An essential element of notarization is verifying that a signature on the document belongs to the signer. Notarization provides assurance that a document is authentic and intended to be in force, so in its Recommended Notary Practices, the NNA reminds all Notaries to:
Always have the signature on the document affixed or acknowledged in your presence.
There are different signature requirements for the two most common types of notarizations: acknowledgments and jurats. In an acknowledgment, the signer may either present a document he or she has previously signed, or they can sign the document in your presence. Either way the signature is acknowledged through your careful screening for their identity, willingness and awareness.
In a jurat, the signer must always sign the document in your presence. That’s because jurats certify that a person has sworn to the truth of a written statement, and the jurat certificate wording stipulates that the statement was “signed and sworn” before a commissioned Notary Public.
Editor’s Note:Throughout 2011, the Notary Bulletin will focus on one of the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices each month. The complete list of Recommended Notary Practices is available online.