Getting a document notarized

What to expect when notarizing

If you are a member of the public who needs to have a document notarized, there are several steps you need to take so that the notary can legally perform the requested notarial act. Expect the following:

Know what type of Notarization you need

Generally, there are five types of notarial acts: acknowledgment, oath and affirmation, jurat, signature witnessing and copy certification. You must be able to tell the notary what type of notarization you need. A notary cannot advise you of the type of notarization you need. Review the types of notarial acts before you visit the notary and confirm with the document drafter or receiving agency what type of notarization they require.

Make sure the document is complete

The document must be complete without any blank spaces. If there are blank spaces on the document, for example a critical date or an interest rate, the document is susceptible to fraud and the notarization cannot be performed.

Make sure all signers are present for the notarization

A signer must be physically present before a notary in order to have their signature notarized.

Be aware and willing

One of the basic duties of a notary is to screen document signers for willingness and awareness. That means a notary will check that you are mentally aware and alert at the time of the notarization, and that you are signing the document voluntarily and not under duress. If you do not know what your transaction is about, or you aren’t sure you want to sign, take steps to address these issues before you go to the notary.

Have identification

The primary duty of a notary public is to verify your identity as a document signer. The most common way they do that is by checking a current document or one expired not more than three years issued by a Federal, State or Tribal Government bearing a photo image of the individual’s face and signature. If you do not have one, you may be able to use what is called “credible identifying witnesses” — a person who is willing to swear to the notary that they know you.  

Make sure the name on your ID matches the name on the document

If you’ve recently changed your legal name due to marriage, divorce or other reasons, be sure that any ID you bring to the notarization matches your name on the document. If there’s a significant discrepancy — for example, your married name appearing on the document is “Mary Smith-Williams” but your ID uses your maiden name of “Mary Smith” — then the notary will not be able to proceed with the notarization unless you can provide an alternate acceptable form of identification that matches the name on the document.

Understand that a notary cannot advise you on legal matters

Notaries who are not qualified attorneys are strictly prohibited from giving legal advice to signers. Notaries are not allowed to advise you on the legal effects of a document, fill in any part of the document except the notarial certificate wording or choose what type of notarial act is needed on your behalf.
Due to widespread problems of people being victimized by fraudulent immigration consultants, be aware that many states prohibit notaries from advertising or offering legal assistance with immigration matters.  

How To Get A Document Notarized

What to bring

  • The document being notarized; know what type of notarization you need and make sure the document is complete
  • All signers
  • Acceptable form of valid Identification that matches the name on the document
  • Payment/Fee

Confirm the notarization is complete

A complete notarial act includes the use of a notarial certificate, notary’s signature, identification number, commission expiration date and notary stamp.


The maximum fee a notary may charge is set by Rhode Island Notary Public Standards of Conduct. Please contact the notary to find out what their fee is.

Pursuant to Rhode Island Notary Public Standards of Conduct, notaries may charge a fee not to exceed $25 per document/notarization; All fees must be posted in a conspicuous place in the notary’s place of business or upon request, fees must be disclosed to any person utilizing the services of a notary.