Frequently Asked Questions About Notary Stamps/Seals

What Happens When The Seal Date Has Expired?

Most states require the notary seal to contain the notary public’s name, the words “notary public,” and the date on which the notary public’s commission expires. In California and Texas, this is four years, at which point the notary must renew his or her commission with the Secretary of State. Just because the commission seal date has expired, however, doesn’t mean the notarized document is invalid. As long as the notary notarized the document before the commission expiration date, the document is valid.

What If There’s No Room on The Document For a Seal?Notary Stamp

Documents in need of notarization will typically have more than enough space for the seal. However, there are occasions in which the document won’t have sufficient space for a seal. To further complicate matters, overlapping the notary’s signature or other key elements may void the document. So, what should a notary public do if there’s enough space on the document for a seal?

The easiest solution to this problem is to attach a notary certificate to the back of the document. This second certificate must contain the document title, date, number of pages, and names of any witnesses (if applicable). And on the original certificate, the notary should draw a single horizontal line along with his or her initials and a short annotation saying something along the lines of “see attached certificate.”

Can Anyone Use a Notary Seal?

Only state-commissioned notary publics are legally allowed to use a notary seal. Any person who knowingly uses a notary seal – and who isn’t a public notary – is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor. This holds true for notary publics with expired commissions, as well as people who’ve never been notaries.

Do All States Require Notarial Stamps?

Notary statutes vary from state to state. While most states require notary publics to include a seal on notarized documents, there are some states which do not have this requirement.

States that do require notary stamps include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

What If The Seal Isn’t Legible?

Many states require the notary seal to clearly show certain elements such as the notary’s name, commission date, title, etc. If any of these elements are illegible, the entire document could be rejected from the receiving party. Notaries should ensure the entire stamp is clear with the proper elements showing. If necessary, a notary public should re-stamp over the existing stamp to improve its visibility/clarity. The notary should use caution to ensure the second seal is affixed directly over the original, creating the impression of a single seal.


One thought on “Frequently Asked Questions About Notary Stamps/Seals

  1. What if the Notary Seal is expired, document is illegible, and the document can not be found in the sequential journal of the notary book?

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