A notary public is someone who has been appointed by the state to authenticate legal documents and verify the identity of the document’s signer(s). Notaries can be individuals such as lawyers or government officials.
Notarisation (the process of getting your document signed by a notary public) helps prevent fraud by ensuring individuals authenticate their documents before they can be used. It can also help confirm that the signer intended to sign the document and wasn’t pressured into doing so (e.g. through undue influence, coercion or duress, etc.), similar to signing your document in front of a witness.
A notarised document is a document that has been certified by a notary public. The notary public is an official who verifies the identities of everybody signing the document, witnesses the signatures, and marks the document with a stamp
A notary’s job is to ensure that all signatures on a document are legitimate.
- Identity verification: A notary requires identification from anybody signing a document and records details about the identification documents each individual provides.
- Willing signers: Notaries are supposed to look for signs of coercion. Even if you don’t like what’s in a document, are you signing on your own free will, or is somebody forcing you to sign?
- Capable of sound decisions: A notary should verify that signers are in a condition where they can truly understand what they’re signing. If an individual is intoxicated, heavily medicated, or unable to understand what’s happening for any reason, the notary cannot notarise the document.
A notary will refuse to validate a signature if there are any potential problems with the signer.
Bring Official Identification
The notary will ask for identification to verify that you really are who you say you are. You’ll need official identification with a photograph—a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID. If the notary is not confident that you are who you say you are, he or she can refuse to notarise your document.
Wait to Sign
Bring an unsigned document to the notary—don’t sign it ahead of time. The notary needs to watch you sign, in most cases. If they don’t witness your signature, they can’t verify who signed the document.