Notarizing Out-of-State Documents: What You Should Know

As a notary public, you might be wondering whether you can legally notarize documents from out-of-state clients. A client may create/receive a document in Texas, for instance, and then travel to Florida to request a notarization. Being that laws governing notarial acts within the U.S. vary from state to state, it’s important for the notary public to familiarize him or herself with their respective state’s laws before agreeing to conduct a notarial act.

So, can a notary public notarize out-of-state documents? The short answer is yes, notary publics are legally allowed to notarize documents from any state as long the notarial act is conducted within the geographical boundaries of the notary’s state of commission. Going back to the example mentioned above, a notary public who’s commissioned in Florida can notarize a document that was created in Texas, so long as the act is done in Florida. The notary public can not travel to Texas to perform a notarial, unless he or she is commissioned in Texas.

Bordering Statesmap

There are some cases in which a notary public is legally allowed to act as a notary in multiple states. Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota are just a few states that allow notary publics to act as notaries in bordering states – assuming the bordering state also has this law. A notary public in Montana, for instance, can notarize documents in both Wyoming and North Dakota. Only some states allow this practice, though, so don’t assume that it’s acceptable throughout the country.

Which State’s Law Should I Follow?

The laws of the state in which the notarial act takes place supersedes those of the state from which the document originated. This means the Florida notary public would have to follow Florida’s laws when performing the notarial act on a Texas document, not Texas’ laws. Don’t make the mistake of following the laws from which the document came, as this can place a notary in hot water.

Venue

When notarizing an out-of-state document, the notary public should check the certificate to ensure the state and country listed in the venue section accurately reflect the state in which the notarial act takes place. Some certificates may have this information pre-filled with information reflecting the state of origin. But if a client takes the document across state lines, the notary public must change this information. Crossing through this line and entering the appropriate should suffice.

The Bottom Line…

To recap, notary publics are allowed to notarize out-of-state documents. When doing so, however, the notary should follow the laws of his or her state of commission. It’s also important for notary publics to carefully read the wording within the notarial certificate to ensure it accurately follows the laws.


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