Illinois notaries public are individuals of proven integrity who are appointed by the Illinois Secretary of State for a four-year term. Their purpose is to serve as public officials and unbiased witnesses to the signing of important documents. An Illinois notary’s signature and notary seal on a document assures the party receiving the document that the identities of the individuals named in the document have been confirmed by the notary and that the document was executed on the date printed on the notarial certificate.
Authorized Notarial Duties
An Illinois notary’s authorized duties are referred to as “notarial acts.” An Illinois notary is authorized to perform notarial acts anywhere within the boundaries of the state of Illinois.
There are four primary notarial acts that Illinois notaries public are authorized to perform:
- Taking an acknowledgement
- Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation
- Witnessing or attesting a signature
- Administering an oath or affirmation
Illinois notaries may also perform other duties as explicitly authorized by law, but it is these primary four duties that will be outlined in the sections to follow.
Taking an acknowledgment.
An “acknowledgment” is a declaration by an individual that they have executed an instrument for the purposes stated therein. In an acknowledgement, the signer does not have to sign the document in the physical presence of the notary. The document may have been signed prior to bringing it to the notary. Your duty as an Illinois notary is to:
- Confirm the signer’s identity.
- Determine the signer’s competency and ability to understand the consequences of signing the document.
- Perform the notarial act by asking the signer to acknowledge signing the document for the purposes expressed in it.
- Complete an acknowledgment notarial certificate.
- Record the notarial act in your notary journal.
- Sign and affix your notary stamp.
Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation.
For a verification upon oath or affirmation, the individual appears before the notary to swear or affirm that a statement on a document is true. The primary difference between an oath and an affirmation is that in an oath, one “swears” and invokes a deity when declaring the truth of a statement, and in an affirmation, one “affirms,” without invoking a deity, that a statement is true.
Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation involves a verbal ceremony. Although the script for this ceremony is not explicitly prescribed by law, the notary must ask the signer to swear or affirm that the statement they are signing is true. To do so, the notary might, for instance, ask the signer, “Do you swear (or affirm) that the statements in this document are true?” The individual making the oath or affirmation will then answer something to the effect of, “I do.”
Unlike with an acknowledgement, the signer must sign the document in the presence of the notary.
Witnessing or attesting a signature.
An Illinois notary public may sometimes be called upon to witness or attest a signature. In this case, the client must personally appear before the notary and sign the document in the presence of that notary. The notary will then complete a notarial certificate that says the document was “signed (or subscribed or attested)” before him or her on a particular date at a particular location.
Administering an Oath or Affirmation
This is an uncommon notarial duty, but Illinois notaries public may at some point be called upon to administer a verbal oath or affirmation to an individual. For example, an Illinois notary maybe asked to:
- Administer a verbal oath to a witness in a court proceeding.
- Administer an oath of office to a public official.
It is essential for a notary to perform their duty according to Illinois notary law and to perform only those notarial acts authorized by law. An Illinois notary public is not authorized to solemnize marriages, to perform copy certifications of any document, or to offer legal advice.
The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994. We are your one-stop resource for all your notary needs. We can help you to become an Illinois notary or to renew your Illinois notary commission from start to finish.
Click here to learn how to become a notary in Illinois or how to renew your notary commission.