Definition of Notary Acts/Terms

Taking Acknowledgements - To take an acknowledgment, the document signer must personally appear before the notary public, and declare that he or she has signed the document voluntarily. “Do you acknowledge that this is your signature and that you are executing this document of your own free will?” 

Administering Oaths
- An oath or affirmation is administered to a document signer when the signer is required to make a sworn statement about certain facts. The signer personally appears before the notary public to swear (or affirm) to the notary public, an officer duly appointed to administer oaths, that the information contained in the document is true. A person who makes a false oath or affirmation is subject to criminal charges for perjury.  Sworn statements are commonly used in affidavits, depositions, and applications.  A notarization requiring an oath begins with the administration of an oath or affirmation.  “Do you swear (or affirm) that the information contained in this document is true?”

Affidavits - An affidavit is a common form of sworn statement requiring an oath.

Depositions - A deposition is the testimony of a witness, under oath or affirmation, taken outside of court in which lawyers ask oral questions of the witness. The testimony is usually reduced to writing and duly authenticated and is intended to be used in a trial of a civil action or a criminal prosecution. The person giving the testimony is called the deponent.  Notaries are authorized to administer an oath for a deposition for use in a court case or an investigation. When administering the oath, the notary must require the deponent’s physical presence and properly identify him or her.  If the notary keeps a journal or record of notarial acts, the journal entry should be made at this point, including the deponent’s signature. The notary would then administer the oath or affirmation, perhaps by having the deponent raise his or her right hand and asking:  Do you swear (or affirm) that the testimony you are about to give in this matter is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so help you, God)?”
Attesting to Photocopies - The document must be an original document. A notary public cannot make an attested photocopy from a photocopy, or from another certified copy.  The document cannot be a public record, certified copies of which are available from another public official.  The making of the photocopy must be supervised by the notary public. It is not sufficient for the notary public to compare the photocopy with the original document. The notary public must actually make the photocopy or supervise another person while he or she makes the photocopy.
Verifying VIN's - Florida law requires that, when applying for a Florida title for the first time on a used motor vehicle, the owner must sign a sworn statement that the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the odometer reading on the vehicle are correct.  Additionally, a physical inspection of the vehicle must be done by an authorized person to certify the VIN. Notaries public are included in the list of persons authorized to certify this information.  § 319.23(3)(a)(2), Fla. Stat.  A form prepared by the department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, HSMV 82042 (Rev. 5/95)S, is used for this purpose.  Part A requires the owner’s sworn statement regarding the correct VIN and odometer reading. A jurat, or notarial certificate, is provided in this section.  The notary should make sure that the information in Part A is complete prior to the notarization.  Part B requires the notary public, or other authorized person, to certify that he or she has physically inspected the vehicle and found the VIN to be identical to the number recorded on the form.  This VIN verification form is also found on the Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration, HSMV 82040 (Rev. 5/96)S. These forms and all other forms related to vehicle registration are available from the tag office of the Tax Collector's Office in each county
Certifying the Contents of a Safe-Deposit Box - Florida law provides that a financial institution may open a safe-deposit box if the rental fee is past due, providing that proper notice has been made and that certain other conditions are met. A notary public is authorized and required to be present for the opening of the safe-deposit box, to inventory the contents of the vault, and to make an appropriate certificate of the opening. The notary is not required to estimate the value of the contents of the safe-deposit box.  The law authorizing notaries to perform this function became effective on July 3, 1992, and is found in section 655.94(1), Florida Statutes.
Procedure for the Notary Public - The notary must be present at the time the safe-deposit box is opened.  An officer of the institution must also be present with the notary at the opening of the safe-deposit box.  When the safe-deposit box is opened, the notary should inventory the contents of the box and should complete a certificate reciting the name of the lessee, the date of the opening, and a list of the contents.  Once the certificate is completed, copies should be made. The notary should place the original certificate in a package with the contents of the safe deposit box and seal the package. The notary must then write on the outside of the package the name of the lessee and the date of the opening.  The notary should leave the sealed package and a copy of the certificate with the financial institution.  If the notary keeps a record book or journal of notarial acts, details of the act should be recorded. It may be a good idea to require the person opening the box, the officer of the institution, and any other witness to sign the journal as well.
Note: A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the person whose signature is being notarized is not in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature is notarized