Understanding the Roles and Limitations of a Notary Public in Virginia

Written by Jose Zefu Kimpalou (Notary Public)

Published on 15 October 2023 12:00

A notary public plays an important role in the legal system, ensuring the authenticity of various documents and transactions. In the state of Virginia, as in many other jurisdictions, notaries public are appointed by the government to perform specific duties. It is important to understand what a notary public can and cannot do in Virginia to ensure the proper execution of documents and compliance with the law.

Lets talk about the most important "Can Do" and "Cannot Do" ...

What a Notary Public Can Do in Virginia:

  1. Notarize Signatures: One of the primary functions of a notary public in Virginia is to notarize signatures. This involves verifying the identity of the individuals signing a document and confirming that they are signing willingly and knowingly. Notarization provides an added layer of security and credibility to important documents, such as contracts, wills, and deeds.

  2. Administer Oaths: Notaries in Virginia can administer oaths or affirmations. This means they can legally affirm that a person has sworn to tell the truth in a statement or testimony. This is especially important in legal proceedings, such as depositions or affidavits.

  3. Certify Copies: Notaries can certify copies of certain documents as true and accurate copies of the original. Common documents that may be certified include diplomas, passports, and various legal papers.

  4. Witness and Attest Documents: In some cases, notaries may witness the signing of documents and add their signature and seal to confirm that they were present when the document was executed. This is often required for documents like wills and powers of attorney.

  5. Verify Identity: Notaries are responsible for verifying the identity of the individuals involved in the transaction. They may request government-issued identification, such as a driver's license or passport, to confirm the identity of the signatories.

What a Notary Public Cannot Do in Virginia:

  1. Offer Legal Advice: Notaries public are not authorized to provide legal advice or legal services. They should refrain from explaining the contents or implications of the documents being notarized. If you have legal questions, it is advisable to consult with an attorney.

  2. Act Partially or Unethically: Notaries must remain neutral and impartial when performing their duties. They should not have a financial or personal interest in the transaction. Notaries should also avoid notarizing a document if they have a personal or professional connection to any of the parties involved.

  3. Notarize Incomplete or Blank Documents: Notaries should never notarize blank or incomplete documents. All documents must be fully executed, with all required information filled in, before notarization can take place.

  4. Notarize Documents with Forged Signatures: It is illegal for a notary to notarize a document with a forged or fraudulent signature. They must confirm the identity of the signatories before notarizing their signatures.


Notaries public in Virginia are essential in maintaining the integrity of legal documents and transactions. They have specific duties and responsibilities that help protect the public from fraud and ensure the authenticity of documents. It's important to understand the roles and limitations of notaries in Virginia to ensure that documents are properly executed and in compliance with the law. If you need legal advice or assistance with the contents of a document, it is recommended to consult with an attorney to avoid any potential legal issues.

Important note:

The above is a non-exhaustive list! If you have a specific question, feel free to reach out!