Do you need someone to notarize the title of your automobile or the deed to a piece of property you own? If so, you'll need to hire a public notary to take care of your personal documentation. But before you rush out to hire anyone, familiarize yourself with a few of these terms:
Public Notary - A public notary is a government agent who has sworn an oath to verify and represent important documents. A notary may certify, or witness, an important document by signing the document and adding a stamp or seal of approval to it. The document is thereby certified and it may then serve as a legal acknowledgment in a court of law. Important financial documents, like loans, are often notarized, for this reason.
Witness - Sometimes, when an agent signs and notarizes a document, it is said that he or she has witnessed it. This means that the agent has carefully reviewed the document - whether it's an oath, a will, a legal certificate, an affidavit, or something else entirely - and has approved its validity.
Certificate - Once a document has been notarized, it becomes an official certificate, and it can be used in a court of law. Just about any sort of document can become a certificate. Business documents, financial documents, jurats, and loans can all be certified, for instance.
Mobile Notary - Most notary agents are highly mobile. This means that they are willing and able to travel around their city or county, notarizing documents wherever they are needed most. They are sometimes also willing to travel to provide citizens with additional services, like fingerprinting.
When documents need to be proper acknowledgment, they need to be taken to a public notary. This person will sign and stamp the document with a legal seal to officially notarize the paper. Each notary's seal is different, like a legal fingerprint. Often, this person will witness you signing a jurat (an oath at the foot of an affidavit that states where, when, and before whom the document was signed) claiming the paper to be an original or a certified copy of the original before singing it themselves.
Notary agents have been around since ancient Rome, where the slave Tiro developed the shorthand system "notae" for taking down the speeches of Cicero. Six hundred years later, the law school of Bologna used Tiro's methods to create the first real notaries. These folks prepared financial papers, wills, and other contracts for a fee. Soon the need for notaries spread all over Europe and migrated with the colonists to America in the 1600s. Only the most upstanding citizens were appointed as public notaries in the colonies since it was their job to certify and keep papers safe. Since then, the biggest responsibility of the notary has become to make sure papers like property deeds, power of attorney, mobile vehicle titles, and financial loans are true copies and not forgeries.
These officials are appointed by the state. They cover personal and business certificates for things like mobile travel and loans while maintaining a sense of impartiality. A notary is tested often to make sure they never turn away service because of a person's race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, nationality, or political ties.