Colorado notary law CRS 12-55-112(2) requires that a notary shall “clearly and legibly” stamp the notary seal, under or near the official notary signature. What if the notary stamp is not clear and legible on the document?
Reasons for Illegible Notary Stamp
Colorado notary law does not specify the procedure for adding a clear and legible second stamp if the first stamp is illegible. Problems may occur if the stamp smears due to movement, has unreadable portions caused by not stamping on a hard, flat surface, has missing or faint portions due to ink drying out, or a stamp malfunction due to a mechanical problem.
Water Based Ink vs Solvent Ink
Most self-inking stamps use water-based ink. If the document is damp, or rain or water gets on the document, the ink may run and become blurry. Also, water-based ink will smear if used on a plastic or Mylar document with a smooth surface. For stamping on a smooth, non-porous surface, special industrial ink must be used. One popular brand name, available at a hobby store or Walmart, is StazOn solvent ink.
Model Notary Act Correction Procedure
The 2010 Model Notary Act, published by the National Notary Association (NNA) describes a procedure for correcting an illegible stamp impression. Section 8-3(b) states: Illegible information within a seal impression may be typed or printed legibly by the notary adjacent to, but not within, the impression, or
another impression may be legibly affixed nearby.
The Model Notary Act authorizes notaries to remedy unreadable portions of the stamp by typing or printing the needed wording legibly, adjacent to the seal image. To avoid charges that the stamp impression was tampered with, notaries must not write over any portion of the stamp nor make any marks within the area circumscribed by the stamp border.
Notary Regulator FAQ Correction Procedure
Several states, including Massachusetts and Minnesota, include a correction procedure in the FAQ section of the notary regulator website.
If there is room, affix a second stamp impression nearby. It is not necessary to cross out the original stamp impression or write an explanation on the document. The reason for the second stamp will be obvious. If there is no room for a second stamp, attach a separate notary certificate with the same wording, signature and a clear and legible stamp. Line through the original notarial wording and draw a line specifically through your seal and signature. Near the old certificate wording, write “See Attached Certificate”.
Use a Small Size Notary Stamp
Colorado law does not specify the size or ink color for the notary stamp. It must be rectangular.
Using a small size notary stamp will allow more room to stamp the document a second time, if needed. A large size notary stamp may use up all available space so there is no room to stamp a second time.
Stamping Skill Improves With Practice
With practice, a notary should be able to make a clear stamp impression on a regular basis. It may be helpful to make a test stamp on a blank piece of paper before stamping the signed document. A clipboard is useful to provide a flat surface for signing and stamping. The rubber stamp may need occasional cleaning to remove ink residue. When a stamp impression is illegible, be prepared to make a correction.