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Notary Public Services in California [Ultimate Guide]

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Every day, thousands of transactions that needs a notary public take place in California. Transactions between strangers are becoming more common these days, which is why most documents are notarized to build trust and legal backing during these transactions.

With very high lawyer fees, most California citizens need notaries that can be assigned to verify and witness signatures on their important documents.

This post is for you if you’ve ever wondered what notarization and public notaries do. Read on to find out all you need to know about notary public service in California.

What Is Notarization and Why Is It Important?

Notarization is the process of authenticating documents and confirming that they’re not defrauding and they’re mutually agreed upon. Also known as the notarial act, this process happens in three steps, and a notary public authorizes it. 

There are a lot of documents that require notarization, including vehicle title transfer, mortgage documents, and Power of Attorney. When documents are notarized, we know they’re genuine, legally sound, and jointly agreed upon. 

The notarization process involves the two parties coming before an approved independent notary public to have their identity confirmed, concede their documents, and ensure they’ve mutually agreed to the terms of the agreement. The notary public completes the process by sealing the records. This action notarizes the documents, which will now be considered authentic before the court of law.

Notarization is vital in that it confirms the signer’s identity is who they say they’re. Secondly, it ensures the signer has agreed to the terms of their will without being forced. Also, it makes the documents valid and can be trusted everywhere.

Types of Notarial Acts

There are about five types of notarial acts. However, the three most common ones are explained below:


An acknowledgment notarial act is a declaration that a signer understands the terms of a document and voluntarily signs it. The signer can sign an acknowledgment in the presence of a notary or before meeting the notary. A declaration can be signed on behalf of a person, on behalf of another person that’s the attorney of the signer, on behalf of a corporation that’s their representative, or a combination of these.

Acknowledgment notarial act is mainly done for mortgages, deeds, trusts, and other valuable assets.

Here’s how the Acknowledgement notarial act is carried out: 

  • The signer appears before an approved notary public, either in person or via video conferencing.

  • According to California State laws, the notary public will confirm the signer’s identity.

  • The signer can sign the document at the notary’s place or before meeting the notary.

  • The signer is required to orally acknowledge that they have agreed with the terms of this document and are signing it voluntarily.


Jurat notarial act compels the signer to affirm that the documents are authentic and genuine to the best of their knowledge. In some states, this is regarded as an affidavit and a verification upon oath and affirmation.

Unlike Acknowledgement, Jurat requires a signer to appear before the notary and sign the agreement during the notarization. Jurat involves an oath or verbal affirmation whereby the signer will confirm that the documents are nothing but true. Another individual cannot take the oath or promise on behalf of the signer.

During Jurat, signers are recommended to say nothing but the truth, as false information can lead to serious legal issues against the signer.

Here’s how a jurat notarial act is administered:

  • The signer appears before the notary, either in person or remotely online.

  • The notary confirms the identity of the signer.

  • The notary will administer a verbal oath or affirmation to which the sooner will orally respond. Gestures are not accepted.

Oaths or Affirmations

In this case, the signer solely needs the notary to administer an affirmation or oath orally rather than as a written document. The implication of the commitment and affirmation notarial act is to compel both parties to honest and trust.

However, there are some differences between oaths and affirmations. While oaths are pledges to God or a supreme being that all the terms are authentic, affirmations are pledges to individual personal honor.

Here’s how the Oaths and Affirmation notarial act is done:

  • The signer taking the oath or affirmation appears before the notary. Unlike other forms of a notarial deed, this can’t be done remotely online.

  • The individual will then raise their hand and hold their religious text to show the importance and significance of their statement. This isn’t a must by law. However, it encourages the oath taker to take the oath more seriously. The notary public will then administer California’s notary oath or affirmation.

  • The oath or affirmation taker will then clearly answer with ‘Yes’ or ‘I do to the hearing of the notary.

What Types of Documents Require Notarization?

Numerous documents require notarization. Primarily legal documents involving agreements between two. You would need to notarize your documents if you’re:

  • Writing your trust
  • Writing a will
  • Leasing commercial properties
  • Submitting articles of Incorporation
  • Submitting legal affidavits
  • Starting a new job
  • Naming a guardian
  • Appointing a Power of Attorney (POA)
  • Appointing an Executor
  • Applying for a passport 
  • Signing mortgage documents 

Other types of documents that need notarization include:

  • Letters of instruction
  • DMV documents
  • Travel affidavits
  • Resident witness
  • Medical directives
  • Gaming applications
  • Adoption papers
  • Construction permits
  • Resident witness
  • Vehicle title transfers
  • Nursing home and hospital forms
  • Jurats
  • Etc

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What do You Need to Know Before Bringing in Your Documents?

Before bringing in your documents for notarization, here are some things you need to know:

  • Call your notary public to ask whether you need a witness or not.

  • Bring a valid government-issued photo ID with your name, date of birth, serial number, and issuing authority. Acceptable IDs include passports, driver’s licenses, military IDs, and state ID cards.

  • Avoid signing your documents ahead of the notarization ceremony.

  • Ensure all your documents are complete and authentic, as notarizing false documents can lead to consequences.

What is the difference between a Notary Public and a Signing Agent?

Signing agents have certified notary publics that can assist a lender in guiding a borrower through their loan documents. They help answer home, vehicle, or business loan questions. On the other hand, the Notary public doesn’t have those certifications; therefore, they don’t have the expertise to assist lenders in borrowing.

The job of a notary public is to confirm the agreement between parties and witness the signature of legal documents. Loan Signing agents are familiar with how loan processes work and explain the contract to borrowers; they’re primarily found in the real estate, mortgage, and tax loan niche.

What a Notary Cannot Do

To stay safer, avoid activities you aren’t allowed to do as a notary in California. Here are some things that are notary can not do:

  • Carrying out activities related to the practice of law.

  • Overcharging for notary services. The 2022 notary service fee in California is $15, according to the national notary.

  • Choosing, drafting, or giving advice to parties on how to arrange legal documents.

  • Notarizing documents when the user is not around. California doesn’t allow a virtual notarization process.

  • Signing notarization certificate in a name other than their own.

  • Authorizing copies of documents that are recordable in the public recordsĀ 

It is recommended that you avoid any notary public using Notario Publico in their adverts. A California Notary performs different services from a Notario Publico, which means an attorney in Spanish countries. 

What You Should Look for When Choosing a Notary Public in California

There are thousands of California-approved notary public. Choosing the best one can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first time working with a notary public. Here are some things to look for when selecting Notary public in California:

  • Location: Choose a notary office close to your area to reduce travel costs. Working with a notary service located far from your proximity can be stressful as you must travel to and fro for follow-up meetings. You can search Google maps for the notary service closest to your location.

  • Qualification: Before choosing a notary service, ensure you check their qualifications to know whether they’ve specialty in your needs. Many notaries include their qualifications on their websites, business cards, and advert banners.

  • Charges: Check how much a notary public charges before agreeing to their service. All states have a cap on how much you are to pay for notary services. You can check the Secretary of  State’s Website to know the California notary service fee. However, you should know that this is just the cap, not the full-service cost.

  • Association Membership: Another thing to look for when hiring a notary service is their association membership. There are a lot of notary associations in California that require a notary to reach specific criteria before they can join them. It’s recommended you go for notaries that are active members of organizations.

  • Communication: How easily can you reach out to your notary public? That’s another thing you’ve to consider before choosing a notary. A notary that’s always a phone call should be your choice so that you can reach out to them when you’re stuck and need help on your notarized documents.

The Best California Notary Public Services

Certifix LiveScan is a professional Notary service provider in California. We’re the best at what we do and offer our services at a budget-friendly price. Highly trained notaries can answer questions and tell you what you need to bring. Give us a call and get your documents notarized right away!

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