Frequently Asked Questions
We Have Answers
What is a notary public?
A notary public is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters typically concerned with powers-of-attorney, estates, foreign and international business and deeds. The main purpose of a notary public is to verify identity and reduce the probability of fraud. The primary role of a notary public is to serve the public as an impartial witness when important documents are signed. In the United States, a notary public is appointed by a state government. In California’s case this is the Secretary of State. The California Secretary of State, Notary Public & Special Filings Section, is responsible for appointing and commissioning qualified persons as notaries public for four-year terms.
What is a Mobile Notary?
A mobile notary travels to your location. Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis therefore it is often necessary and/or convenient to have a mobile notary come to you. If a person is immobile i.e. in a hospital, rehabilitation or convalescent home, they cannot travel to a notarial location. In addition, on some occasions multiple people need to meet at one particular place or a person may wish to have a document notarized in the privacy of their home. A mobile notary can assist in these situations.
What is a signing agent?
A Notary Signing Agent is a Notary who has special expertise to handle and notarize loan papers. For lenders, Notary Signing Agents are the critical final link to complete the loan. A Notary Signing Agent is hired as an independent contractor to ensure that real estate loan documents are executed by the borrower, notarized and returned for processing on time. Completing this critical part of the loan process enables the loan to be funded.
What is an Apostille?
An Apostille (pronounced “ah-po-steel”) is a French word meaning certification. It’s simply the name for a specialized certificate, issued by the California Secretary of State. The Apostille, which contains a stamped red seal, is attached to your original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic so it will accepted in one of the other countries who are members of the Hague Apostille Convention.
In 1961, many countries joined together to create a simplified method of “legalizing” documents for universal recognition. Members of the conference, referred to as the Hague Convention, adopted a document referred to as an Apostille that would be recognized by all member countries. Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.
The Apostille Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Documents destined for use in participating countries and their territories should be certified by one of the officials in the jurisdiction in which the document has been executed. The Apostille Convention requires that all Apostille’s be numbered consecutively, with individual numbers applied to each Apostille issued. The recognized standard Apostille contains 10 mandatory references:
- a seal,
- name of country from which the document emanates,
- name of person signing the document,
- the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted,
- the name of the authority that has affixed the seal or stamp,
- place of certification date of certification,
- the authority issuing the certificate,
- number of certificate,
- seal or stamp of authority issuing certificate, and
- signature of authority issuing certificate.
Example of a California Apostille
Prior to the introduction of Apostille certificates the burden on international courts and authorities to judge foreign documents as authentic was quite considerable. On the 5 October 1961 the Hague Convention abolished the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents. The Convention reduces all of the formalities of legalization to the simple delivery of a certificate in a prescribed form, entitled “Apostille”, by the authorities of the State where the document originates. This certificate, placed on the document, is dated, numbered and registered. The verification of its registration can be carried out without difficulty by means of a simple request for information addressed to the authority which delivered the certificate.
Where do you provide your services?
We will come to you at any place that is most convenient for you. This can be your home or office, a restaurant, a nursing facility, hospital, airport or federal, state or county building. We primarily offer this extensive coverage in and around the South Bay in Los Angeles County. However, we also offer service to many cities in and around Orange County and the San Fernando Valley.
What are your hours?
Our normal business hours are as follows:
- Monday: 8am-7pm
- Tuesday: 8am-7pm
- Wednesday: 8am-7pm
- Thursday: 8am-7pm
- Friday: 8am-7pm
- Sat/Sun: 10am-6pm
Note: Sunday rates are subject to an additional $25 fee on top of the regular mobile service fees. We offer services outside of these normal business hours for an additional service fee. Please refer to our fee schedule or contact us directly if you are looking to utilize these additional services.
How do I schedule an appointment?
- You can call us at (310) 845-6144
- You can book an appointment using our online scheduling platform
- You can send a request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lastly, you can hit the ‘Chat Live with a Notary’ popup towards the lower righthand side of our website and you will be connected with a Notary who can assist you in real time.
What do I need at the time of signing?
- Please review all documents for the correct spelling of names and correct dates
- Please complete all forms except signatures and notarized areas
- Make sure to bring a valid identification for the signing
What type of identification document (ID) is acceptable?
Any one of the following valid Identifications (providing they are current) are acceptable:
- California Driver’s License
- California Identification Card
- Two credible witness’s (for a person who does not have current ID)
- Mexico Driver’s license
- US Passport
- US Military ID Card
- Other State Driver’s License
- Other State Identification card, Canada Driver’s License
- Foreign Passports stamped by USCIS
What types of documents can you notarize?
There are so many types of documents that could need notarizing. Below, we have compiled a list of the ones we most frequently process. If you have any questions about them, or if you are unsure about whether your document needs to be notarized or not, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help out.
- Powers of Attorney
- DMV Documents
- Personal Legal documents
- Parental Consent Letters for Travel
- Financial Documents
- Acknowledgements / Affirmations
- Wills & Trusts
- I-9 Employment Verification (as Authorized Rep)
- Domestic Partnerships
- Health Care Directives
- Passport & Visa Authentications
- Adoption Documents
- Corporate Documents
- Vehicle Title Transfers
- Mylar Maps
- Condo Conversion
- Health Care Directives
- Estate Planning Documents
- Trust & Wealth Management
- Real Estate Documents
- Proof of Residency
What types of payments do you accept?
What can a Notary DO and CANNOT DO?
A notary public CAN DO:
- Attest documents and certify their execution for use in the country, or abroad
- Prepare and certify Powers of Attorney, contracts, deeds, wills and numerous other legal documents
- Administer oaths for local and international documents
- Witness signatures to statutory declarations, powers of attorney, affidavits, contracts and other legal documents
- Certify copy of documents for use in the country or abroad
- Prepare official documents for use abroad
A notary public CANNOT DO:
- Translate the words ‘Notary Public’ into any other language
- Offer legal advice, or modify any terms on a document
- Notarize blank or incomplete documents
- Notarize signatures of people who are not present
Why can’t a notary public prepare my documents?
The responsibilities of a notary are limited. For example, a notary is not allowed to prepare legal documents or offer legal advice about a particular document (unless he or she is also an attorney). A notary public in most of the United States and Canada has limited powers than those of civil-law or other common-law notaries, both of whom are qualified lawyers admitted to the bar: such notaries may be referred to as notaries-at-law or lawyer notaries. In common law, notarial service is distinct from the practice of law, and giving legal advice and preparing legal instruments is forbidden to notaries such as those appointed throughout most of the United States of America.
What are the most common types of notarizations?
The purpose of an acknowledgment is to ensure that the signer of a document is who they claim to be and has voluntarily signed the document. Acknowledgments often are needed for documents concerning valuable assets, such as deeds, mortgages and deeds of trust. To perform an acknowledgment, the signer must personally appear before you at the time of notarization to be positively identified and to declare — or “acknowledge” — that the signature on the document is their own and that they signed willingly. While it is common practice for your client to sign the document in front of you at the time of the notarization, it is not necessary. Your client may sign the document before bringing it to you and declare — or acknowledge — to you that the signature on the document is theirs.
The purpose of a jurat is for a signer to swear or affirm that the contents of a document are true. Depending on the jurisdiction, it also can be known as an affidavit or a verification on oath or affirmation. For a jurat, the signer must personally appear before you and sign the document in your presence. You must then administer an oath or affirmation and have the signer speak aloud his or her promise that the statements in the document are true. The choice between an oath or affirmation should be made by the signer. Administering the oath or affirmation is a vital part of performing a jurat or verification because the signer is affirming that the contents of the document are true, and he or she may be prosecuted for perjury if the contents are not true.
In some cases, a client may simply need you to administer an oath or affirmation orally, rather than as part of a jurat, affidavit or other written document. The purpose of administering a verbal oath or affirmation is, again, to compel a client to truthfulness. An oath is a solemn pledge to a supreme being. An affirmation is a solemn pledge on the individual’s personal honor. Again, the choice should be made by the signer.
A copy certification confirms that a reproduction of an original document is a “full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction” of the original. Documents requiring copy certification may include: diplomas, driver’s licenses, leases, contracts, vehicle titles, Social Security cards, medical records and bills of sale. To perform a copy certification, the person in possession of an original document (known also as the “document custodian”) takes the original document to a Notary. The Notary typically will make a photocopy of the document and complete a certificate for the copy certification to confirm that the photocopy is a true, accurate and complete copy of the original. While copy certifications are considered a common notarial act, nearly half of the U.S. states bar Notaries from performing this type of notarization. Make sure to check your state’s guidelines to see if you may certify copies. Of the states that do authorize this act, some stipulate that you may only certify copies of documents, not images, or other items. Other states allow Notaries to certify copies of both “records” and “items,” such as graphs, maps or images. Many states also forbid the copy certification of vital, public documents, such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and deeds. And as a general practice, the Model Notary Act (section 2-4) recommends against certifying copies of these types of documents. Certified copies of these documents may be obtained from the agency that holds the originals.
A number of states authorize Notaries to perform a signature witnessing. With this notarial act, you certify that the individual appearing before you is who he or she claims to be, and the signature on the record is the signature of the individual before you. The main difference between a signature witnessing and an acknowledgment is that you witness the document being signed. The main difference between a signature witnessing and a jurat, affidavit, or verification upon oath or affirmation is that, with a signature witnessing, you do not administer an oath.