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A notary public is a licensed public servant of a state who can administer oaths and affirmations and can be delegated as an official witness during the signing of important documents to prevent fraud. Institutions such as banks and law offices, which deal in financial or real estate transactions, often employ notaries public. Duties vary according to jurisdiction; however, all notaries public must pass a background check and state examination.
A notary public serves as the official witness during the signing of important legal documents.
A notary public must verify the names and identities of the parties involved in signing a document and attests to those identities in his presence. A driver's license, birth certificate or passport are acceptable forms of identification.
Notaries must keep a record of the documents he has certified in a public registry.
An embossed seal or stamp is used by the notary public to verify his presence at the time the documents were signed. Most notaries public are issued a unique identifying number in order to prevent fraudulent use of the seal.
The witnessed signing of a document by a notary public does not automatically make a document legal and true. The document may still be fraudulent. A notary public is not allowed to prepare legal documents or dispense legal advice, unless he is also a licensed attorney.
Read More: The Average Income of a Notary Public
Caroline Tamer has more than 20 years of experience in the communications industry. Her work has been published in national magazines and local newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.