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Powers and Duties
Q1. What are the powers and duties
of a notary?
notary’s duty is to be a neutral witness to the signing of documents. A notary
makes sure that signers are who they say they are and have entered into
agreements knowingly and willingly.
Notaries in Colorado can administer oaths and affirmations
and certify copies. They can also take acknowledgements, depositions, affidavits,
verifications, and other sworn testimony or statements. For more information,
see the Notary Handbook (PDF).
Q2. What is a jurat?
word "jurat" is used to refer to the notarization of an oath or
affirmation. Jurat is short for the Latin "juratum est," meaning,
"It has been sworn."
Q3. What is the difference between
an oath and an affirmation?
Oaths and affirmations are both pledges sworn to before a notary public
attesting to the truth of a given statement. An oath calls upon a supreme being
as a witness, while an affirmation is made under penalty of perjury.
Q4. What is an acknowledgement?
A4. In an acknowledgment, the notary is guaranteeing
- The signer was in the notary’s
- The notary identified the signer.
- The signer appeared to be willing
and able to execute the document.
- The notary witnessed the signing of
the document (called the "execution" of the document).
Technically, most acknowledgments don’t have to be signed in the notary’s
presence. However, the best practice would be to have the client sign the
acknowledgment in front of the notary. (See the Notary Handbook (PDF) for more information on this subject.)
Q5. Does the signer always have to
be in my physical presence when I notarize a document?
For every type of notarization, state law requires that the signer appear in
the physical presence of the notary. You must also have satisfactory
evidence of identity- evidence that signers are who they say they are.
Violations of this requirement are the reason for more than half of all
complaints filed against notaries.
Q6. What is acceptable
identification or satisfactory evidence of identity?
A6. You must see an acceptable form of identification in
order to have satisfactory evidence of identity.
Acceptable identification must:
- Be a current identification card or
document issued by a federal or state governmental entity.
- Have a photograph of the signer.
- Contain the signature of the signer.
The notary can also accept a sworn statement from a credible witness as proof
of identity. The witness must be personally known to the notary and state that
he or she knows the signer.
Q7. What is a notarial certificate?
A7. A notarial certificate, also called a notarization,
is a written statement of your actions as a notary. A certificate must be used
in every notarial transaction. A certificate is your testimony about what you
have done and witnessed in your official capacity.
The notarial certificate will have:
- A statement such as "subscribed
and sworn to before me in the county of Denver, State of Colorado, by John
Jones this 10th day of July, 2009".
- Your official signature and seal.
- The statement "Notary Public,
my commission expires: January 31, 2012".
Q8. What must be in a notarial
A8. A notarial certificate must have:
- The location where the notarization
took place or the venue of the notarial act. This includes the county (or city
and county, in the case of Broomfield and Denver) and the state.
- When the notarization took place or
the date of the notarial act.
You may not pre- or post-date any notarial certificate. There are no
- What the notarial act was (oath or
affirmation, acknowledgement, preparation of a certified copy).
- The notary's seal either embossed or
- The notary's commission expiration
date (the exact month, day and year of expiration).
- The notary's official signature consistent
with the signature that appears on the notary application.
Q9. Are notaries restricted to a
A Colorado notary public has authority to act anywhere in the state.
Q10. Can I notarize documents that
came from outside the state?
Documents originating from another state may be notarized as long as you
perform the notarial act in Colorado and the signer appears before you.
Q11. Can I notarize documents when I
am physically outside the state of Colorado?
You can only perform notarial acts while you are physically in the state of
Q12. Can a notary certify a copy of
a birth, death, marriage, or divorce certificate, or a Certificate of
A12. No. The
Clerk and Recorder of the county where the documents were originally recorded
must certify documents regarding real property, marriages, or divorces.
In the case of divorce, the Clerk of the Court that issued
the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage can provide a certified copy of the order.
The Vital Records section of the Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment is the only place to get official copies of birth
or death certificates.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides
certified copies of Certificates of Naturalization. See "How Do I Obtain Certified True Copies of a
Certificate of Naturalization?"
on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Q13. Can I notarize a document that
has spaces left blank?
A notary should skim the document for
blanks and ask the document signer to fill them in. If they are intentionally
left blank, then the signer should put a line through them or write "N/A.”
Q14. Can I notarize a fax or a
photocopy of a document?
A photocopy or fax can be notarized, but the copy must have an original
signature (it must be signed with pen and ink- the signature can’t be a copy).
A photocopied or faxed signature can be notarized as an
acknowledgment if the original signer of the document appears before the
notary. For example, the signer may have signed the original document in the
past, but now only has a copy. The notary can take an acknowledgment from the
signer that the signature on the fax copy is that of the signer.
Q15. Can I notarize a document that
doesn't have a date?
but if there is a space for a date it should be filled in with the correct date
or lined through by the document signer. If the document simply doesn't have a
date, you can notarize it and record in your journal that the document had no
Q16. Can I notarize my own document
A16. No. A notary public who has a disqualifying interest
in a transaction cannot legally perform any notarial act in connection with
A notary public has a disqualifying interest in a transaction if he or she:
- May receive directly, or as a
proximate result of the notarization, any advantage, right, title, interest,
cash, or property exceeding in value the sum of any fee properly received, or
- Is named, individually, as a party
to the transaction.
In other words, if the document concerns you, or if you might benefit from it
directly or indirectly, you cannot notarize it.
Q17. Can I notarize the signatures
of my spouse, children, parents or other relatives?
are not prohibited from witnessing and notarizing the signatures of a spouse or
other relatives. However, a notary public who has a disqualifying interest in a
transaction cannot legally perform any notarial act in connection with the
transaction. If the document were to be questioned for any reason, the notarial
act may be looked at more closely than if the notary was not a relative.
In addition, if the witnessed document is one from which you
might benefit, your right to receive that benefit may be jeopardized. To avoid
questions about your impartiality as a notary as well as accusations of undue
influence, it is always safest for a signer to find a notary that he or she is
not related to.
Q18. How do I fix incorrect
information on the document or on the notarial certificate?
Only the document signer can make changes to the document.
Only the notary can correct the certificate. When you are
correcting a notarial certificate, put a line through the mistake with ink,
write the correction above or beside it, then initial and date the correction.