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Help! I Need to Get a Document Notarized!


If you’ve never had a document notarized before you might have questions on the process and what you need to know. Read on for answers to some of these questions.

How Do I Find a Notary Public?

The Oregon Secretary of State has a list of active notaries here, but there is no search function and it is basically a database of names and addresses. You could sort by city, but the interface is clunky and not user friendly. There are several websites that have notary directories and some of the notary associations have directories that you can search. Many banks and public libraries offer notary service for their customers.

What Happens at a Notarization?

You may find that a notary requires an appointment to notarize a document. When I was a notary public, the most frequent question I got was “Why do I need an appointment? I only need you to notarize my signature – it only takes a few minutes to do that.” A notary public is commissioned by the state and acts as an officer of the state. Notarizing a document takes time and the notary’s undivided attention. They need to review the document and the IDs of the signer and any witnesses and fill out their notary journal.

Many notaries charge for their services. When you make an appointment with a notary make sure you ask about any fees and payment methods accepted so that you are prepared for your appointment.

Make sure to bring ID with you. Unless the notary knows you personally, they will need an ID to verify your identity. To find out which forms of identification are acceptable for notarization purposes, visit the Oregon Secretary of State’s Notary FAQ page here.

If your document needs witnesses check with the notary to see if they can provide them. You may have to provide them yourself.

All notarizations require a notarial certificate. Many documents already include a notarial certificate, but for those that do not have one, know that notaries cannot choose the certificate for you. You must choose the certificate yourself. For more information on notarial certificates, you can read this document and see examples

Check with the notary about what documents they will or will not notarize. Some notaries do not notarize wills or mortgage documents. Notaries are not required to notarize all documents. A notary may decide not to notarize a document after they have seen it. For example, a notary may decide not to notarize a document if it is in a language they do not read or speak. If the document has blank spaces that the signer has not filled in, a notary may decline to notarize it. Another reason for deciding not to notarize might be a suspect form of ID, or a suspicion that the signer has been coerced into signing or is not competent to sign (such as an elderly person with cognitive problems).

Notaries will not be able to give legal advice unless they are a licensed attorney representing you. If a notary is not a licensed attorney, they will usually have a disclaimer or sign letting you know they cannot give legal advice or draft legal records.

Do I Have to Appear In Person to Get Something Notarized?

You do need to appear in person, but Oregon has recently started to offer Remote Online Notarization (or RON) commissions to notaries. This allows a qualified notary to offer audio/video technology to remotely located clients. For RON transactions you do need to appear but may do so via an online platform.

Not all Oregon notaries are qualified to perform RONs, so check with your notary to see if they offer this service. There are many platforms a notary can use for RONS. has a good overview of how RONs work using their platform. The notary should tell you about their procedure for conducting the notarization.

Remember to ask the notary you choose about their specific requirements and procedures so that you can get the most out of your notarization appointment.

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