How to Complete a Notary Acknowledgment

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How to complete an Acknowledgment

Acknowledgments are the most often completed notarial act by far but specific rules apply when completing these, especially for California notaries. To find out how to complete a California Acknowledgment, watch the video above.

Important differences between California Acknowledgments and other states’ Acknowledgments

There are two significant differences between Acknowledgment forms from California and those from other states. The most obvious difference is that California requires a disclaimer to appear directly and immediately above the venue portion of the Acknowledgment form which reminds those on the receiving end that the notary has not certified anything about the document but has only certified the identity of the signer.

A notary public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signs the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy or validity of that document.

California Disclaimer Statement


This Disclaimer Statement must be in an enclosed box and in a type-faced font that is legible which means that the notary may not simply write it in if a California Acknowledgement is required. The notary may use a “disclaimer stamp” or will need to use a separate Acknowledgment certificate. (By the way, the same Disclaimer Statement must be present on Jurats and Proofs of Execution notarial certificates as well.)

Another difference that will distinguish California Acknowledgments from most other states is the clause just above the signature line of a notary that requires the notary to sign the Acknowledgment Certificate under Penalty of Perjury. The only notarial act that a California notary signs under penalty of perjury is an Acknowledgment. This means that if a notary completes and signs an Acknowledgment Certificate and willfully misrepresents the date of notarization, the venue or the signer(s) appearing before the notary, that misrepresentation could lead to a criminal felony.

California Acknowledgment forms do not need to be used for documents being returned to other states

Most California notaries mistakenly believe that they are always required to use California Acknowledgment wording whenever they complete an Acknowledgment. This is not true. If a document is staying in California or being sent to a different country, and if the document requires an Acknowledgement, the notary must use California Acknowledgment wording,  but if the document is going to be sent to a different state, the notary may use that state’s wording as long as that wording does not require a notary to do something illegal. If the wording on an Acknowledgment from another state requires a notary to use their own personal knowledge to verify identity or the authorized capacity of the signer,  then the notary may not complete that state’s acknowledgment wording and must replace it with a California Acknowledgment certificate even though it will be returned to another state.

As long as the state’s Acknowledgment wording does not require California notaries to do something illegal, that Acknowledgment for that state may be completed. If using another state’s Acknowledgment, notaries should not place the disclaimer stamped image on that state’s Acknowledgment wording.

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