Frequently Asked Questions

No. In Washington State, the signing party must be in the physical presence of the notary. This is a common error and can put a notary at risk for disciplinary action and/or civil liability for improper notarization.
Yes. A notary can charge up to $10 per notarial act. They may also charge for travel expenses if the amount is agreed upon by the person requesting the notarization prior to the travel.
No. A notary always has the authority to refuse to perform a notarial act unless refusal is prohibited by another law, such as Washington anti-discrimination laws. A notary has the authority to refuse to perform a notarial act if the notary is not satisfied with the evidence of a party’s identity or if the notary is not satisfied that the individual signing a record is competent, has the capacity to sign the record.
Generally, a notary public should not perform a notarial act for a spouse or family member.
Under Washington law, a notary may not notarize their own signature nor perform a notarial act if the notary’s spouse or domestic partner are a party or will have a direct beneficial interest. While not expressly prohibited by chapter 42.45 RCW, it is also generally inadvisable for a notary to notarize a document for extended family members. A notary that performs a notarial act for a family member may be seen as having a conflict of interest in the transaction, which could call the notarial act into question.
There is nothing in state law that forbids a notary public from notarizing a document written in a foreign language or for a signing party that does not speak English. However, the notary must be sure they can still meet the requirements for performing a notarial act.
A notary is generally not responsible for confirming the contents of a document (outside of certifying a copy, but that has unique standards), however, they do need to make sure the correct notarial certificate is on the document. As of July 1, 2018, all notarial certificates must either be in English, or in dual-languages where one of the languages is English, so the notary should be able to identify the certificate on a document being notarized.
A notary should also be aware of the inherent additional difficulty associated with confirming the identity of a signing party when they do not share a common language. Speaking different languages can make it difficult for a notary to properly identify the signing party and what is being asked of them. If the notary has access to a translator that they can rely on, it can help to alleviate this risk.
A notary has the right to refuse to notarize a document if they cannot confirm the required information for that notarial act, including the identity of the signing party.
The I-9 employment form asks for a signature from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services an individual as a business representative, not a notary. Because of this, an I-9 form does not need to be notarized.
Certificate of life forms, which generally ask for signature by a public official to confirm that an individual is alive to receive pension benefits, generally may be notarized by a notary public. Washington State allows a notary public to certify that an event has occurred or an act has been performed and this has been interpreted to include verifying that an individual appeared before the notary on a specific date while alive.
For other specific forms, the question can be answered by determining if there is a notarial certificate that needs to be filled out as part of the document and if that certificate falls under one of the notarial duties authorized by RCW. If there is a notarial certificate that conforms to state requirements, or if a certificate can be logically attached to the document, then it is probably appropriate to notarize the document.
Presently, there is no education requirement or examination as part of the notary public commission application. The Department of Licensing strongly recommends notaries public seek out education regarding their commission and there are a number of organizations that provide notary education. Additionally, we recommend that notaries keep a copy of this handbook and refer to it if they have any questions about the notary practice.

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