Guide to Bank Notaries and What They Do

By Rebecca Lake · October 18, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Guide to Bank Notaries and What They Do

Notaries witness the signing of legal and financial documents and certify them as being valid. If you need to have documents notarized (say, you are working your way through mortgage paperwork), you may be able to have that done at your bank or credit union.

A bank notary can review your documents with you, verify the identity of all signers, and witness the signing. In other words, they can help you make your paperwork official. Do all banks have a notary? Not necessarily, but many financial institutions offer this service to their customers, typically for free.

Learn more about what a bank notary is, when you might need their services, where else to find a notary public, and how much getting a document notarized will likely cost.

What Is a Bank Notary?

A notary or notary public is an appointed official who’s authorized by the state government to witness the signing of documents and verify the validity of the signatures. It’s a notary’s job to ensure that the signers of a document are not acting under duress and that they are who they say they are.

A bank notary performs those services in a banking setting. Like other notaries, bank notaries must complete the required training that’s mandated by state law in order to receive a commission.

Any bank employee who meets the eligibility requirements can complete notary training. This can include tellers, loan officers, or investment bankers. When picking a bank, you might want to check to see if notaries are available. It can be convenient to have that service available at your financial institution when the need for a notary crops up.

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How Notarization Works

When a document is notarized, it means that it’s been reviewed by and signed in front of a notary. Notarization is designed to ensure that the document and the signatures on it are not fraudulent and that the individuals who sign do so of their own free will and are not under duress.

The notarization process involves three steps:

•  It starts with the initial review of the document and vetting of the signers. If you take a document to a bank notary to be signed, they’ll check your ID (and the ID of any other signers present), and ask questions to make sure you know what you’re signing and that you’re not being pressured or forced to do so.

•  Next, the notary will look at the document itself to ensure that it meets the requirements for notarization. For example, some states require that documents being notarized have no blank spaces in order to prevent fraud.

•  Once the notary verifies your identity and scans the document, you’ll sign it in front of them. They’ll then complete a notarial certificate, add their seal to the document, and record the notarization.

There is one thing notaries cannot do, and that’s offer legal or financial advice.

What Do Bank Notaries Do?

Bank notaries are responsible for notarizing documents for the bank’s customers. Credit unions can also employ notaries to notarize documents. It’s one of the benefits of local banking.

But what do banks notarize? There are several different types of notarizations that banks can handle.

Jurats

A jurat is a type of notarial act that applies to documents relating to civil or criminal proceedings. You may need a bank notary for a jurat notarization if you’re signing something like a financial affidavit for a divorce proceeding. A financial affidavit is an official statement of your income, assets, and debts. A court can use that document as a guide when determining what to award in child support or alimony.

Certified Copies

Bank notaries can issue notarizations for certified copies of official documents. For example, say that after getting divorced you started a new job and began contributing to a 401(k). You later change jobs and want to cash out the money that you saved in the plan. Your 401(k) plan manager might ask for a certified copy of a divorce decree before releasing the money to you.

Acknowledgements

An acknowledgement notarization may be required for documents that specify the transfer of assets or financial authority from one person to another. For example, say that your aging mother wants to name you their power of attorney as part of the estate planning process. A bank notary could certify the document and witness both your signatures in acknowledgement that the two of you have an agreement and no one is acting under duress.

Are Bank Notaries Free?

Notaries can charge fees for their services, but banks may offer notarization for free to their customers. So, if you have a checking account, savings account, or CD account with the bank, you should be able to get notarization services without paying anything. Or if you have a share draft account at a credit union, you might get notary services for free.

Can a bank notarize a document for someone who is not a customer? Certainly, but you might pay a fee to get a document notarized if you don’t have an account there. The good news is that notary services typically aren’t that expensive.

What you’ll pay for notary services, if you have to pay, will depend on state law. Each state has its own guidelines for what notaries can charge and there may be different fees for different types of notarial acts. Generally speaking, you may pay anywhere from $2.50 to $25 to have a document notarized if you’re not able to get it done for free at your bank.

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How Do You Know If Your Bank Has a Notary?

Do banks have notaries? Yes, but not all of them. It’s possible that your bank may not offer notary services. Fortunately, there are a few ways to find out whether your bank has a notary. For instance, you could:

•  Ask in person at a branch

•  Call, email, or otherwise contact your local branch

•  Check the bank’s website

•  Review your account agreement.

What if you have accounts at an online bank? You won’t be able to visit a branch to get documents notarized in person, though your bank might offer electronic notarization online. That’s something to consider if you’re debating whether to choose traditional vs. online banking to manage your money.

Other Places to Find a Notary

Banks are not the only place that you can get notary services. If you need to get a document notarized and your bank doesn’t offer notary services, you can also try:

•  Office supply stores

•  Shipping or mailing stores

•  Law firms or law offices

•  Accountant or tax preparer’s offices

•  Real estate offices

•  Local Department of Motor Vehicles office

•  Insurance agencies

•  AAA

•  Public libraries.

Again, just keep in mind that you might have to pay a fee to get a document notarized at any of these locations.

You may be able to find an independent notary near you who is willing to travel to your home or workplace to notarize documents. There are also remote notary services that offer electronic notarization, though these may not be considered valid in every state.

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The Takeaway

A bank notary isn’t something you might need on a regular basis, but it’s good to know that you have access to one if you have a document that requires notarization. If you’re shopping for a new bank and don’t necessarily need branch banking, you might consider taking your accounts online.

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FAQ

What is bank notarization?

Bank notarization is the process of getting documents notarized at a bank. A bank notary can complete different notarial acts to certify the signature of legal or financial documents. Bank notarization is often offered free of charge to banking customers.

Can local banks notarize documents?

Local banks can notarize documents if they have at least one notary on staff. Bank notaries, like other notaries, must receive a commission from the state in order to witness signatures and certify them on documents.

Where can I get notarized for free?

You can likely get documents notarized for free at your bank if the bank offers that service to customers. If you get documents notarized at other locations, such as shipping stores or office supply stores, you may have to pay a fee for notarization services.



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