What is a notary public?

A notary public is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters typically concerned with powers-of-attorney, estates, foreign and international business and deeds. A notary’s primary duties are to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate the execution of certain classes of documents and take acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances. The term notary public only refers to common-law notaries and should not be confused with civil-law notaries.

The main purpose of a notary public is to verify identity and reduce the probability of fraud. The primary role of a notary public is to serve the public as an impartial witness when important documents are signed. In the United States, a notary public is appointed by a state government. In California’s case this is the Secretary of State. The California Secretary of State, Notary Public & Special Filings Section, is responsible for appointing and commissioning qualified persons as notaries public for four-year terms. You can find out more information on the Secretary of State’s website: http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/notary/