The National Notary Association, or NNA, recommends checking with your state to determine the exact requirements to validly notarize a document. However, according to the American Society of Notaries, every state requires the physical presence of the signer with the notary. This is known as the "golden rule."
The requirements for successfully filling out a notarized form are different depending on where you live. However, experts at the NNA recommend a few key things to keep in mind: 1) Make sure every line on your form is filled out. To prevent someone altering the form at a later time, do not leave anything blank. (2) Consider using a blue pen to make it easier to distinguish original forms from copies. (3) Ensure that notary seals do not cover any text or signatures on the document, and affix a second seal if necessary.
In the 21st century, notarization can embody both digital and hard copy forms. However, as highlighted by the American Society of Notaries, the hallmark of every successfully notarized document is that the signer must be physically present before the notary when the document is signed.
Additionally, the NNA points out that you should always double check the information provided by signers who may provide documents in good faith that nevertheless have incorrect information. For example, check to make sure the county listed is actually where the city listed is located. In cases where the document involves a foreign language, the NNA recommends referring the signer to someone who fluently speaks the language to ensure the document is notarized correctly.