According to The Law Dictionary, getting a document notarized requires taking it to a notary public, showing proof of identity for everyone who needs to sign the document and signing it in front of the notary. The notary places a seal on the document, along with the notary's signature and credentials, to prove that the execution of the document was witnessed by a public officer.
As explained by the American Society of Notaries, each state has its own laws that govern notarizing a document or other notarial services. A notary public is an individual who has been licensed by the state as a public officer with the authority to verify identity, perform oaths, affirmations and acknowledgments, and witness signatures. Notaries do not provide legal advice or confirm the veracity of documents. A notary public simply verifies that the document signers are identified correctly.
Most states require the document signers to sign in the physical presence of the notary, as noted by the Washington State Department of Licensing. Each signer must have a current federal or state government-issued form of identification that includes a photograph, signature and physical description. The most commonly used forms of identification are driver's licenses and passports. Banks, financial services companies, law firms and real estate agencies typically have at least one staff member who is licensed as a notary to facilitate document-based transactions.