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The internet is a powerful place as it can open up the world to you with just one search. Searching the internet for more sensitive things, however, requires you to scrutinize the results that pop up. When it comes to finding a notary online, you’ll need to make sure you know exactly why you need one and how notary certification works.

Being a notary might seem like a simple job, but it is an extremely important one. Their certification of signed documents is what gets you that house, loan, or business deal. Huge financial decisions and partnerships that require a contract rarely go without a notary’s attention.

You need to take their role seriously. When searching for a notary online, you better be sure it is the right one. In this guide, you’ll learn the 7 steps you need to take to choose the right notary online.

1. What Notarial Certificate Do You Need?

Before you can start looking for a notary, you’ll need to know exactly what transaction you’re making. Different types of contracts or documents require or specific notary certificates.

If you thought you could just call and ask a notary for their recommendation, you’re out of luck. It is illegal for notaries to give any kind of legal advice, including recommending their own services to you. You’ll need to speak with an attorney if you’d like advice about which type of notary certificate is best for your situation.

TYPES OF NOTARY CERTIFICATES:

So what types of notary certificates are there? There are four major types of notary services that you can choose from:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Jurats
  • Oaths and affirmations
  • Copy certifications

Acknowledgments notarization is when a notary can certify that you have willingly signed the document. This form of notarization is probably the most common, as most people look for notaries to ensure both parties are willingly signing a contract. 

Jurats notarization is when a notary can confirm you have sworn that the contents of the document are true. To understand this, you can compare it to court proceedings where witnesses swear that they will tell the truth before giving testimony.

Similar to jurats, oaths and affirmations require a notary to deliver a service and attest to the honesty of the statement. The difference is that jurats are written statements, while oaths and affirmations are verbal statements. An oath is a swear to God or higher power while an affirmation is a pledge on personal honor of the person swearing.

Copy certifications ensure that you can have valid copies of original documents. Having a certified copy ensures that your copy is an exact match of the original. This service is most popular at clerk’s offices, where you can request certified copies of your birth and marriage certificates.

WHICH NOTARY CERTIFICATE SHOULD I CHOOSE?

If a certain agency is requiring you to get a notary certificate, you can ask them for what type of notary certificate they require. Or, you can speak to a lawyer for legal advice about which notary certificate to choose. In general, though, there are standard practices that require notary certificates for specific situations.

If you are signing contracts to buy or sell a home, you will most likely need an acknowledgments notary service. The notary must affirm that both the buyers and sellers are willingly going through with the sale and agree to all the terms.

Jurats are typically required for affidavits. If you need a written statement as evidence in court, a notary public can perform a jurat service to make sure that evidence is upheld. They will affirm that the person has sworn under penalty of perjury that what they have stated is true.

Finally, certified copies are usually requested often during life milestones. For example, if you are changing your name after marriage, you’ll often need certified copies of your birth certificate and marriage certificate to prove your identity with your maiden and married last names. Unfortunately, you cannot get certified copies of vital documents or public records from notary publics.

There may be instances where you need proof that photocopies of other documents are valid. If you need a notarized photocopy of a document, proven to be identical to the original, some states like Idaho allow this. However, it is important to check that the agency requesting copies accepts these “attested copies” as valid.

2. Decide In-Person or Online Notary Service

Thanks to modern technology, we now can not only get notary services in person but online, too. Getting online notarization is becoming much more popular as it is quick and convenient. However, you’ll need to make sure that online notarization is considered valid by the agency that is requesting these services.

Notary publics are certified by the state. They know the state laws and must practice in the state they were trained and certified in. This can make searching online for notary publics a bit more tricky.

If you are choosing an online notary service, make sure it has the option to select your location. If you are searching for a notary online for an in-person appointment, make sure you are getting results for your state.

IN-PERSON NOTARY PUBLIC

The most traditional way to get a notary service is to find a notary public that will meet in person. Thankfully, you can still research online for notary publics like this, they’ll just need to perform the actual service in person

Once you find the right notary public, you can schedule an appointment for a meeting. Depending on the person you find, you might have to go to their office. If they have the means, they may be able to come to you instead.

To be ready for this meeting, you’ll need to have your ID to verify your identity for proper notarization. You’ll also need to bring the requested documents. In just a few minutes, you’ll be signing the document and getting the notary’s signature and seal.

The key difference will be that having documents notarized in person will allow you to receive an official notary stamp on the document. 

ONLINE NOTARY SERVICE

An online notary service differs greatly from an in-person notary public for many reasons. Not only will you be searching online for a notary public, but conducting the entire notarization over the internet. This type of notary service might not always be accepted by certain agencies, so it’s important to double-check.

Online notary services, however, are extremely convenient. Once you find a good service, you can create an account and upload the documents you need notarized. Once you’re ready, you can join a live video call with a notary public who will conduct the necessary actions that they would in person. 

An online notary service will allow you to sign the document while on the video call so that the notary public can witness. Then, they’ll give you an electronic form of notary signature and seal.

This service is much newer because it was only made possible by recent changes to state and federal law. The Uniform Transaction Act of 1999 (UETA) was the first legal move to strengthen the validity of electronic signatures. In 2000, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) was passed to authorize any signatures and notarizations done electronically among more than one party.

As long as the document is uploaded and signed through a secure forum authorized by E-SIGN and UETA, the notarization is valid.

3. Choose a Type of Notary

You might have thought you’ve chosen a type of notary already after discussing services and mediums, but not yet. There are several terms you might come across that identify the types of services a notary offers. Before attempting to hire a notary, you should understand what these identifiers mean.

Other than a general notary public, you may come across the following terms.

MOBILE NOTARY

If you have decided that you would like to get your documents notarized in person, you might have to visit the notary. In the case of mobile notaries, however, you can make an appointment for them to travel to you. You can have a meeting with involved parties in the location of your choosing and pay a notary public to attend.

If you require a notary to attend in another location, make sure you are hiring a mobile notary. Otherwise, you’ll be expected to travel to their office.

NOTARY SIGNING AGENT

Notary publics perform the most basic level of notary services. They can attest to validity and honesty requiring oaths, documents, and contracts, but nothing more. You cannot ask them for legal advice or have them guide you through the contracts and documents that you are signing.

If you request further services, looking into a notary signing agent might be helpful. Notary signing agents are not only certified to perform notary services can be (the best ones attend training courses) trained to walk you through the documents. 

For example, if you are going through with signing a loan contract, your loan signing agent can also be your notary public. They can guide you through your loan documents, and then notarized your agreement. This is commonly done for home, car, and business loans.

4. Learn About Your State’s Requirements

To make sure that the notary public you are researching online is a legitimate notary, you should arm yourself with knowledge of the law. You should look up your state’s laws and requirements regarding notarizations and check notary public services against them. For example, if you live in Idaho, you should check the Idaho government resources and Idaho notary organizations for requirements.

If you are encountering a notary public that offers certified copies in a state that makes attested copies illegal, then that is a red flag. You should never hire a notary public that is breaking the law by offering illegal services.

5. Check State Department Website

When you find a notary public online, you can check to make sure that they are registered and certified in your state by checking your state department’s website. Every state will have a search engine you can use to search the notary public database.

If you encounter a notary online that is offering services in your state, but you cannot find them in this database, that is a red flag. They either were never trained, certified, and registered, or their certification has expired. Either way, you should not hire them.

6. National Notary Association

The National Notary Association has been a major source of resources for notaries and those who require notary services. Their website offers educational resources regarding laws by state and requirements for notary services.

When hiring a notary public, especially one that doesn’t work at an institution, you need to be careful. Notary certifications are increasingly popular ways to make money, and you don’t want to hire just anyone. You can use the NNA knowledge center to keep up to date on the newest laws and resources to make sure you are hiring a valid and knowledgeable notary public.

7. Check Training and Certification

During all your online searching, remember that notary publics are certified by the state. They must be up to date on the latest laws and hold a valid certification. You’ll want to be certain that, whether you choose in-person or online, a valid service has been performed for the state you live in.

Most notaries will upload many different types of credentials for you to view so that you can be certain they are valid. You should be able to check for a notary commission, E&O insurance policy, NNA certification, and even a Bar Card if they offer legal services.

Make sure that they can show proof of certification for all services they offer. Otherwise, your documents may be rendered invalid and you won’t be able to move forward.

Find the Perfect Notary Online

Ready to get your documents notarized? Finding a reputable and successful notary online is the perfect way to have confidence in your notarization.

If you’re in Boise, Idaho, and need an in-person notary public, Idaho Notary Signing Agent can not only help you with your notarization but travel to you and guide you through your contracts. If you’re anywhere else in Idaho, we can still help you through our Remote Online Notary services.

No need to hesitate. Schedule an appointment today!