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Notary Public Basics

Embosser on Notary Documents

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A Notary can be a lawyer or other official of impeccable integrity appointed by the government to serve the public impartially as a witness in the undertaking of legal affairs. Notaries act as fraud deterrents related to the signing of crucial documents. As a public official, they are charged with the mandate of administering and taking affirmations and oaths as well as notarizing legal documents.

Though notaries public are regarded as public officials, they aren’t paid by the government but obtain income through charging fees as well as a provision of free services for the public good.

Grounds under which a notary public may refuse to notarize a document

  • When the notary public cannot verify the identity of the signer
  • In case the notary does not have their notary journal and notary seal available for the notarization
  • When there is communication barrier with the signer
  • If they have reasons to suspect that the transaction amounts to fraud
  • When the signer fails to appear in person before the notary during the time of notarization
  • If the document to be signed contains blank spaces
  • The document to be signed lacks a notarial certificate

Business hours

Notary law dictates that notaries should not refuse to provide their service during business hours unless there is a proper basis to decline the notarization. However, a Notary public can refuse to notarize legal documents beyond business hours and /or on holidays and weekends.

Contents of the document

A notary public is not held responsible for the contents of the documents they notarize. The duties and responsibilities of the notary public are only restricted to the execution of proper notarial procedures.


In case a document has been signed by a principal signer, the notary public should not notarize any changes in the document. Under no conditions should the notary public knowingly allow corrections or revisions to be made on the document that is already notarized. Such corrections or revisions could alter the intent of the document and in turn adversely affect the signer(s) who initially signed the document.

A notary public is absolved from any responsibility regarding the contents of the document to be signed. In case the document is altered; have multiple changes or whiteouts; it is incumbent upon the signer to initiate all the changes and corrections thereon. It is worth noting that the duties and responsibilities of the notary public are only restricted to the execution of notarial procedures in a proper manner.

Refusal to notarize

A notary public ought not to refuse to notarize documents for the public. Notaries are deemed to be officers of the state and public servants with duties imposed on them to provide their services to the general public.

A notary public does not limit themselves for the purposes of their employer, but he should also extend his services to the general public. In many states, notaries should not deny their services to the public in which case it will amount to a malpractice.


Incarcerated individuals, as well as the notaries public, are subject to the prison system and the policies thereof. Incarcerated individuals are not regarded as members of the general public; hence no duty is imposed upon the notary public to extend their services to the inmates. There exist state and federal statutes that provide the inmates with a substitute for notarization of their documents using unsworn declaration under the penalty of perjury.


Coast 2 Coast Signings is a global signing service dedicated to providing the most convenient, efficient and professional signing services. Our goal is to provide our clients’ with excellent customer service, a knowledgeable staff, and the ability to find experienced notaries wherever and whenever they are needed.