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Frequently Asked Questions 

You may have many questions regarding the notary public or the notarization process. Below are some answers to some general questions about the profession.


What is a Notary Public?

A notary public is a public official, commissioned by the state, but in practice many tend to work in the private sector, either in business for him/herself or in association with a law firm or other corporation. A notary public is invested with the power to witness signatures, administer oaths and administrations, and perform other functions, such as presiding over marriages, as permitted by state law.


Can a Notary Public provide legal advice?


No. A Notary Public is not able to provide legal advice because it is considered the practice of law.  For legal advice you will need to consult an attorney.  Some attorney's may be a Notary Public, in which case, they may provide you with legal advice.


Why are documents notarized?


Documents are notarized to deter fraud. The Notary, commissioned by the state, is an impartial witness that ensures the signer(s) of documents are who they say they are, and confirms the signers have entered into the agreement(s) knowingly and willingly.​


What are the acceptable forms of identification?

Identify of the signer can be established by the notary public’s reasonable reliance on the presentation of any one of the following documents, if the identification document is current or has been issued within five years (Civil Code Section 1185(b)(3) & (4));

  • An identification card or driver’s license issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • A United States passport.
  • Other California-approved identification card, consisting of any one of the following, provided that is also contains a photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number.
  • A passport issued by a foreign government, provided that is has been stamped by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • A driver’s license issued by a state other than California or by a Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses;
  • An identification card issued by a state other than California;
  • A United States military identification card with the required photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number;
  • An inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, if the inmate is in custody; or
  • An employee identification card issued by an agency or office of the State of California, or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California.
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