A notarial certificate must be attached to a notarized document, not an unattached loose certificate. This means that the document must include an acknowledgment, or a jurat (oath or affirmation), or a copy certification before it is notarized.
The document preparer should include the correct type of notarial certificate, to match the intended purpose of the document.
Documents that need the permission, approval, agreement or consent of the signer typically have an acknowledgment attached. Documents that need the signer to make a sworn statement typically have an oath or affirmation attached. A certified copy must include a copy certification.
Security for Loose Certificate
For best security, the certificate should be included in the document. If it is missing, the notary can print, type, or stamp the required wording for the certificate, or securely attach a loose certificate to the document by using a staple, not a paper clip, pressed through all pages of the document.
The certificate should include the state and county (venue), the date and type of notarial act, the name(s) of the signer(s), and the official signature, title, commission expiration date, and stamp of the notary. When a loose certificate is attached, it is a best practice for security to include a description and page count of the attached document, so that the certificate cannot be removed and attached to another document to commit fraud.
The notary should review the certificate to make sure that it is complete and correct.
There are several reasons why a loose certificate may be needed. The included certificate on the document may use wording that is not valid, or that is valid in one state but not another state. The notary should make sure the wording complies with state law.
The notarial certificate may be missing from the document. The most common reason for a missing certificate is because the signer has written the document, such as a letter, rather than an attorney or professional document preparer.
The document may be in a foreign language. The document does not have to be in English. As long as the notary can communicate directly with the signer, in English or another language, the document may be notarized. A loose certificate may be attached. The certificate may be in English or in a foreign language that the notary understands. If the document is going to a foreign country and needs an apostille attached by the Colorado Secretary of State, the loose certificate must be in English.
If a loose certificate is attached, and a notary certificate on the document is not used, the notary should line through or cross out the preprinted certificate and write or type “see attached certificate.”
A loose certificate may also be used when there is not enough room for a certificate or notary stamp at the end of a document, or when the provided certificate has already been used for one signer, but an additional certificate is needed for another signer.
Sometimes a document, such as a contract or a lease, is originally signed without being notarized. A loose certificate of acknowledgment may be attached at a later date if the signer meets with a notary.
A notary should not provide a notarized loose certificate that is not attached to a document or does not include the document description. A notarized loose certificate without a document description included could be attached to another document to commit fraud.
Colorado Notary Training teaches the required elements to help the notary avoid errors and omissions and provide good customer service to the public.
[Last-Modified Date 2017-03-26] add review schema, add page links, add image