Step by Step Guide to Performing Notarial Acts

When performing notarial acts, it is important that you, as the notary public, complete the following steps to ensure the validity of the notarial act.

Step 1: Require Personal Appearance

Personal appearance is required for notarial acts performed by North Dakota notaries.  Therefore, the person whose signature is being notarized must appear in your presence when you complete the notarial act.

Step 2: Examine the document

Review the document to ensure that it is complete and contains no blanks.

Step 3: Identify the Person Whose Signature is Being Notarized

Verify the identity of the person whose signature is being notarized using any one of the following options:

  1. Personal knowledge – This is the easiest method to verify a person's identity.  It does not require any witnesses or identification cards.  You, as the notary, have personal knowledge from association with the person, which would establish the person's identity.
  2. Identification card or papers – This method of verifying a person's identity involves examining the photograph, accurate physical description, and signature.  Examples of acceptable forms of identification include a driver's license, passport, or government-issued identification card that contains the person's signature or a photograph of the person, which is satisfactory to the notary.
  3. Credible witness – A credible witness is a third person who has personal knowledge of the document signer's identity.  The credible witness must verify on oath or affirmation the document signer's identity.  The notary must be able to identify the credible witness by personal knowledge or on the basis of an identification card or papers.

Step 4: Review the notarial certificate and complete the notarial act

Ensure that the document contains a notarial certificate to identify the notarial act that is being performed.  If the document does not contain a notarial certificate, the person whose signature is being notarized must choose which notarial certificate is needed for the notarial act to be completed.  The notary should not select the notarial certificate.  The selected notarial certificate must contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  • State and county where the notarial is being performed;
  • Text for the certificate of notarial act;
  • Date the notarial act was performed.If the date is prefilled on the certificate, ensure that it is the actual date of the notarial act.If not, correct as necessary, and initial and date next to the correction.
  • Signature of the person whose signature is being notarized;
  • Notary’s signature; and
  • An impression of the notary’s stamping device, which includes the notary’s commission expiration date.

NOTE:  Although not a requirement of state law, you may, for personal protection, choose to maintain a notary journal that documents each notarial act you complete.