Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Notary Public?

 A Notary Public is an official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents. 

What forms of ID are acceptable for document notarization?


For document notarization, a valid photo identification card is required by each signer.  One of the following identification document will do as long as it is current or has been issued within the past 5 years:

  • An identification card or driver’s license issued by the California DMV
  • A United States passport
  • An inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, if the inmate is in custody in California state prison
  • Any form of inmate identification issued by a sheriff’s department, if the inmate is in custody in a local detention facility
  • A valid consular identification document issued by a consulate from the applicant’s country of citizenship, or a valid passport from the applicant’s country of citizenship
  • A driver’s license issued by another state or by a Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses
  • An identification card issued by another state
  • A United States military identification card (current military identification cards might not contain all the required information)
  • An identification card issued by a federally recognized tribal government
  • An employee identification card issued by an agency or office of the State of California,or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California
  • Most preceding forms of identification, are acceptable provided that it also contains a photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number

NOTE:  If the document signer does not have one of the above identifying documents available, or it would be excessively difficult for the document signer to obtain identification, two additional persons who do have one of the above documents may be present who will swear to the signer's identity.  The two individuals have to be over the age of 18, have valid identification ready for inspection and must swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that they personally know the signer. They will also need to be present at the time of witnessing and sign the notary journal.   

Can a notary public certify vital records?

A notary public may only certify copies of powers of attorney.

Certified copies of birth, fetal death, death, and marriage records may be made only by the

State Registrar, by duly appointed and acting local registrars during their term of office, and

by county recorders.

See Copy Certification by Document Custodian below.

What is the difference between an acknowledgement and a jurat?

In the certificate of acknowledgment, the notary public verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document." 

A jurat is the notarial certificate attached to or printed on a document where in a person swears under oath or affirms that the contents of the document are true and correct. The notarial certificate for a jurat is identified by the wording “Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed).” 

NOTE:  A notary public cannot legally choose what notarial act is appropriate for a document. If you as the signer are unsure please contact the agency that issued the document and ask them to advise. 

What is a Copy Certification By Document Custodian?

A copy certification by document custodian is an affidavit signed and sworn to by the document custodian with a jurat in which the custodian, not the notary, guarantees that the copy is an authentic reproduction of the original.