Effective January 1, 2015, a new consumer notice is required of all documents requiring a notary certificate in California. The notice needs to be displayed in a box at the top of the certificate, to read:

“A Notary Public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document.” [Calif. Civil Code §1189]

If your document requiring notarization does not adhere to the new requirements, there’s about a 30% chance it will be rejected by the county recorder, according to a recent survey by the Notary Bulletin.

Nearly all of the survey respondents (95%) said they have rejected documents when the consumer notice was simply missing. Other commonly reported reasons for rejection include:

  • the consumer notice was in the incorrect location on the form, such as below the signature line (76%); and
  • the consumer notice was floating and not anchored in a box separate from the body of the notary certificate (74%).

Less common, though still legitimate, reasons for rejection include:

  • the consumer notice was illegible or impossible to read (37%);
  • the consumer notice was attached to the recordable document using an adhesive label (16%); and
  • the updated language of the consumer notice was manually handwritten onto the face of the document (13%).

There are 58 counties in California, and each interprets the nuances of these new requirements a little differently. Some counties are very stringent and inflexible, such as those who reject a notice that is difficult to read, while others are more accommodating. Thus, the rejection rate across California’s 58 counties is wildly divergent, with some recorders rejecting 30% of documents, and others rejecting as few as 5%.

What’s your best bet to ensure your transaction is not a causality of these new requirements? Get your forms from a trusted source. All first tuesday forms have been updated to comply with the consumer notice requirement. Common forms used in real estate transactions requiring a notary certificate include the:

All 26 first tuesday forms containing the new notary certificate may be downloaded at no cost from the View and download new and updated forms tab on the Forms Download page.

Alternatively, if you’re already working on an older, noncompliant form, use the separate first tuesday Form 407, Acknowledgment By Notary Public – Notary Consumer Disclosure, and attach it to any document requiring notarization in lieu of the boilerplate notary acknowledgement. [Calif. CC §1188]

Has your county recorder rejected any of the forms you were trying to record, delaying your transaction? Share your experiences in the comments below!