Foreign Language Notary Guide
A foreign language notary guide is a tool to help notarize a document written in a foreign language, or for a signer who speaks a foreign language. If the notary does not speak the foreign language, this helps to bridge the language barrier. It is similar to a phrase book used by a tourist when traveling in a foreign country.
In Colorado, the notary may not use a human as a translator or interpreter. This is because the notary would not know if the translator is being honest. The notary must communicate directly with the signer.
Technology now provides some tools to assist with foreign language documents. Google Translate is free software that can translate a document in about 90 foreign languages. It is available at https://translate.google.com/ or can be downloaded as a phone application.
You can cut and paste text from a foreign language document, upload a document file, or enter a website address for translation. That may be useful to translate a foreign embassy website.
It helps the notary to use reasonable care to confirm the title and purpose of the document. The translated document is not notarized, so the translation does not need to be 100% accurate. The original document in the foreign language is notarized.
The notary certificate can be in a foreign language, if the notary speaks that language. If the document is going to a foreign country, and needs an apostille certificate attached by the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS), then the notary certificate must be in English.
Top 20 Foreign Languages
The top 20 most widely spoken languages in the United States, in 2011 and 2016 surveys, [Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Detailed Languages Spoken at Home by English-Speaking Ability for the Population 5 Years and Over] are:
1. English only, 232, 230 million
2. Spanish, 38, 40.5 million Spanish Language Notary Guide
3. Chinese, 2.9, 3.4 million Chinese Language Notary Guide
4. Tagalog, 1.6, 1.7 million (Filipino) Filipino Tagalog Language Notary Guide
5. Vietnamese, 1.4, 1.5 million Vietnamese Language Notary Guide
6. Arabic, 0.952, 1.2 million Arabic Language Notary Guide
7. French, 1.3, 1.2 million French Language Notary Guide
8. Korean, 1.14, 1.1 million Korean Language Notary Guide
9. Russian, 0.906, 0.91 million Russian Language Notary
10. German, 1.08, 0.91 million German Language Notary Guide
11. Haitian Creole 754, 860 thousand Haitian Creole Language Notary Guide
12. Hindi, 649, 810 thousand
13. Portuguese, 674, 770 thousand Portuguese Language Notary Guide
14. Italian, 724, 580 thousand Italian Language Notary Guide
15. Polish, 608, 540 thousand
16. Urdu, 374, 470 thousand
17. Japanese, 436, 460 thousand
18. Persian, 408, 440 thousand
19. Gujarati, 358, 410 thousand
20. Telugu, tbd, 370 thousand
21. Bengali, tbd, 320 thousand
23. Greek 305, 290 thousand
28. Hebrew 216, 230 thousand
32. Navajo 169, 160 thousand
If the signer does not speak good English, a foreign language notary guide that includes common notary questions and sentences may be a useful tool. Below are some suggestions. The notary may include others as needed for the situation, and then use Google Translate to generate a numbered list. The notary can then point to the line number to select a phrase or question. The signer could type an answer in Google Translate and then translate it into English.
Foreign Language Notary Guide
(copy and paste into Google Translate, translate into desired language)
1. Hello. My name is [John]. I am a Notary.
2. I do not speak your language.
3. What is your name?
4. Please print your [name] on this paper.
5. May I please see your identification?
6. What type of document is this?
7. Please print the document title on this paper.
8. Have you read this document?
9. Please fill in this blank space.
10. Do you understand the purpose of this document?
11. Are you signing this document voluntarily?
12. Do you acknowledge that this is your signature?
13. Do you swear or affirm that these statements are true and correct?
14. Please sign your name here.
15. My fee is [number] dollars.
18. I do not understand.
19. I do not know.
20. Please repeat.
21. Please speak slowly.
22. Thank you.
23. Nice to meet you.
24. Here is my business card.
25. Have a nice day.
26. Good bye.
27. Here is the name and phone number of a notary that speaks your language.
28. I am not a notario publico.
29. I am not an attorney.
30. I do not give legal advice.
31. I am not a civil law notary.
The notary should write the title and description of the document in the notary journal. For example, a Power of Attorney in Spanish is called a Carta de Poder. The number of pages should be shown. Ask the signer to fill in any blank spaces before notarizing.
It is best to use the date format: July 4, 2015, rather than 7/4/15 (mm-dd-yy). In many foreign countries, the date is in dd-mm-yy format, so 7/4/15 would be 7 Apr 2015.
A foreign language notary guide can be a useful tool for a notary to accommodate a foreign language speaker.
Disclaimer: This information is not legal advice. For legal advice, contact a licensed, competent attorney.