Notary Public Duties in California

Dear ,

This summary outlines the key responsibilities and regulations for Notaries Public in California. Remember: Refer to the online study guide for in-depth information to prepare for the exam.

Maintaining Notary Records:

  • Notaries must keep one active journal, secured under their exclusive control.
  • Journal entries must be recorded promptly, sequentially, and in detail for each notarized act.
  • Upon request, notaries can provide copies of journal entries at a set fee.
  • In case of criminal investigation, the notary journal may be surrendered to a peace officer.
  • Loss, destruction, or theft of the journal needs immediate reporting to the California Secretary of State.

Notary Seal Requirements:

  • A certificate of authorization is required to order a seal from an approved vendor.
  • Seals must meet size specifications and contain specific information, including notary name, commission details, and jurisdiction.
  • Notaries are responsible for maintaining the security of their seal and using it solely for notary duties.
  • Unclear seal impressions require replacement, and any damage or loss needs to be reported to the Secretary of State.
  • Notaries must destroy or deface their seal upon termination of service.

Performing Notarial Acts:

  • Notaries cannot notarize incomplete documents. They must visually inspect documents for missing information.
  • Foreign language documents can be notarized, but the notary must communicate with the customer without an interpreter.
  • Notaries verify signer identity using acceptable ID documents or credible witnesses.
  • Specific requirements exist for acceptable identification documents.
  • When a credible witness is used to establish signer identity, the notary must confirm the witness’s identity as well.
  • Notaries record all performed acts sequentially in their journal, including details like date, time, and type of act.

Understanding Acknowledgements:

  • Notaries cannot acknowledge incomplete documents.
  • They must confirm signer identity and document acknowledgement through satisfactory evidence.
  • A detailed journal entry is required for each acknowledgment, including specifics like date, document type, and how identity was verified.
  • In certain cases, a right thumbprint may be required alongside the signature.
  • The notary certificate of acknowledgement must be completed at the time of notarization and adhere to specific formatting guidelines.

Other Notarial Acts:

  • Jurats involve verifying document truthfulness and administering oaths or affirmations.
  • Proof of execution by a subscribing witness is used when the principal is unavailable to sign in person.
  • Notaries can witness signatures by mark for signers with writing disabilities.
  • Notaries can certify copies of powers of attorney and journal entries, but not birth, fetal, death, or marriage records.

Immigration Documents and Limitations:

  • Notaries can notarize signatures on immigration documents but cannot assist in completing them.
  • Legal professionals or registered consultants are authorized to help with immigration document completion.
  • Notaries advertising in non-English must clearly disclose limitations and avoid using terms like “notario publico” or providing Spanish translations.
  • Violations can lead to commission suspension or revocation.

Additional Information:

  • Notaries have limitations on performing services where they have a financial interest.
  • They cannot provide legal advice or comment on legal aspects of documents.
  • Notaries are responsible for understanding the consequences of misconduct, which can include penalties and commission revocation.
  • Notaries must maintain accurate records and report any changes in address or name to the Secretary of State.

Best regards,
The NotaryRoute Team

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