Part of starting a startup with a foreign partner is notarizing documents. Some documents are in non English language. The documents need to be notarized in the US. I contacted some notaries and received different answers. Some said they only notarize the signature and don't care about the document language and some did not want to notarize a document if they can't read it.
I am not sure who is correct. I feel their answers reflect personal attitudes rather than professional or legal ones.
Isn't the notary's job to verify that the signature is the one who signed it with verification of person's ID or it goes further to the document too? Do they need to understand what is in a document to notarize it? The question is from the professional side. I understand they can refuse serving any clients as they desire.
So far as my knowledge goes and as it is in practice here, Notary are not concerned with the content. They are concern with the identity of the person signing it. If you can establish the identity, sign on the documents in front of him, the Notary should have no problem in notarizing the signature. It is an evidence that you have signed the documents. No link with the content whatsoever.
In general, Yes. the notary is primarily responsible for confirming the identify of the individual who is signing a document. If that is all you are seeking, then find a notary who limits their role to that. But that is not the whole story!
In the United States, a notary is licensed on a sate by state basis. The specific roles and responsibilities of the notary are different in each state. Here is a link to the state regulations.
As with most profesisonal, a professional association has emerged. One of the tasks the association takes on is the development of a code of conduct. You can see it here.
As you will note -- the #4 item on the code of conduct is:
The Notary shall not execute a false or incomplete certificate, nor beEach Notary can interpret that in a variety of ways. Some will approach it with a "don't ask-don't tell" policy of focusing on the "believes is . . " clause. Meaning only if they know it to be false or incomplete as opposed to needed to know it is not false and that it is complete.
involved with any document or transaction that the Notary believes is
false, deceptive or fraudulent.
The bottom line is whether the Notary is legally responsible to that principle-- or is ethically bound to that principle will be determined by the individual and the state that they are in.
Each state has different rules that the Notary must follow. As a Notary Public in PA, it is true that I do not have to understand the document. However,
1.I must verify that the person is the person who is supposed to sign the document. For example, if you are signing for someone as Power of Attorney then you must present the original power of Attorney. I can't assume that because you state you have POA that you do.
2. The document must be complete. It cannot be a blank document that you complete later. This is because you are stating everything is true & correct. Also, prevents fraud & goes with the whole thing that I cannot notarized anything I think may be fraudlent.
3. I cannot notarized a document that prints out with your signature and the notary on a page with no verbage. Sometimes documents print out where the signature falls on a page by itself. I cannot notarized a page where you are not making statement. If the pages are numbered & references the previous pages there is a slim chance I may do it.
In Hawaii, the notary is responsible to read the document, so foreign languages are noted to find the right one when translation is an issue.