Frequently-Asked Questions

with answers by Ernest Adams, Mobile Notary Public

This information is provided as a public service. Please see the Disclaimers before relying on this information. You must not consider anything on this website to be legal advice.

All of the answers on this Page apply to Ernest Adams, a Connecticut Notary Public; some may apply to other Notaries Public in other states as well. If you are outside of Connecticut, please consult a Notary Public or attorney in your state.

Connecticut Notaries Public notarize signatures, not documents. For these questions and answers, "signer" means the person who is going to have their signature notarized. If you are the person whose signature will be notarized, "you" and "signer" mean the same person.

Questions are divided into categories to help you find what you're looking for easily. Categories are about the signer (identification (brief), minimum age, location, competence), about the Connecticut Notary Public (Mobile Notary Public, Mobile Notary Public fees (brief), Notary Signing Agent).

Other questions include forms of identification (full discussion), Connecticut Notary Public fees (full description), oaths and acknowledgments, Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney, Notarial Certificate (Notarial Block), copy certification, can an attorney notarize?, does a Notary Public make sure a document is true?, where is your office?, what's your email address?, Notario Publico, becoming a Connecticut Notary Public.

About the signer

What identification is needed?

"What identification is needed for a Notary Public to notarize a signature?"

Two forms of ID are required, unless I know the signer personally. Please note that they must be current, not expired. Only original documents, not photocopies or scanned images, are acceptable in Connecticut.

Primary ID must be photo identification issued by a federal or state government. Commonly-used primary ID include a driver's license, passport, "green card", state-issued non-driver's ID, pistol permit, and military ID. Photo ID must also contain a written signature. Passports from other countries are acceptable ID in Connecticut.

Secondary ID must contain a written signature, but does not need a photo. Examples of commonly-used secondary ID include signed credit cards or debit cards and work IDs. (I do not want to know any credit card or debit card numbers!)

There are more detailed answers under What kind of identification do I need? on this Page.

If you have questions, please call me at 860-543-2334.

"My grandmother is in the hospital and has no identification. Can you notarize a Living Will for her?"

Yes I can, if you and I can find somebody who knows both your grandmother and me personally and is willing to swear that her name is the same as that on the Living Will.

The key to notarizing a document for someone without the kinds of identification listed is "... an individual who is 'personally known' to the Notary. Like all witnesses, the credible-witness should be honest, competent and ideally, without interest in the transaction." (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.5, "Credible Witness Acknowledgement")

What is the minimum age to have a signature notarized?

"How old does somebody have to be to get their signature notarized?"

18 years old or older. Usually the difficulties for anyone under 18 are getting legally-acceptable ID and being legally responsible under Connecticut law.

Please contact an attorney to have the signature of anyone under age 18 notarized.

Location

"Where will you go notarize? Will you go to the hospital to notarize a Power of Attorney?"

I will go anywhere in Connecticut that is safe and is convenient for the signer. I meet people in their offices, homes, coffee shops, or other convenient places. Connecticut Notaries Public are authorized to notarize anywhere in Connecticut. The fees for travel set by the State of Connecticut are listed on this Page.

If you think it would be too expensive for me to travel to where the signer is, I will help you find a Notary Public who is closer. Please call me at 860-543-2334.

"I'm working temporarily in Connecticut, I live in Massachusetts, and I've got vacation property in Wyoming. If you notarize my form in Connecticut, will your notarization be valid in my home state and in the state where my property is?"

Yes! The notarization will be honored throughout the United States. Any Notary Public in the United States can notarize the signature(s) on a document with a Notarial Certificate. The notarization will be honored throughout the United States.

Most countries also accept most other country's notarizations. When in doubt, check with the government where you expect your document to be used.

"I live in Rhode Island and work in Connecticut. Can you notarize for me?"

Yes! As long as we meet in Connecticut, I can notarize your signature on your document. I cannot notarize any document when I am physically outside the borders of Connecticut.

If you need help finding a Notary Public near you, I will do my best to help you find a local Notary. Please call me at 860-543-2334.

Mental competence

"Does the signer have to be wide awake and alert?"

Yes. Every signer must be free from the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs can impair people's ability to think clearly or express themselves well. Please schedule your Notary Public appointment accordingly.

People in hospitals or convalescent hospitals sometimes are not oriented in time and place (they don't know what year it is or where they are), do not understand the consequences of signing, or are otherwise confused. I am neither a medical professional nor a mental health expert. I must rely on my layman's common sense when determining whether a person appears competent and understands the consequences of signing. The signer and I will have a brief chat and I will decide based on that conversation whether I believe the potential signer's signature can be notarized at that time.

There is absolutely no appeal if I believe, in my layman's opinion, that a potential signer is not mentally competent. I may, however, give suggestions about how the situation might be resolved.

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About the Notary Public

All of the following answers apply to Ernest Adams.

"What is a Notary Public?"

"The Notary Public is a public official appointed by the Secretary of the State through the power vested in the Secretary by state law. The Notary has the power to administer oaths, take acknowledgments and perform other duties as permitted by law.

[...] A Notary Public does not have the training or authority to prepare legal documents or recommend a course of action in legal transactions. Any person who is in need of such assistance should be advised to consult an attorney." (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 1.1)

"What is a Mobile Notary Public?"

A Mobile Notary Public is a commissioned Notary Public who travels to people who need signatures notarized, rather than the people having to travel to a Notary.

A Mobile Notary Public is sometimes called a Traveling Notary Public.

"Using a Mobile Notary Public sounds expensive. Is it?"

Connecticut state law sets the fees that Notaries Public may charge. The quick answer is $5.00 per notarization plus travel expenses; there is a full discussion of Connecticut Notary Public fees on this Page.

"The Notary Public at my bank will notarize documents for free. Why should I pay you?"

If you can take the time to travel to your bank during banker's hours and have your signature notarized there, then please do!. I encourage people to save money where they can do so without inconvenience or sacrificing quality.

If you prefer to have your notarizations done when and where it is convenient for you, then please give me a call at 860-543-2334.

"I have seen 'Notary Publics' and 'Notaries Public' both as the plural of Notary Public. Which is correct?"

"Notaries Public" is correct. "Notary Public" is one of the terms in which the adjective follows the noun, therefore the plural goes with the noun, not the adjective. Think of it as being similar to Attorneys General and mothers-in-law.

"I have heard people say 'Notary Republic'. Is that wrong?"

Yes. In the United States, only "Notary Public" (or "Notaries Public") is correct.

Despite being able to find the term "Notary Republic" on the Web, and it having been used by people who should know better, only "Notary Public" should be used.

"Notary Republic" is based on mishearing "Notary Public", or thinking about "... for the Republic for which it stands ..." in the familiar Pledge.

Connecticut Notary Public fees

"How much do you charge as a Connecticut Notary Public?"

Connecticut state law sets the fees that Notaries Public may charge for notarizations: "The fee for any act performed by a Notary Public, in accordance with the provisions of the general statutes, is five dollars ($5.00) plus an additional thirty-five cents ($0.35) for each mile traveled." (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 8.0)

Please note that the thirty-five-cents-per-mile rate was established long ago, a long time before gasoline was above $2.00 per gallon. These days you can expect to pay a gas surcharge so that your cost per mile is approximately equal to the current Internal Revenue Service's stated costs for operating a car. Other fees may be charged for photocopying, courier service, late-night appointments, et cetera. Most people do not need additional services, so they pay only the statutory fees. When in doubt, please call 860-543-2334.

"What is a Notary Signing Agent?"

A Notary Signing Agent is a commissioned Notary Public who has had special training in the handling of loan documents (mortgages, refinances, reverse mortgages, et cetera). A Notary Signing Agent is almost always a Mobile Notary Public.

Having performed more than 2,500 flawless loan signings, you can be sure I'll do a good job.

"What is a Certified Notary Signing Agent?"

A Certified Notary Signing Agent is supposed to have had training and real experience in loan closings.

There is no government agency which certifies Notary Signing Agents. Several private organizations, including the National Notary Association, sell certification based on tests they have devised. Such "certification" is worth only the reputation of the certifying organization. Some certifications are worthless, and mean only that the "certified" Notary Public has paid a fee. (No names will ever be given due to the laws of slander and libel!)

"Are you a Certified Notary Signing Agent?"

Yes, I was certified by the National Notary Association.

The National Notary Association's Certification Test does have some value. Not everyone who takes the test passes. It is not a take-it-until-you-pass test, as some others are. It does require real-world experience with loan closings changes in order to pass. Also, one must re-certify periodically to ensure that the NSA is staying up to date with changes in loan documents.

"Will you charge more because you are a Certified Notary Signing Agent?"

No! I took the certification examination more out of curiosity than anything else. I found it interesting to test my knowledge of loan documents and signing procedures. My fees did not change, nor will they.

"Are you compliant with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act?"

Yes! I have passed the background screening through the National Notary Association.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act deals with maintaining the privacy of financial and other private information of consumers. Information about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act can be found at the Federal Trade Commission website or by using Google or other search engines.

"What is a Notary Signing Service?"

"Notary Signing Service" is sometimes used as another term for a Notary Signing Agent.

"Notary Signing Service" may mean what Notary Signing Agents call a signing service, a firm that charges an additional fees to find Notary Signing Agents to perform loan signings for title companies or lenders.

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Other questions for a Connecticut Notary Public

Acceptable forms of identification

"What kind of identification do I need?"

You will need two pieces of ID, unless I know you personally. Please note that they must be current, that is, not expired. Only original documents, not photocopies, are acceptable in Connecticut.

Your primary ID must have been issued by a federal government or a state government. It must have your photograph (or physical description) and your signature on it. The most common examples are passports (issued by the United States or other countries), drivers' licenses (and state-issued non-drivers' IDs), and pistol permits. Military IDs, both active-duty and retired, are also very much acceptable as primary identification. A "Green Card" is also acceptable.

Your secondary ID does not need to have a photo on it but it must contain your signature; typically used are work IDs and signed credit cards or debit cards. ("See ID" is not your name, so it can't possibly be your signature. You are required to sign your credit card or debit card for your own protection.)

Social Security Cards and Birth Certificates are specifically excluded from use as IDs by the Connecticut Notary Handbook. (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.4, "Determining Identity")

The Municipal Identification Card being issued by New Haven, CT cannot be accepted as primary identification. The card (or a similar card issued by another municipality) is neither federal nor state identification, as required by the Connecticut Notary Handbook. If the Connecticut Secretary of State issues a directive stating that the New Haven card is to be accepted, or a future edition of the Connecticut Notary Handbook allows the use of such a card, then I will accept it. You may expect to see that change noted here, if it happens.

The identification you present must match the name on the document(s) to be notarized. Your ID may contain more name information than your document, but not less. For example, if your driver's license says "Mary Elizabeth Smith" and the Power of Attorney says "Mary E. Smith", I will be happy to notarize your signature. If, on the other hand, your Pistol Permit says "John M. Jones" and the affidavit you want notarized says "John Morgan Jones" I would not be allowed to notarize your signature unless you could provide additional identification that says you are John Morgan Jones.

For people who have changed their names through marriage, divorce, et cetera, you must have identification matching the document(s) to be notarized. A Connecticut Notary Public cannot accept a marriage license plus identification with your previous name. If I officiated at your wedding I will consider it an honor to notarize your signature without further identification!

If you have any questions about acceptable identification that are not answered on this Page please call me at 860-543-2334.

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Oaths and acknowledgments

"What is the Connecticut oath?"

The oath used by Connecticut Notaries Public is "Do you solemnly swear that the statements contained herein are true to the best of your knowledge and belief, so help you God?". The signer should answer "I do." (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.8, "Oaths and Affirmations")

If the signer is not comfortable with the wording of the traditional oath, an alternative (Solemn Affirmation) can be used. For example, "Do you solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that the statements contained herein are true to the best of your knowledge and belief, upon pains and penalties of perjury or false statement?" The signer should answer "I do."

If the Notarial Certificate requires an oath, then an oath or affirmation must be used. I will not notarize the signature(s) on such a document without the signer(s) having taken an oath or having made a solemn affirmation. There are no exceptions.

Notarial Certificate – Notarial Block

"What is a Notarial Certificate?"

The Notarial Certificate (sometimes called the "Notarial Block") is almost always pre-printed on the document to be notarized. Notarial Certificates in Connecticut fall into two categories: An Acknowledgement and a Jurat.

An Acknowledgement means that the signer has personally appeared before the Notary, signed in the presence of the Notary, and stated that the act of signing was done of his or her own free will. (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.2, "Acknowledgements") There is no oath or affirmation administered for an Acknowledgement. The focus of an Acknowledgement is that the signature is genuine and the document was signed voluntarily.

If the signer accidentally signed the document before meeting with the Notary, it is possible that the signature on an Acknowledgement may still be notarized. Please do not sign your document until we meet in person.

A Jurat means that the signer has personally taken an oath (or affirmation) administered by the Notary Public and has signed the document in the Notary's presence. (Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.9, "Affidavits") The focus of a Jurat is that the signature is genuine and that the signer has sworn that the statements in the document are true.

The signature on a Jurat cannot be notarized unless it was signed in the Notary's presence.

"My document doesn't look like it has a Notarial Certificate. Which one should I use?"

The Notary Public must not tell you which form of Notarial Certificate should be used. Doing so would constitute Unauthorized Practice of Law (please see the Disclaimer).

The most any Notary Public who is not also an attorney can do is point out the difference between an Acknowledgement and a Jurat and ask you to decide which one you want to use. If you cannot decide, then you should contact an attorney who is authorized to practice law in Connecticut.

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Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney

"Will you notarize my Will?"

I will notarize a Will that has been prepared by an attorney or one generated by a so-called "Will Kit", as long as the form has not been filled out by hand. I cannot, must not, and will not give any advice about filling out forms. Having an attorney draw up your Will is insurance that your desires will be followed.

In Connecticut a Will requires that two people witness the Will being signed by the principal (the person whose Will it is). I will not be one of the witnesses. The witnesses must be physically present when the Will is signed.

"Can you notarize a Living Will?"

Yes, I will notarize the signature on a Living Will. Living Wills are sometimes called "Advance Directives". You can find forms on the Connecticut Attorney General's Office website. (Because the State of Connecticut reorganizes their website addresses on what seems like a random basis, you may have to do an Internet search for "CT Advance Directives form" or talk to a Social Worker.

Depending on the forms that you use, you may have to have two witnesses in addition to your Notary Public.

Please have the Living Will filled out but not signed before I arrive. I will not be part of the "Should I do this?" discussion.

"The Town Hall will not notarize a Power of Attorney. Will you?"

Yes, I will notarize a Power of Attorney. I enforce all the rules of identification, mental competence, witness requirements very strictly. Two witnesses in addition to me are required by Connecticut law. Please visit my Power of Attorney Page for specific information.

It has been said "In the wrong hands, a Power of Attorney is a license to steal." I am careful with each notarization that I do, and I am especially cautious with Powers of Attorney.

"Are there documents that you won't notarize?"

Yes, there are a few documents on which I will not notarize the signature(s). In general, I do not notarize signatures on documents written in a language other than English because I do not read other languages well enough to understand them fully. There may be exceptions.

The Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.19, specifically warns against notarizing hand-written Wills, so I will not notarize a hand-written Will. (You may hear a hand-written Will called by the term "Holographic Will").

I will notarize the signature on a Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney, Deed (or other real estate document), medical document, or any other document presented to me by any person who has valid identification, understands what they are signing, appears competent, and pays the prescribed fees.

The only times that I have refused to notarize a signature have been when the (potential) signer has appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, has been unable to answer basic questions about the document (e.g., "What does this paper mean?", "What does Power of Attorney mean to you?"), or could not prove their identity.

I am neither a medical professional nor a mental health expert. I must rely on my layman's common sense when determining whether a person appears competent.

"Can an attorney notarize in Connecticut? Can an attorney sign as a Notary Public in Connecticut?"

Yes, by virtue of being an officer of the Superior Court, any lawyer who has been admitted to the Connecticut Bar can notarize signatures in Connecticut.

Be sure to check in advance that the attorney is willing to notarize and the ask the what the attorney's fee will be.

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Copy Certification

"Can you certify that a copy is a "True and Correct Copy"?"

Yes, as long as the original document is not considered a Vital Record.

Vital Records include birth certificates, death certificates, or marriage certificates. In Connecticut only the Registrar of Vital Statistics in the town or city where the document is recorded can issue certified copies of those documents. In most of Connecticut's 169 municipalities the Registrar of Vital Statistics is the same person as the Town Clerk or City Clerk.

"Does the Notary's seal on an Affidavit (or other document) mean that it is true?"

No. The Notary Public first identifies the document signer(s), looks over the document quickly to be sure there are no blank spaces, administers an oath, watches the signer(s) sign, and fills out the Notarial Certificate. Most of the time the Notary does not read the document, but merely scans it to be sure there are no blanks.

The signer has sworn that the statements are true, but that does not mean that the Notary is responsible for the statements actually being true. Even so, a Notary Public will refuse to notarize the signature on a document that the Notary knows contains a false statement. The penalties for perjury apply to anyone who swears to a false statement. If you receive a notarized document then you can be sure that the person whose name is listed as the signer actually did sign the document.

Having a document notarized does not make it true or "legal".

"I got my GED in Connecticut and I have moved to Pennsylvania. I need a certified copy of my GED Diploma, but the Pennsylvania Notary says that Notaries in Pennsylvania can't certify copies. Where can I meet you to get you to certify the copy?"

You don't need to come to Connecticut! A Notary Public in Pennsylvania (or anywhere in the United States) can help you. I'll describe the procedure here, and if your chosen local Notary Public has questions have that Notary call me.

You or your local Notary can print a document that says, essentially, "I, " [your name] ", of legal age, first being duly sworn, swear that the attached reproduction of " [describe the document] " is a true and exact copy of the original document. In witness whereof, I have hereunto signed my name." (Do not use the quotation marks or [ ]!)

Have your Notary Public give you that state's oath, then add the correct wording for a Jurat in the state where the notarization is taking place. You, as the person who made the copy, are swearing an oath that the copy is accurate. Your Notary is simply notarizing your signature.

The above instructions are paraphrased from an earlier edition of the Connecticut Notary Public Manual, Section 4.11, "Copy Certification". Please note that this procedure is not to be used with documents that are considered public records, such as birth, death, or marriage certificates. If your local Notaries Public still refuse to cooperate, please consult an attorney licensed to practice law in the state where you are having difficulty or the state in which the document was issued.

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Where is your office?

"Why don't you have an office address listed?"

For your convenience I travel to you!. There is no office address listed because I do not have an office. My family prefers that I do not see clients in our home. Please see "Where can we meet?".

"I am from out of state. If you don't have an office, how can you help me? Where can we meet?"

We can meet at a library, mall, coffee shop, or other public place.

In general, meeting at a restaurant is not a good idea; servers (reasonably!) expect people to order food and/or beverages, which could spill on documents.

If you would like to meet elsewhere, that can probably be arranged, too.

"I live in Middletown in Middlesex County and your website says that you live in New London County. Can you help me?"

Yes! Connecticut Notaries Public are authorized to perform Notarial acts anywhere in Connecticut.

I'd be happy to meet you in Middletown.

What's your email address?

"You don't have an email address listed on your website. Why not?"

The three reasons for not showing my email address are: 1, I receive too much spam and might miss your message; 2, I am frequently traveling between appointments and I might not be able to respond quickly enough, leading you to believe that I did not care about your needs; 3, people have sent email messages (sometimes attaching legal documents!) asking for legal advice, which by law I cannot and will not give.

You are always welcome to call me at 860-543-2334 to discuss your needs and how I can help.

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"Can a Connecticut Notary Public marry people?"

Because I have additional credentials, I am legally-authorized to marry people! It is an honor and a privilege.

Other Connecticut Notaries are not empowered to marry people just because they are Notaries. They would need additional authorization.

Notario Publico

"Is a "Notary Public" the same thing as a "Notario Publico"?"

No! "Notario Publico" is a Spanish term for an special attorney who is similar to a government official. A Mexican Notario Publico has far more responsibility and authority than a Connecticut Notary Public! A Notario Publico is a very powerful person who can give legal advice, intervene in court proceedings, and ensure that a document conforms to the law. For a Connecticut Notary Public to take similar actions would be thoroughly illegal!

¡Yo no soy Notario Publico!

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Becoming a Connecticut Notary Public

"How can I become a Notary Public in Connecticut?"

Almost anyone can become a Connecticut Notary Public. Here are the steps.

First, you must be eighteen years old or older and a Connecticut resident. People eighteen or over who live outside Connecticut and have a principal place of business in Connecticut may also apply to be a Connecticut Notary.

Second, as part of your application you must take the written test, writing your answers in your own handwriting. You must get 100% of your answers correct. All of the answers to the Notary Public Exam questions are found in the Notary Public Handbook. No Notary Public who takes the office seriously will give you the Notary Public exam answers. Your signature on your application must be notarized; you will pay the statutory fee of $5.00 (plus travel) for that notarization.

Third, you should be aware that the non-refundable fee to apply to become a Connecticut Notary Public is $120.00. If you pass the written test, you will have to pay $10.00 to your Town or City Clerk when you take your oath of office. Connecticut Notaries Public are permitted to charge only $5.00 per notarization. In order to recoup your initial $135.00 investment, you will have to perform 27 notarizations just to break even. If you choose to get a journal of Notarial acts, a stamp, and an embossing seal, as I have, you must add those costs to your expense of becoming a Notary Public.

Fourth, a Connecticut Notary Public "... is disqualified from performing a Notarial act if the Notary is a signatory of the document to be notarized." (That means that you cannot notarize your own signature, even if someone else is also signing the document.) Connecticut Notaries Public are expected to disqualify themselves "... where the Notary has some beneficial interest, or which involve family members." In simple terms, the prudent Notary Public will not notarize for relatives. No sensible Notary would ever notarize a contract from which the Notary or a family member would benefit.

The Connecticut Notary Public Manual is revised without notice to the public or to current Notaries Public. If you would like to become a Connecticut Notary Public, you may download the Connecticut Notary Public Manual in PDF format at www.ct.gov/sots/LIB/sots/LegislativeServices/forms/NotaryManual.pdf. All of the material that you will need to pass the test is in the Manual. If you decide to apply, I will gladly notarize your signature on your application.

Please confirm all of the fees with the Notary Public Division of the Secretary of State's Office before you submit an application.

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Disclaimers

I am not an attorney. ¡Yo no soy Notario Publico! I cannot give legal advice.

If you need legal help, please consult an attorney authorized to practice law in Connecticut (or the state in which you live). All opinions expressed on this Site are that of a layman, except where cited sources are clearly noted.

The only language I speak, read, and write is English. ¡No habla Español!

I can notarize the signature on a document only if the signer and I can communicate in English, either verbally or in writing. We cannot use a translator.

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Version 6.00   17 April 2016