Notaries play a vital role in Missouri. As authorized public officials of the state, they serve the public as impartial witnesses to important legal and commercial transactions by verifying the identities of the individuals involved in notarizations and witnessing them sign documents.
If you are a Missouri resident and need to notarize a document, this guide will explain how you should prepare to perform a notarization and what happens during one. Fortunately, notarizing a document in Missouri is a simple and straightforward process. Finding a notary is easy, as there are well over 60,000 notaries in Missouri.
To notarize a document in Missouri, follow the steps listed below:
1- Determine the correct type of notarization for your document
Before contacting a notary, you first need to know which kind of notarization you need.
There are five main types of notarizations allowed in Missouri: acknowledgements, oaths and affirmations, jurats, signature witnessing, and copy certifications.
Acknowledgments: For an acknowledgment notarization, you will make a statement indicating that you voluntarily signed a document before the notarization takes place.
Oaths and Affirmations: For an oath notarization, you will vow to the truthfulness of a document using the word “swear” and invoking a deity. For an affirmation notarization, you will make a vow of truthfulness without invoking a deity or using the word “swear.”
Jurats: For a jurat notarization, you will take an oath or make an affirmation stating that the information in a document is true.
Signature Witnessing: For signature witnessing, you will sign the document in the presence of the notary.
Copy Certification: For a copy certification, the notary will verify that a document is identical to the original.
Unless they are also licensed attorneys, notaries are prohibited from telling you which notarization you need; they can only describe what the notarizations are. The main purpose of notaries is to confirm the authenticity of the document and your identity. If you need help, contact the American Association of Notaries, and we will assist you. You can also contact the institution that drafted the document, the agency that will receive it, or a lawyer.
2- Prepare the document for notarization
Enter all the information on the document before you meet the notary. This includes addresses and the names of the parties involved. It is critical that you check that your name on the document exactly matches the one on the form of identification you will present to the notary. If the notary discovers a discrepancy, he or she will not be able to notarize the document.
Don’t leave any blank spaces on the document. If you need to sign the document in front of the notary, leave the space above lines blank where you will place your signature. If you fail to fill in all of the information, willingly or unwillingly, you could be charged with fraud if that information is written in after the notarization. You should be aware that Missouri notaries are prohibited from notarizing incomplete documents, so it is important to fill in the information prior to the notarization.
It would be wise for you to have a lawyer review the document before the notarization, especially if the document is legal in nature. The lawyer may find mistakes that need to be corrected, which will waste time and cost you money.
Print copies of the document to retain for your records and, if such is the case, to distribute to other parties of the notarization. The notary will probably not do so for you. Giving copies to others allows them or someone they hire to look over the document.
3- Find a notary
Finding a notary in Missouri is simple. You could start by doing an internet search for “notary public” in your city or town. Many names will appear in the results. Mobile notaries can be found this way but be aware that they usually charge travel or other kinds of fees. Banks and other financial institutions typically have notaries on staff and often offer notarial services for free if you have an account. If you are not a customer, you can usually still get a notarization for a small fee. Contacting your city hall or county courthouse is another option. Sometimes local governments allow their notaries to offer their services for a fee to private citizens. Law or real estate offices sometimes offer notarial services as well.
4- Prepare for the notarization
Make an appointment with the notary for the notarization. If there are other signers beside yourself, ensure that the time and place work for everyone. All parties must be present before the notarization can begin. Bring the document, your current and valid form of identification, and the fees you previously agreed to pay to the notary. Most state notary laws set the maximum amount of fees notaries may charge. Other fees such as travel charges are not always regulated by state law. Be sure to discuss and agree to all fees with the notary before you meet.
5- Notarize the document
The notary will verify your identity and then, depending on the type of notarization, administer oaths or affirmations, watch you (and the other parties) sign the document, and take acknowledgments. The notary will then place his or her seal on the document. The notary may also fill out a notarial certificate and enter information about the notarization in the notary journal.
Getting a document notarized in Missouri is straightforward. As long as you familiarize yourself with the process ahead of time and carefully prepare the document, the notarization should go smoothly. If you have any questions, contact the American Association of Notaries and we will be happy to assist you.
Click here to learn how to become a notary in Missouri.