SD Secretary of State
Administrative Services Overview
Seven Important Concepts to Remember
A notary is to serve any person who
makes a lawful and reasonable request for a notarization.
A notary is an impartial witness to
A notarization does not prove
truthfulness of the contents of a document, nor validate a document and
render it legal.
A notarization provides
verification of a document signer’s willingness to sign, his competence
to sign, and that the signer is, indeed, the person identified by the
If a notary has any doubt about a
signer’s identity, it is best not to notarize that signature.
Notaries are encouraged to utilize
a "credible witness" when in doubt about a person’s identity. A
"credible witness" is any person who personally knows the signer of a
document. The notary should likewise personally know the credible
witness. The credible witness may, under oath from the notary, attest to
the identity of the document signer. Remember, the credible witness
should be impartial to the transaction being notarized.
A notary should never notarize a
signature not made or authenticated in the notary’s presence! This is
the most important rule to protect a notary from legal liability.