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  • Writer's pictureBrian Klein

Can a Notary Refuse My Notarization Request?

Updated: Apr 23

Business person refusing service to a client.

Notaries are always looking to serve the members of their local communities in their time of need. We're here to help! While we are generally expected to provide our services to the public without prejudice, there are specific instances where refusal of service is permitted under notarial law. In this blog post, we'll examine these instances, providing examples along the way to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities. On the flip side, we'll also take a look at some instances when notaries should NOT be refusing you service.

Please keep in mind, this guide is simply an overview and notarial law can vary from state to state.


  • Lack of physical presence: If the signer is not physically present before the notary - either in person or on camera for an online notarization, the request should be refused.

Example: The signer of a document sends a friend or relative to the notary's office to have the document notarized.

  • Insufficient Identification: One of the primary reasons a notary may refuse services is if the client presents insufficient or invalid identification. Notaries are required to verify the identity of signers to prevent fraud and ensure the integrity of the documents being notarized.

Example: Signer cannot produce a current, government issued, photo ID, is not personally known to the notary nor is a credible witness available.

  • Lack of Capacity or Understanding & Coercion: Part of a notary's duties is to ensure that clients have the capacity to understand the documents they are signing and are doing so of their own free will. If a client appears to be mentally incapacitated or unable to comprehend the nature of the transaction, a notary may refuse services to protect the signer's interests.

Example: An elderly individual arrives at a notary office accompanied by someone who seems to be pressuring them to sign documents quickly without explanation. The notary may refuse services until they are satisfied that the client understands the documents and is signing willingly.

  • Conflict of Interest: Notaries are required to maintain impartiality and avoid conflicts of interest at all times. If a notary has a personal or financial interest in the transaction or is related to one of the parties involved, they should refuse services to maintain their impartiality.

Example: A notary is asked to notarize a will for a family member or friend in which the notary is a beneficiary or the notary's spouse is a beneficiary.

  • Incomplete or Incorrect Documents: Notaries are not responsible for creating or correcting documents. If a client presents documents that are incomplete, incorrect, or improperly filled out, a notary may refuse services until the documents are rectified.

Example: A client brings in a power of attorney document with missing pages or blanks that need to be filled out. The notary should inform the client of the issues and request corrected documents before proceeding with the notarization.

  • Signer Requests a Certified Copy of a Vital Record: Many states do not permit notaries to certify copies of vital records such as birth, death and marriage certificates. Copies of these documents should be requested from the office where they originate in your area.

  • Signer Unwillingness: If a client is unwilling to swear or affirm the contents of the document(s) for notarizations that require an oath or affirmation, the request can be refused. Also, if the document does not contain a notarial certificate and the signer cannot or will not instruct the notary which type of notary act they would like to have performed, the notary may refuse the request.

If the signer refuses or is unwilling to pay the required fee for services, the notarization can be refused.

  • Illegal or Fraudulent Activities: Notaries are prohibited from participating in illegal or fraudulent activities. If a notary suspects that a document is forged, contains false information, or is part of a fraudulent scheme, they should refuse services and may report their suspicions to the appropriate authorities.


  • Signer Biases: Signers must not be refused notary services based on the signer's personal characteristics such as: age, race, sex or gender, nationality or national origin, religion, lifestyle and disability.

  • Controversial Documents: Notaries should not refuse notarization of documents where they may may have a personal or religious disagreement. Examples include: same-sex marriages, abortion, use of medical marijuana or assisted suicide, among others.

  • Notary Law vs Best Practice: If a signer refuses to sign the notary's journal or provide a thumbprint in the notary's journal and such activities are not required by notary law in your state, the notary should not refuse service.

In summary, while notaries are generally available to provide their services to the public, there are important instances where they can and should refuse services. There are also instances where notaries should NOT refuse service. Blue Ink Notary is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, ensuring that notarizations are conducted ethically and in compliance with legal requirements!


Blue Ink Notary, based in Greater Reading and serving Berks County as well as Lancaster, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, has been helping numerous Pennsylvania residents and businesses get their documents notarized since 2019. I am generally available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm but am also available for emergency early morning, evening & weekend appointments to help you with your documents, so contact me any time with questions. 

To discuss your notary needs:

📲 Call or text 484-509-1405 

🖥️ Visit online at and message us in our chat box in the lower right corner of your screen or visit the Contact Us page.

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