Alert - New California Notary Law

March 20, 2014

There are new strict requirements for Notary forms implemented by the California Secretary of State.  Effective January 1, 2014, California Civil Code Section 1188 requires that a certificate of acknowledgment form be in exactly the form prescribed under California Civil Code Section 1189.  Previously, the Code required that the certificate of acknowledgment be used in “substantially the form prescribed” in Section 1189.  The Civil Code required previously that jurats be in the exact form as prescribed in Section 1195.

Due to many notaries customizing the certificate of acknowledgment, i.e. in order to account for gender of the signer, the new requirements specifically dictate that the form’s language of “he/she/they” be used, with strike-outs of the inapplicable terms.

In order to stress the importance of using the exact wording of Section 1189, the Secretary of State, in its January 2014 Notary News, stated that it is “critical that [notaries] use the exact wording as prescribed in the current law when completing a certificate of acknowledgement or jurat.  Failure to do so may subject [a notary] to civil penalties in an administrative action brought by the Secretary of State or a public prosecutor in superior court.” 

Please note, the Secretary of State will reject filings for which a certificate of acknowledgment or jurat is required, but which contains wording that is not exactly as prescribed in the statute.  Also of importance, the County Recorder’s Association of California was involved in the revisions of the statutes.  Thus, practitioners may experience rejection of documents from a County Recorder for failure to use the exact wording as required by the Civil Code.

For examples of Secretary of State forms for a certificate of acknowledgment and jurat, please see the Secretary of State website. []


If you have any questions regarding the new notary law and/or its requirements, please contact our office for assistance.