Jurisdiction Issues

Understanding Your Jurisdictional Limits
ASN Hot Tip, December 2009-#1

Most notaries understand that they may perform notarial acts only within the geographic boundaries of their commissioning state. Some notaries, however, get confused about their jurisdictional limits for a variety of reasons.

One misperception we address regularly is the thought that a notary commissioned in state “A” may notarize while geographically located in state “B,” so long as the document is for use in state “A.” The problem here is that the notary does not hold a notarial commission from state “B,” therefore he/she is not authorized to notarize there regardless where the document is to be used.

It doesn’t matter if the document(s) will be recorded in commissioning state “A,” or if the notary is performing services (signing agents, for example) on behalf of a company that is domiciled in state “B.” The notary may notarize only when he/she is within the geographic boundaries of commissioning state “A,” and could only notarize within the geographic boundaries of state “B” if he/she also held a notary commission issued by state “B.”

On that point, there are states that will issue a commission to a non-resident, if that non-resident has regular business or is employed in the commissioning state. But, the recipients of these commissions can notarize only within the geographic boundaries of the commissioning state. Living in one state but being commissioned in another does not give that notary license to notarize in both states.

So, the notary who lives in state “A,” but who works in and holds a commission for neighboring state “B,” may notarize only when geographically located in commissioning state “B.” There are no workarounds to get around the limits of jurisdictional authority.

Questions, comments on this Hot Tip?  Email support@asnnotary.org


Americans Who May Notarize Abroad
ASN Hot Tip, May 2008-#1

The Situation: An American living in England emailed ASN because he needed a notarial act performed over a document in his possession. He wanted the notarial act to be performed by an American notary.

The Client’s Dilemma: How can this person have a notarial act performed over a document by an American notary when he and the document are in England?

The Solution: There are two ways for an American who is visiting or living in a foreign country to have a notarial act performed by an American notary.

Notarizing officer at an American Embassy or Consulate—Any American citizen can contact the American embassy or consulate in the country in which he is located. The embassy or consulate can provide notarial services by a U.S. Department of State consular official who is authorized to provide services as a “notarizing officer.”

The notarizing officer in an American embassy or consulate can take acknowledgments and give oaths or affirmations (including oaths or affirmations over affidavits).

Call the embassy or consulate for an appointment since notarial services are offered only at certain times. There will be a charge of $30 for the first notarial act and $20 for each succeeding notarial act performed at the same time for the same client. The notarial act will be performed at the embassy or consulate.

Notarizing officers must adhere to best notarial practices. They must require the personal appearance of the signer; positively identify the signer; and be assured that the signer understands the contents of the document, the consequences of signing it, and ascertain that the signer is not being coerced.

Military Officer—Americans who are in a foreign country because they are on active military duty, are a dependent of someone on active military duty, or whose civilian employment has to do with military operations in a foreign country may seek the services of a military officer for the performance of a notarial act. The notarial services of a military officer are not available to Americans who do not fall into the above categories.

Like the Department of State notarizing officer, the military officer may take acknowledgments and give oaths or affirmations (including oaths or affirmations over affidavits).

Although there is a long list of those authorized to act as a notary in the military [Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Section 936, Article 136], notarial acts are most likely to be performed by an authorized person in the Staff Judge
Advocate’s Office. The same section of the UCMJ cited above states that there can be no fee charged for the notarial act.

The military officer does not have to affix a seal to the notarial certificate (his signature and statement of his rank are sufficient); nor does he have to state the location where the notarial act was performed (venue).
Questions, comments on this Hot Tip?  Email support@asnnotary.org

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