Documents are notarized to prevent fraud and protect the parties to ensure that the signing party signature is authenticated. A notary public acts as an impartial witness to identify the signers to screen out impostors while making sure documents are willingly signed and that the signing party has the mental capacity to sign such.

Some documents require that they be signed in the presence of a notary public while others do not have to be signed in a notary’s presence. There are certain documents that cannot be notarized by a notary public. Below is a list of documents that cannot be witnessed or notarized by a notary public.

Birth Certificates – Usually what a person requires is a certified copy of the birth record, which can usually be obtained from the State Bureau of Vital Statistics. Notarizing a birth document or copy thereof is prohibited.

Photographs – Notarizing photographs is not an authorized notarial act in the United States. You may notarize a written statement concerning a photograph with the photograph as an attachment. In this way you are notarizing a sworn written statement concerning the photograph and not the photograph.

The name on the document does not match the name on the ID presented to you – You should not notarize such document. You must full satisfy yourself of the identity of the person appearing before you before notarizing any document.

Blank or incomplete documents – Documents should not be notarized unless they are complete and have no blank spaces. It is just that simple! It will be very easy to alter a document with blanks or that is incomplete after it has been notarized. You’re flirting with trouble here.

Faxed or copied signatures – A photocopy or faxed document may be notarized as long as it bears an original signature, meaning the copy must have been signed with pen and ink. A photocopied signature may never be notarized.

Wills – Wills are particular sensitive documents that can provide problems for a notary. Some handwritten (holographic) wills maybe invalidated by having them notarized. It is best practices to only notarize a will only after the signer has contacted their attorney who has provided the notarial wording to be used and have instructed the signer to have the document notarized.

Documents that the notary is a party to – A notary may never notarize any document if the notary public has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying document. This also applies to any document that witnesses the notary’s own signature. Completely taboo!

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