Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado Secretary
of State Jena Griswold

Colorado Secretary of State logo - Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold

Picture of Secretary of State Jena Griswold

Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Secretary of State
Jena Griswold


Notary Public FAQs

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Common mistakes to avoid

1. No notarial certificate (Jurat)

Remember: Colorado notary law requires that a complete notary certificate appear on the document whenever a notarization is performed. When a person goes before a notary public for a notarization, the notary generally performs one of the following notarial acts [1]

  • Administers an oral oath or affirmation to the person,
  • Takes an acknowledgement from that person regarding either the previous execution of a document or execution in front of the notary,
  • Certifies a copy of an original document,
  • Witnesses a signature, or
  • Takes a verification on oath or affirmation, e.g., witnesses the person sign an affidavit or other document containing an oath or affirmation.

The complete notary certificate must include:

  • The county and state in which the notarization took place,
  • The date of the notarization,
  • The type of notarial act performed by the notary. This is indicated by language such as "sworn and subscribed", "signed and affirmed", "acknowledged", or certification language found in the statutes, [2]
  • The notary must also include his or her official signature and his or her stamp, and
  • Title of office, i.e., “Notary public”.

Important: Notary stamps must be rectangular ink stamps with an outline or border and include the:

  • Notary's legal name,
  • Words "NOTARY PUBLIC",
  • Notary's ID number, and
  • Notary's commission expiration date.

2. Notarial certificate incomplete or incorrect

It is important to carefully read over the notarial certificate to ensure that all required information is complete and correct.

  • Notaries commonly make the mistake of inserting their own name in the certificate instead of the name of the person who has come before them to sign a document.
    • Example: “Subscribed and affirmed before me this ___day of ___20__ by (client’s name – not the notary’s name)….”
  • The notarial certificate must be in English.
  • The notary has the client sign the notary journal in his/her presence but does not have the client sign the affirmation statement (document) in his or her presence. However, the notary’s certificate states that the affirmation was signed and affirmed before him or her. This makes the certificate an inaccurate statement. The signature of the client must appear on the document, above the certificate.

Be Careful: The notarization is often included within the client’s document, and there are blanks for the notary to fill in his/her name. Be sure to read these types of documents carefully, as some statements that you may be putting your name to may be outside of your authority as a notary. In fact, you would become a party to the document.

3. Do not notarize Federal Form I-9

The Form I-9 is not required to be notarized, nor is there a place on the document to be notarized.

Employers may designate an authorized representative to fill out Forms I-9 on behalf of their company, including personnel officers, foremen, agents or notary public. The Department of Homeland Security does not require the authorized representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. If an authorized representative fills out Form I-9 on behalf on the employer, the employer is still liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process.

When completing Form I-9, the employer or authorized representative must physically examine, with the employee being physically present, each document presented to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it. Reviewing or examining documents via webcam is not permissible.

If the authorized representative refuses to complete Form I-9 (including providing a signature) another authorized representative may be selected. If the employer hires a notary public, the notary public is acting as an authorized representative of the employer, not as a notary. The notary public must perform the same required actions as an authorized representative. When acting as an authorized representative, the notary public should not provide a notary seal on Form I-9.

4. Failure to use official notary name within a notarial certificate

Always use your official notary name in any statement which requires the notary public’s name. The notary’s official name can be found on the notary’s certificate of commission.

Example: Official notary public name is Jane A Doe, and the notary writes, “I, Jane Doe, notary public in and for said county and state…” This is wrong because in this case, the notary’s official name includes the middle initial.

Points to remember:

  • Be sure to sign all notarizations with a consistent signature. The notary’s signature must be the same as shown on file with the Colorado Secretary of State on the notary's signed application form. You can access the signature on your record.
  • You are responsible for using a notary stamp that complies with Colorado’s notary law, RULONA. It is important to read the statute regarding the way the stamp should look and what information should be on the stamp. Be sure to proofread the stamp upon delivery. The name must match your legal name as it appears on your certificate of commission, and the required notary ID number and commission expiration date must be exactly correct. The provision, keeping, and use of notary seal embossers are prohibited.

5. Stay informed

Most importantly, take time to read the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S. 24-21-501, et seq.) regarding notaries public. The information contained within the statutes will govern everything you do in the state of Colorado as a notary public. Refer to it often, especially when notarizing.

[1] | 24-21-505, C.R.S.
[2] | 24-21-516, C.R.S.