Notary Series Part 2: A General Guide on What You Can and Cannot Do as a California Notary Public

A Series Based Upon Everything You Need to Know About the Notary Commission Process Written By Jessica Melton

Now that you have received your notary commission and stamp, it is time to start notarizing!  To help you stay on track and avoid penalties, here are some suggestions of things that you can and cannot do as a California Notary Public.

You Can:

  • Notarize documents that are complete in nature with no missing parts as well as documents that are in another language (so long as the notarial certificate is in English);
  • Charge a reasonable travel fee for mobile notaries. The fees can vary depending on the time of day that the notary will take place and the length of travel to get there;
  • Turn away a potential client if they cannot pay the standard notary fee or contact you after your advertised hours of operation is over;
  • Notarize documents for people who cannot provide their signature (this process is called a Signature by Mark);
  • Correct a mistake by doing the notarization again with a new notarial certificate (hey, everyone makes mistakes!);
  • Notarize documents for family members (though this is an act not recommended, it is not illegal).

You Cannot:

  • Give out legal advice or advise a client as to which notarial certificate they will need for a notarial act.
  • Advertise as Notario Publico in Spanish. (This term can mean that you are a lawyer in various parts of the world);
  • Notarize incomplete documents or documents with missing parts. (Your job is not to analyze the documents.  You are only there to make sure that the document is complete with no blank spaces);
  • Notarize any documents that will benefit you in any way either directly or indirectly. (Conflict of interest);
  • Advertise for your services in any other language than English or give immigration advice if you are a non-lawyer;
  • Charge above the standard rate per signature or per document.

Though this list is only a general list of California Notary Public do’s and don’ts, you can find a more complete guide by clicking here.

If you missed the first post in this series, click here to review.

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