Since the 2002 Model Notary Act introduced the new notarial act of “verification of fact”, two states have enacted it into law: Virginia and Wyoming.
The Commonwealth of Virginia is the first state in the country to authorize the verification of fact as a notarial power. This involves a notary directly accessing public or vital records to confirm or validate a signer’s identity credentials or to confirm facts about an individual’s identity or authorization. A notary may also access public records to confirm facts about such matters as corporate status, date of birth, or date of marriage.
Definition of Verification of fact
In Virginia, "Verification of fact" means a notarial act in which a notary reviews public or vital records to
(i) ascertain or confirm facts regarding a person's identity, identifying attributes, or authorization to access a building, database, document, network, or physical site or
(ii) validate an identity credential on which satisfactory evidence of identity may be based.
How to perform Verification of fact
In performing a verification of fact, notaries may visit a pertinent office that houses public, vital, or other records to ascertain the needed facts, or accept a record from an individual. Clearly, the former option is preferred, but notaries are given discretion in the latter case to assess the trustworthiness of any record presented. The notary is well-advised to positively identify the presenter, and to inspect the proffered record for evidence of tampering or counterfeiting, much like a notary inspects identification credentials presented by principals.
Verification of Fact Certificate
A notary shall use a certificate in substantially the following form in verifying a fact or facts :
[State] of __________
[County] of ________
On this _______ day of ___________, 20___, I certify that I have reviewed the following record(s) or data,
at the following office, Internet or electronic system locations, respectively,
or upon the record(s) being presented to me by , and hereby verify the following respective fact(s) as stated in these records:
(official signature and seal of notary)
The Model Notary Act provides a certificate for the notary to complete in performing a verification of fact. This type of notarial act can be used to confirm data on vital records such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, thereby certifying information often needed for the adoption of a foreign child.
While, in the interest of fraud deterrence, it is preferable that such records be reviewed by the notary in the offices of the records’ duly designated public custodians (e.g., bureau of vital statistics or office of the county clerk), the form also allows the notary to review records presented by a private individual. It is left to the discretion of the relying third party as to whether such records are trustworthy.
Unlike other notarial certificates, this certificate need not be attached to another document. The certificate constitutes a complete notarial act in and of itself. It does not require the notarization of a signature and it need not be completed in the presence of the requester of fact.
Although Virginia notaries are allowed to perform "verification of fact", the official handbook recommends that notaries should keep the following things in mind:
Virginia notaries may perform their duties outside of the Commonwealth if the document is for use in the Commonwealth.
In necessary cases, a child’s signature may be notarized. The required proof of the identity of a child is the same as an adult.
Virginia notaries may notarize powers of attorney and wills.
Virginia notaries are not authorized to certify true copies of birth, death, or marriage certificates. Only the Division of Vital Records/Statistics may perform such a certification.
Virginia notaries are not authorized to certify true copies of court issued documents.
Virginia notaries are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.
A Virginia notary is not authorized to notarize his/her own signature.
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