What’s the Difference Between a Jurat and an Acknowledgment?

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Since you are here, you are wondering what the heck is the difference between a jurat and an acknowledgment.

Put most simply, these two forms are the most common documents a notary public completes.

Maybe, more importantly, you want to know which form you need? You will be surprised to hear the answer to this question.

This post will hopefully provide you with some clarification for you. 

Before we get started, the information on this site and post are for information. We are not attorneys and should always conduct our own research. With that out of the way, let’s get to it.


What Form Do You Need?

I have said this often, but you would be surprised how many people don’t know. So I’ll repeat it.

Before your appointment, you should know which form your document requires.

You might think a notary will know what form must be completed. And you are probably right, but guess what? We cannot tell you!

It’s important to understand that notaries can tell you what these forms are, as I will do below, but we cannot tell you which form you need. 

This is very important to understand. No notary (at least in the state of California) is allowed to tell you what form you need.

Doing this is a violation of the unauthorized practice of law, which includes:

  • Giving advice about a document a customer needs
  • Recommending the type of notarization required
  • Offering an opinion about the legality or effect of a document

How do you fix this?

Sometimes, and most often, the form to be notarized has a box for the notary stamp. There is wording there that allows you and the notary to understand what is needed.

But what if the document didn’t come with a notarization box? And you weren’t told which form you need?

The easiest thing, and always recommended, is to contact the person requesting the notarization and ask them.

Most often, this is a simple phone call to the requesting person. They will tell you if you need an acknowledgment or jurat.

Now the question is what these two forms are. Let’s cover that next.

The Acknowledgment

In its simplest form, an acknowledgment identifies the signer in front of them. The notary will have the signer acknowledge that they signed the document.

It’s important to note that you can, in this case, sign the document before the notarization.

If you want to err on the side of caution, I suggest waiting until the notary appointment to sign anything. 

The Jurat

As stated above, the notary must, as always, identify the singer. But this time, the notary will have the signer swear or affirm that the statements in the document are true. 

Often the notary will have you raise your right hand while doing this.

Additionally, unlike the acknowledgment, The notary must also watch the person sign the document.

Fun Fact: Notaries should already know this, but if you are wondering which certificate you need, the easy way to tell the difference is the words “solemnly swear” or “affirm,” which indicates you need to complete a jurat. But again, you should always contact the requesting person to confirm this.

Make Your Appointment Easier

This will make your life easier and the notary’s life easier.

To ensure you have a smooth appointment, the first thing you need to understand is that you must ALWAYS personally appear in front of the notary.

Understandably, sometimes this might be difficult. That is why there are people like me that are mobile notaries. Meaning we come to you. 

Just be aware if you use a mobile notary, there might be an extra charge for this service, which will be discussed before the appointment and is for travel expenses, i.e., gas.

Not only should you also be aware of what form you need for your document, but you should also have a current form of ID.

The most common form of ID would be your California driver’s License.

Summing it up

Hopefully, you now understand what an acknowledgment and jurat forms are and their differences.

If you don’t know which form you need, I hope it’s clear that a notary cannot tell you. And that you know, a simple phone call and sort this out or going to the person requiring the notarization should tell you what is needed.

If you still have any questions feel free to send me an email.

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