An acknowledgment certificate indicates that the signer:
a) personally appeared before the Notary,
b) was identified by the Notary, and
c) acknowledged to the Notary that the document was freely signed.
Contrary to popular belief, documents requiring acknowledgments do not need to be signed in the notary’s presence in most states even though the latter would be highly preferred whenever possible.
The confusion comes from the fact that the signer must appear before the Notary at the time of notarization to acknowledge that he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document.
Documents requiring a jurat must be signed in the Notary’s presence, as dictated by the typical jurat wording, “Subscribed (signed) and sworn to before me…”
In executing a jurat, a notary guarantees that the signer:
a) personally appeared before the notary,
b) was given an oath or affirmation by the notary, and finally
c) signed in the Notary’s presence.
While it is important for a notary to understand the difference between an acknowledgment and a jurat, notaries public are not allowed to determine which type of certificate a signer uses. To do so would be considered practicing law without a license.
A notary can only ask the signer which form they prefer. If they don’t know, the notary will refer them to the source of the document for an answer.
An alternative for a signer who cannot ascertain which certificate to use would be to ask the notary to affix both types which is a perfectly acceptable request.
To summarize, the key difference between a jurat vs acknowledgment is that the former is used primarily when dealing with sworn statements and the latter typically applies to documents that must be signed in front of an unbiased independent witness aka the notary. To book an appointment instantly or to get a quote please click here.