Notarizing, Notary Services, Apostille Certification and Remote Notarial Acts

What does it mean to have a document notarized and why can it be important?

Notarization is the official fraud-deterrent process that assures the parties of a transaction that a document is authentic, and can be trusted. It is a three-part process, performed by a Notary Public, that includes vetting, certifying and record-keeping. Notarizations are  sometimes referred to as "notarial acts."

The central value of notarization lies in the Public Notary’s impartial screening of a signer for identity, willingness and awareness. This screening detects and deters document fraud, and helps protect the personal rights and property of private citizens from forgers, identity thieves and exploiters of the vulnerable. In Florida, the process of notarization prevents countless forged, coerced and incompetent signings that would otherwise overwhelm our court system and dissolve the network of trust allowing our civil society to function.

What are the different notarial acts?

Acknowledgments: An acknowledgment is typically performed on documents controlling or conveying ownership of valuable assets. Such documents include real property deeds, powers of attorney and trusts. For an acknowledgment, the signer must appear in person at the time of notarization to be positively identified and to declare (“acknowledge”) that the signature on the document is his or her own, that it was willingly made and that the provisions in the document are intended to take effect exactly as written.

Jurats: A jurat is typically performed on evidentiary documents that are critical to the operation of our civil and criminal justice system.  Such documents include affidavits, depositions and interrogatories. For a jurat, the signer must appear in person at the time of notarization to sign the document and to speak aloud an oath or affirmation promising that the statements in the document are true. (An oath is a solemn pledge to a Supreme Being; an affirmation is an equally solemn pledge on one’s personal honor.) A person who takes an oath or affirmation in connection with an official proceeding may be prosecuted for perjury should he or she fail to be truthful.

Certified Copies: A copy certification is performed to confirm that a reproduction of an original document is true, exact and complete. Such originals might include college degrees, passports and other important one-and-only personal papers which cannot be copy-certified by a public record office, such as a bureau of vital statistics, and which the holder must submit for some purpose but does not want to part with for fear of loss. It may be executed only with certain kinds of original document.

Clerk's Office Notary Services

Notary services, for signatures only, is available at these Clerk locations. The fee for this service is $10 per signature. The parties whose signatures are to be notarized must come into the Clerk's office in person, with a current government-issued photo ID if they are not personally known to the notary, must be at least 18 years of age, must show the notary that they understand what they are signing and must be signing the document of their own free will, and the notary must actually witness the signing of the document. The document being signed cannot contain any blank information -- if the information cannot be filled in, then "N/A' must be written in those fields.

Notarial or Apostile Certification

An Apostille is a certification provided under the Hague convention of 1961 for authenticating documents for use in foreign countries. The Florida Secretary of State is the only authority authorized to issue notarial and apostille certifications in the State of Florida through the Division of Corporations Apostille Section. Find out more here.

Additional Information 

Remote Notarial Acts: View the FAQ on these here.

How to become a Florida Notary: click here.

How to locate a Commissioned Notary in Florida: try the State's search tool here.

What Florida State Statutes refer to Notary Commissions and Public Notaries: click here.

Federal Apostille Authentications for foreign apostille certifications: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Authentications: click here.