The form most frequently completed by the notary public is the certificate of acknowledgment. The certificate of acknowledgment must be in the form set forth in Civil Code section 1189. In the certificate of acknowledgment, the notary public certifies:
- That the signer personally appeared before the notary public on the date indicated in the county indicated;
- To the identity of the signer; and
- That the signer acknowledged executing the document.
The notary public sequential journal must contain a statement that the identity of a person making the acknowledgment or taking the oath or affirmation was based on satisfactory evidence. If identity was established based on the oath of a credible witness personally known to the notary public, then the journal must contain the signature of the credible witness or the type of identifying document used to establish the witness’ identity, the governmental agency issuing the document, the serial or identifying number of the document, and the date of issue or expiration of the document. If the identity of the person making the acknowledgment or taking the oath or affirmation was established by the oaths or affirmations of two credible witnesses whose identities are proven to the notary public upon the presentation of satisfactory evidence, then the journal must contain the signatures of the credible witnesses and the type of identifying documents, the identifying numbers of the documents and the dates of issuance or expiration of the documents presented by the witnesses to establish their identities.
The certificate of acknowledgment must be filed completely out at the time the notary public’s signature and seal are affixed. The certificate of acknowledgment is executed under penalty of perjury. (Civil Code section 1189(a)(1))
The completion of a certificate of acknowledgment that contains statements that the notary public knows to be false not only may cause the notary public to be liable for civil penalties and administrative action, but is also a criminal offense. The notary public who willfully states as true any material fact known to be false is subject to a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000. (Civil Code section 1189(a)(4))
A notary public may complete a certificate of acknowledgment required in another state or jurisdiction of the United States on documents to be filed in that other state or jurisdiction, provided the form does not require the notary public to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or to make other determinations and certifications not allowed by California law.
Any certificate of acknowledgment taken within this state shall be in the following form:
Note: An acknowledgment cannot be affixed to a document mailed or otherwise delivered to a notary public whereby the signer did not personally appear before the notary public, even if the signer is known by the notary public. Also, a notary public seal and signature cannot be affixed to a document without the correct notarial wording.