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Why does the notary refuse to notarize my document?

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Some people have taken the position that a notary public may not refuse any legitimate request for notary services. An argument could be made that because notaries are public officers, they have a duty to be reasonably available to the general public.

However, there are many situations in which a notary may refuse to notarize a document for you according to the law or under other circumstances. For example, suppose a notary suspects that the signer is being coerced or that the transaction may be illegal. But the refusal reasons are difficult to explain. Here are some occasions when a notary is prohibited to notarize:

  • the signer is not physically present (remote online notarization excludes);

  • the document is incomplete or blank;

  • the notary is the signer;

  • the signer is the notary's spouse, parent, or child;

  • the signer has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated and has not been restored to capacity as a matter of record;

  • the notary does not personally know the signer and the signer cannot provide satisfactory evidence of identification;

  • the notary is a party to the underlying transaction or has a financial interest in it;

  • the signer does not speak English and there is no one available to translate the document into a language the signer understands;

  • the document does not have a prepared notary certificate, and the signer cannot tell the notary what notarial act is required;

  • the notary believes that the signer is being coerced or does not understand the consequences of signing the document;

  • the signer appears to be drunk, sedated, or disoriented;

  • the notary knows or suspects that the transaction is illegal, false, or deceptive;

  • if the document is not “original,” bearing the signer’s original, wet-ink signature.

In addition to the situations described above, a notary may refuse to perform a notarization in a variety of circumstances, such as when:

  • the date of the document is later than the day of notarization

  • the signer cannot pay the notary's fee for services;

  • it is before or after the notary's regular office hours;

  • it is a holiday;

  • the notary is busy with other work or activities;

  • the notary would be inconvenienced;

  • the notary is sick;

  • the notary is not comfortable with the request;

  • the signer is a minor; or

  • the notary is requested to travel to another location.


American Notary Service Center Inc. provides fair, fast, confidential, and professional document notarization and certification services for our clients. We also provide various assistance services to small businesses led by socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Our service helps small businesses obtain federal government contracts, gain a foothold in the market, and boost their sales. For more information, please visit our website at, and contact us by calling 202-599-0777 or by email at

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