Sunday, May 10, 2015

Talking it Through: Notarizing a Copy of a Passport (or Driver License)

Good morning, readers! The following scenario is a common one.  I thought that I would take the time to write a script of how I would handle this if the situation occurred.  
Happy reading!  Brenda

One of the most common requests that notaries receive is that of a client who seeks to obtain a notarized copy of a driver license or passport.  The client does not care how it gets done, he or she simply wants to have a notary’s seal attached to a copy of his or her passport or driver license.

A client in need of such an act imagines that this would be a simple procedure of taking the passport or driver license to a notary public and having the notary make a copy.  The client envisions that the notary will stamp his or her seal on the copy and sign it.  And, abracadabra!  The client has a notarized copy of a passport or driver license! 

But, as you probably know, a notary cannot do this! 

Few states make allowances for notaries to certify copies of passports and driver licenses.  Florida allows notaries to “attest” to true and correct copies of these and other types of documents, but notaries in most states do not have this type of authority.

Notaries can’t just stamp and sign documents, and certainly not copies of passports or driver licenses.  Yet, the numbers of these types of requests seem to increase each year. 

Generally speaking, a notarial act requires a notarial certificate with appropriate language attached to a document signed by another person.  Therefore, one way to help clients who need a “notarized copy” of passports or driver licenses is to let them provide written statements about their ID documents.

Through the sample dialog provided below, readers will learn a safe route to managing this type of request.

The client calls the notary.

Client:  I need a notarized copy of my passport.  I made a copy of it; I just need you to notarize it--just stamp it.

Notary:  Great!  I might be able to help you. 

Please understand that I can’t just apply my seal and signature to the copy, but I CAN notarize signed statements.

Client:  I just need you to stamp it. 

Notary:  I can only place my seal on notarial certificates that are attached to signed documents.  If you write a statement about the copy of your passport and sign it, I can notarize your signature on that statement.

Client:  Wait!  You are saying that I have to write a statement?  Are you sure?  I thought that notaries had forms for this kind of thing. 

Notary:  No, I am sorry.  Some notaries may claim to have forms for this purpose, but unless a notary is also an attorney, he or she should not provide forms to clients.  That’s the same as preparing legal documents; notaries cannot do that.  The would be considered “unauthorized practice of law.”

Client:  Just type up whatever I need to say.  I will pay you extra.

Notary:  Unfortunately, I can’t type it for you.  In fact, I am not actually advising you to write a statement.  I’m not a lawyer, so I really cannot advise you about anything.   I am telling you that I can notarize signed statements.

Client: You are not being very helpful.  This is a pain.  Are you sure you know what you are doing?

Notary:  I know what my state’s notarial laws allow me to do.  I really am trying to help.  If you write a statement describing the copy of your passport, I can notarize your signature on that statement. I just can’t tell you what to say.

Client:  Are you serious?

Notary:  Yes.  I know this sounds complicated, but let me explain.  Notaries can notarize written statements about anything.  If you want to make write a statement about your highest bowling score, the color of your house, the age of your children, or anything else that is truthful, you sign it, and I can notarize it. 

Therefore, if write a statement about the copy you made of your passport, I can notarize your signature on that statement.  Does that make sense? 

Client:  Kind of.  Okay, if I bring you a copy of my passport and a statement about it, you will notarize it? 

Notary:  Yes. 

Client:  I know you know what it should say.  Why don’t you just tell me?

Notary:  I’m sorry, but I cannot tell you what it should say.  It may be helpful to ask yourself the reason you need to have a notarized copy of your passport. That may help you to figure out what you should say in your statement. 

Client:  I am applying with Widget Company, Inc. to sell their widgets.  The company that sells widgets wants to make sure that it knows who I am.  So, they want a notary to verify my identity with a notarized true and accurate copy of a passport!

Notary:   Does that give you an idea of what you need to say?

Client:  Maybe.  I think you are saying that I should write “This is a true copy of my passport.”

Notary:  What you say has to be in your own words.     

Client:  You are making this too difficult.  I will just call another notary!

Notary:  I understand. Thank you for calling. I will be available until 7:00 pm tonight if you choose to call back.

The client calls back an hour later.

Client:  Okay.  Are you still available?  I called around.  Two notaries said they could not help me at all, and one notary said it would be tomorrow.  I called Widget Company, Inc.  They told me what I need to say in my statement.  Does it have to be typed? 

Notary:  No. It does not have to be typed. Handwritten is fine.  Please wait until you get here to sign the document and bring proper ID, either your passport or driver license.  The allowable fee is $X.XX for a notarial act.

The client arrives at the notary’s office.

Notary:  May I see the document that you wish to have notarized?  I will also need to see your ID and it will take a moment to take down information for my notary journal.

[The client hands over the required fee and the copy of his passport; his statement is written beneath it.]

[The notary takes out his receipt book and writes a receipt and hands it to the client.]

Client:  Please hurry.

Notary:  Sir, may I see your ID?

[The notary opens his journal and writes the date of the notarization]

Client:  But, you have a copy of my passport right here!

Notary:  I am so sorry, but I need to see an original ID document.  It can be your driver license or passport. 

Client:  They are both out in the car. You HAVE the copy in your hands!

Notary:  I still need to see an original driver license or passport. A copy is not adequate.

Client:  Fine. 

[The client goes out to get his ID and the notary continues writing in his journal.  He notes “Statement Regarding Copy of Passport with expiration date XX/XX/XX” under the heading of “Document Title.” He pauses, waiting for the client to return with his ID.]

[The client returns with his ID.]

Notary:  Thank you. 

[The notary collects the required ID information for the notary journal.]

Notary:  Please sign your name in my journal. 

[The clients signs the journal and picks up his ID.]

Client:  What else? Can you notarize this document, or not?  I am in a hurry.

Notary:  Since the statement does not have a notarial certificate attached to it, I will need you to choose a certificate for me to attach to your statement.  I will show you samples.

Client:  So, you STILL can’t notarize this?  Just STAMP IT.  I don’t want a certificate.  This is getting ridiculous.  I just want you to stamp THIS COPY of my passport.

Notary:  I know it seems like a lot of work, but I have to operate within my state’s laws. 

Client:  Why can’t you just pick a notary certificate for me?  Isn’t that your business to know which certificate I need?

Notary:   I apologize for this inconvenience, but my state’s laws are clear on this.  I cannot prepare statements for clients to sign and I cannot pick a notarial certificate if one is not supplied with the statement. 

Client:  Fine!  Show me the samples of the certificates!

Notary:  Thank you.  Here are samples of the most common notarial certificates, a jurat and an acknowledgment.  Please select one and I will complete the notarization.

Client:  What’s the difference?

Notary:  I will read the language aloud to you.  I think the difference will be clear.

[Reads the certificates to the client.]

Client:  So, this one (the client points to the jurat) says that I swear or affirm to the truthfulness of my statement and the other one (he points to the acknowledgment) says I acknowledge my signature on the statement.  Well, I am SWEARING that this is a true and correct copy of my passport, so I want that one.  (The client chooses the jurat.)

Notary:  Thank you.

[The notary attaches the jurat certificate to the copy of the passport.  In his journal, he notes “jurat” under “Type of Act”] 

Notary:  I will now administer the verbal ceremony and complete the notarization.  Do you swear or affirm that your written statement is truthful?  If so, please sign the document.

Client:  Is this necessary?

Notary:  Yes, sir.  I must complete a verbal ceremony before I complete the certificate.

Client:  Fine!  Yes.  I swear that my statements are truthful!

Notary:  Thank you.  Please sign the document. 

Client:  Fine.

[The client signs the statement.]

[The notary completes the notarial certificate, signs it, and applies his seal. He slides the document toward the client.]

Client:  Okay.  But, I want you to STAMP THE COPY of my passport, too.  I will pay you another $20, just please stamp the copy.

Notary:  I cannot place my stamp on any part of this document except my certificate which is attached.

Client:  This is not what I want.

Notary:  Sir, I am following the laws of my state. 

Client: ARE YOU SURE?

Notary:  I am sure that I have properly completed this notarization.



No matter how demanding this client became, the notary followed his state’s laws. 

Notaries cannot place their seals on document pages or on copies of ID documents to make them appear more official.  Notaries cannot do this even after they have properly completed a notarial certificate that is attached to the document.

The only thing that this notary could have done differently to make this client a bit happier would have been to place the notarial certificate language on the same page with the notarization.  This can be done neatly and professionally for this type of notarization.


Many notaries own self-inking stamps with the proper language for jurats and acknowledgments.  When they receive requests of this type, they are able to place their notarial seals and signatures on the same page with the copy of the passport of driver license underneath the client’s handwritten or typed statement.  Rather than having a notarial certificate attached on another page, the certificate language appears on the page bearing the copy. The stamp impressions below are from the AAN. 

Similar stamps can also be purchased at NotaryRotary.com

ACKNOWLEDGMENT STAMP


JURAT STAMP







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