the date and time of day must be recored in the notary journal.

I don't understand the fees for 'first signature, second signature.  Could you please explain this in more detail?

IF you customer comes to you with one (1) document requiring you to notarize their signature on, you may collect $5.00.  If they came to you with two (2) documents and required their signature notarized on both documents, you may collect $5.00 for the first document and $2.50 for the second document.  Your total for this notarization would be $7.50.

IF two (2) document signers appeared before you requesting their signatures be notarized on one (1) document, you may collect $5.00 from each individual giving you at total of $10.00. IF this couple required their signatures to be notarized on two (2) documents, you could collect $5.00 from each for the first document and $2.50 from each on the second document.  In this case, the total amount you may collect would be $15.00 for this notary act.   

YOUR APPOINTMENT

Can another notary administer the notarial oath to swear me in--as required by NRS 240.030(1)--or must the county clerk perform this function?
Another notary can administer this oath. So could the Secretary of State or a Deputy Secretary of State or another notarial officer such as a judge. Remember, the oath and bond must be filed with the county clerk of the county in which you reside.

What is the oath I administer when swearing in a notary?
You may use the following oath:

State of Nevada
County of _______________

I, ____________________, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States, and the Constitution and Government of the State of Nevada, against all enemies, whether domestic of foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any State notwithstanding, and that I will and faithfully perform all the duties of the office of Notary Public on which I am about to enter; (if an oath) so help me God; (if an affirmation) under the pains and penalties of perjury.

____________________________________

Subscribed and sworn to before me this
______________day of____________,19______
by ______(name of person making statement)
___________________________________________
Notary Public

May I be appointed in more than one county in Nevada?
Your appointment authorizes you to notarize anywhere in the State, and the venue will reflect the county in which the notarial act is carried out. There is no need to be appointed in more than one county.

Must I transfer my bond and appointment if I move from one county to another?
The law requires that you amend your appointment by notifying the Secretary of State within 30 days of changing your county of residence. Consult your insurance company for the requirements of your bond.

I was recently married. Do I need to change my stamp, bond, and application on file with the Secretary of State?
If you change your name, you must amend your appointment by notifying the Secretary of State. You must purchase a new stamp to reflect your changed name with the same expiration date. Consult your insurance company regarding your bond.

Under what circumstances can my appointment be revoked? What are the penalties?
Your notary appointment may be revoked or suspended for a period of time to be determined by the Secretary of State for misconduct, willful violation, or neglect of duty. The fines range from $200 to $2,000 and are determined according to the reason your appointment was revoked. See the statutes for specifics NRS 240.150.

If my appointment is revoked, can I ever be a notary again?
Whether your appointment is revoked or suspended is determined by the Secretary of State following a formal hearing for misconduct or neglect. The finding will give specific instructions on future appointments.

How does one file a complaint about a notary?
Contact the Notary Division in the Secretary of State's office.

Who is covered by my bond?
The person who may incur a loss as a result of a notary's misconduct. This bond is not insurance for you and will not protect youfrom a lawsuit. You may want to purchase errors and omissions insurance. Consult an insurance agent for clarification.

Questions We Haven't Answered?

Please contact us:

Secretary of State Notary Division
101 North Carson Street #3
Carson City, Nevada 89701
Phone: 775-684-5708
FAX 775-684-7141

Last updated: 2/1/2010 1:21:58 PM