Placing the notary stamp (also known as a notary seal) on a document is one of the most important steps in providing a notarial service. All 50 states require public notaries to place their respective stamp on documents as a means to finalize and authenticate the service. Without this stamp, the document is not legally notarized.
But what happens when there’s not enough room on a document for the notarial stamp or seal? Stamps are unique to each notary, containing the public notary’s name, date, state and county of commission, commission number, and expiration date. Without this stamp in place, the document won’t hold up under a court of law if challenged, which is why it’s crucial to include it on every notarized document.
Most states require public notaries to place their stamp on an open area of the document, not covering the notary’s signature or other important text. Depending on the document, however, this may or may not be an easy task. It’s not uncommon for some documents to contain top-to-bottom text, with the only ‘free’ space being the signature area for the notary and client. Placing the notary stamp over the signature may void the document, negating the notary’s work. So, how can you finalize a notarial service when there’s not enough room on the document?
There are a couple of options available in the event that no room is left for a notarial stamp or seal, one of which is to attach a certificate to the document. The notarial agency may request the public notary to attach a certificate to the document containing notary verbiage, such as an acknowledgment, attestation clause or jurat. In this instance, the document is stapled or otherwise attached, and the words “see attached certificate” are written on the original document. This alerts the receiving agency of the attached certificate; thus, finalizing the notarial service. The title and date must also be added to verify the certificate’s authenticity.
Some states allow public notaries to add their stamp over generic “boiler plate” content. If there’s general, nondescript text that’s found in several pages of the document, the notary can add his or her stamp over this area. With that said, notarial stamps should only be placed on areas of boilerplate content and not sensitive information related to the document’s purpose.
There are a couple of things public notaries should be aware of when adding a stamp or seal to a document. For starters, they must abide by all laws set forth by their respective state of commission as well as the receiving agency. If the state or receiving agency requests a certain area for the stamp, the public notary must abide by their wishes. Also, stamping should always be performed around the notary’s signature and notarial verbiage.
Find more answers to frequently asked questions about notary stamps/seals.