Can I Email Documents To Be Notarized Elsewhere?
Notaries are not available at any of our bank locations. Can the documents be scanned or emailed to another place to be notarized to make it more convenient for our customers, as long as the signer’s ID is checked first? — Pennsylvanian D.T.
No, unless the signer appears in person before the Notary at the other branch at the time of the notarization to be identified by the Notary there and to sign the documents. The signer must appear in person before the Notary who will notarize his or her signature (57 Pa.C.S. 306).
Answers to hotline questions are focused on the laws of the state in which the question was submitted, and may differ from the laws of other states. Always check the state laws if you’re unsure. – Editors’ Notice
Are you dealing with a difficult notarization? Don’t know where to start? NNA participants have unrestricted access to our NNA Hotline counselors, who are expertly qualified to assist you with all of your notarial questions. Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST, call 1-888-876-0827.
Visually Scan the Document;
Laura was given a signature page with a notarial certificate by her manager. “Hey, Laura,” I said. You’re a notary public. “Could you please sign this for me?”
Laura would have been in a pickle a month ago. She was well aware that she couldn’t notarize a document based solely on the signature page. However, she was well aware that her boss was a very private person. Arguing with him that she couldn’t notarize a document if she just had access to the signature page would have been threatening — after all, he was the boss. She had the ammunition she needed today to get this notarization back on track.
Laura took out her notary journal and a laminated 4” x 6” card that she kept with her notary supplies. As she looked for her seal, she casually put it on the table where her boss could see it.
“Sure, Dr. Sayer,” Laura replied, “but I’ll need to see the entire document.” It will only take a fraction of a second. For my logbook, I need to gather a few details about the document.”
Dr. Sayer took Laura’s laminated card and examined it. It read: Since Laura was commissioned in Texas,
Texas Gov’t Code Section § 406.014
The following must be documented or directly guaranteed by notaries public:
- The notarization date is
- Date of the document
- The document’s title (or type).
- Parties’ names
- Resources or property are at stake.
- Many of the blanks have been filled in.
- The total number of pages in the book.
- There are no missing pages.
- The type of notarization that was done
Laura’s boss went back into his office and returned the whole document without hesitation. Laura found the crucial details about the document on her passport, wrote them down in her journal, and completed the notarization.
Laura hadn’t had much luck with signers who didn’t want her to read the entire paper. She’d made the laminated list specifically for situations like this. It helped signers realize that she wasn’t trying to intrude on their privacy; she was just following the rule. She had the authority of her state to back her up by referencing the exact laws that specified how she had to treat the paper.
But, Don’t Invade Privacy!
On the other hand, some notaries overstep their bounds. Let’s be honest. Notaries are people, and people are naturally concerned about other people’s business. Signers may be wary of handing over papers to strangers for review; perhaps this is because notaries have in the past overstepped their bounds and violated their privacy.
In the United States, a notary notarizes a signature on a document to verify that the signature was made by a specific individual, to the extent that a prudent notary may determine the person’s identity. The substance of the document is private, and the presiding notary public is unconcerned about it.
We’ve heard stories of notaries who insisted, incorrectly, on keeping copies of the documents they notarize. Notaries are not required to keep copies of notarized documents in most cases; definitely not for regular affidavits or documents with acknowledgment actions. Notaries are required to hold copies of documents they certify as true copies in certain jurisdictions. We strongly advise against keeping copies of records unless state laws warrant it.
Carole, one of our notary staff, has been disturbed by the intrusive behavior of notaries she has met. She requested that we write an article to explain how to review documents before notarizing them for our readers. Carole expressed herself as follows:
“I’ve had a few docs,” she says.
documents notarized by other notaries over the years I’d like a good definition of what constitutes “too much.” What I mean is that certain notaries would read the entire document before completing the notarization, rather than only approving your credentials and verifying your identity.
I understand that certain documents, such as wills and other legal documents, require extra care in identifying the signer, but I’m talking about plain, clear documents.
Isn’t it the duty of the notary to check the identity of the person signing the paper, but not to go over it with a fine-tooth comb and read it word for word?”
Carole is absolutely right. A notary’s work does not include going over a document with a fine-tooth comb.
How to Visually Scan a Document?
Let the signers feel at ease. When you carry and visually search their private papers, don’t keep them in the dark on what you’re searching for. You may want to create a checklist similar to Laura’s that references your state’s notary record laws and lists the things you need to record in your notary record book. Place it on the table as if you need to make sure you don’t forget something important. Let the signer aware of your motives so that he or she knows you are not trying to steal private information or are simply curious.
For your notary record book, gather information about the text. You do not need to read the document; simply search it visually for information that must be recorded in your record book by law. Your task is to recognize the document you’re notarizing for the signers by entering details into your notary record book.
The most important facts are:
- The date on which the document was notarized. It is, of course, the date on which the document is notarized. These details will be kept in the records as well as the notarial certificate.
- Date of the document. The document’s date may be the date on which the signer signed it (before appearing as a notary to acknowledge it). The document date may be at the top of the page and suggest a future or past date. It may also be at the bottom of the page, above the signatures.
- The document’s title (or description). If the paper doesn’t have a title, you’ll have to figure out what kind it is. Is it a permission slip, an affidavit, a bill of sale, a private arrangement, a contract, or a letter of intent, for example? Tell the signer you don’t want to pry, but you need the details.
- Parties’ names. Is there a list of other parties besides the signer? A bank, other signers, the principal in a power of attorney, or another person or organization, for example.
- There is a property or asset involved. Notaries in some states are required to gather information on the property involved in a transaction.
The total number of pages in the book.
Ascertain that the document is complete and that no pages are missing to the best of your ability.
This is the type of notarial act that is performed. The type of notarization to be performed will be stated on the certificate. Either an oath or an affirmation will be needed.
As you read through the text, jot down notes.
Examine the text for any gaps. Page through the book, but don’t read it word for word. “I need to make sure there are no blanks in the document and that it is full,” you might tell when doing so. If any blanks remain, ask the signer to fill them in before concluding the notarial act.
Complete the remaining steps of the notarization, and you’ll be known as a pro!