By Victoria Anton—While this information is specifically for Notaries Public in Florida, they may apply to safeguards in other states as well.

Isolated Notarial Certificates

A document that is prepared with the notarial certificate separated from the text and the signature line may be open to tampering. If you are typing a document for notarization and or have input before the document is typed, you may be able to prevent this problem. Make sure that at least two lines of text, the signature line, and the notarial certificate are on the same page. If it’s impossible to prevent an isolated notarial certificate, follow these recommendations for the notarization.

  • Make a notation on the document near or below the signature of the signer that the notarial certificate is attached.
  • In the notarial certificate, name the document and the signer to which the notarial certificate applies, i.e., “a Power of Attorney for John Brown naming Nancy Smith as his attorney-in-fact to sell his 1992 Toyota truck.” Be specific so that this notarial certificate could not be attached to another document.
  • Complete the notarial certificate and affix your notary seal. Then, make a second impression of your notary seal with half the seal on the notarization page and half on the previous page. Or, if you have a metal embosser seal, you can impress all or several pages together. Later, if there is an allegation of document tampering, this simple safeguard may be the determining factor of the validity of the claim.

If you are asked by the signer to add a particular notarial certificate to a document, you should type or write the certificate directly onto the document, if possible. Putting the notarial certificate on the back of the signature page is preferable to attaching a separate notarial certificate.

Florida Notaries: Florida Statute 117.05 (3)(a) – A notary public seal shall be affixed to all notarized paper documents and shall be of the rubber stamp type and shall include the words “Notary Public-State of Florida.” The seal shall also include the name of the notary public, the date of expiration of the commission of the notary public, and the commission number. The rubber stamp seal must be affixed to the notarized paper document in photographically reproducible black ink. Every notary public shall print, type, or stamp below his or her signature on a paper document his or her name exactly as commissioned. An impression-type seal may be used in addition to the rubber stamp seal, but the rubber stamp seal shall be the official seal for use on a paper document, and the impression-type seal may not be substituted therefor.

I have recommended for many years now for all notaries especially in the mortgage industry to invest in an embosser. Embossers can be ordered most anywhere. When ordering your embosser you need to ask what method they use and what type of plates. I have had ordered several embossers from various organizations and was not happy with the impression most of them make. These are usually laser engraved or laser cut plates. The laser plates usually are not cut as deep as the old style metal plates.

Another item to keep in mind when ordering an embosser is you are NOT required to put your commission number or expiration date on it. This way the embosser can be used over the period of several commissions rather than new plates every four years. You have to specify this though when ordering. Some organizations will require that you put this information on the plates so sometimes it is an uphill battle.

Florida Notries: If you run into this problem with a company while ordering plates, it is spelled out in the Florida Governor’s Notary Manual on pp. 9 where it states that on the embosser “your name should be correct and the seal should contain the words, “Notary Public-State of Florida.”