Florida Apostilles: Avoid Common Notarial Errors and Delays

Notarial Errors: The Leading Cause of Rejected Florida Apostilles

Florida apostille notarial errors:  Notaries public in Florida are governed by Florida Statutes Chapter 117, outlining the rules they must follow. While most notaries are conscientious professionals, some are inadequately trained, and even competent notaries can occasionally make mistakes. The Florida Department of State will reject any document with errors in the notarial act. By being aware of these common notarial mistakes, you can avoid delays and ensure a successful Florida Apostille process.

Florida Notary Mistakes

Improper Notarial Acts

Florida notaries are authorized to perform oaths and acknowledgements and certify certain photocopies. However, some notaries use improper or obsolete language or fail to recognize improper notarial language on pre-printed forms.  

A significant 80% of documents submitted to Florida Document Specialists for a Florida apostille contain notarization errors. This alarming statistic can be considerably reduced if Florida notaries take the time to refresh their knowledge of their responsibilities and state procedures. 

Outdated Notarial Language

Proper Florida Notarial Language for an Acknowledgement

In January 2020, Florida modified the language that notaries must use in their oaths and acknowledgements, coinciding with the legalization of remote online notarization (RON).

Some notaries didn’t get the memo and continue to use outdated language. The Florida Department of State will not issue an apostille if the 2020 changes are not part of the notarial language on the document.

Failing to Check Required Boxes or Note Required Information: Current notarial language must specify whether the notarization took place in the notary’s physical presence or was performed online. If the proper box is not checked, the notarial act is invalid.  The phrase “personally appeared” in the notarial language is not the same thing as “physical presence”, because you personally appear on video before an online notary.

No Venue Statement

The venue stating the location of the notary public at the time of the notarization in the format, “State of Florida, County of _____.”   Remember, if applying for a Florida apostille, the document must be notarized by a Florida notary public.

Notarial Language Not in English

A Florida notary may notarize a foreign language document, but the notarial language must be in English.

Identification Type

Proper identification must be presented to the notary or the notary must personally know the signer. If the proper boxes aren’t checked in the notarial block and the type of identification is not noted, the notarial act is not valid.

Online Notarization by Non-Certified Notaries

Some notaries perform their version of “remote online notarization” in Florida without proper authorization. These documents are worthless and will be rejected by the Florida Department of State if submitted for apostille. Only certified Florida online notaries may perform notarizations using audio/video technology.

Florida Apostilles for School Transcripts, Diplomas, and Records

Apostille applications for Florida school records and transcripts frequently face rejection due to improper procedures followed by the school and/or the notary public. Florida notaries public are not allowed to create certified photocopies of public school transcripts in the state, as they are considered public records. The registrar or an authorized individual must sign the transcript while under oath and in the presence of a notary public. Subsequently, the notary public must sign and stamp the document. This original document is then eligible for a Florida apostille. For private schools in Florida, the apostille regulations differ. True-copy notarizations by Florida notaries are accepted for private school documents.

Example Notarial Format for Public School Transcripts

Governor's Reference Manual for Florida Notaries

It is crucial for Florida notaries public to periodically review the Governor’s Reference Manual for Notaries to maintain proficiency in current laws and procedures. This manual serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding the responsibilities and duties of a notary public and ensuring adherence to the state’s legal requirements. Regularly reviewing the manual helps notaries stay updated on any changes in legislation or best practices, minimizing the risk of errors, omissions, or improper notarizations. By maintaining a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations, notaries can provide a higher quality of service, protect the interests of the individuals they serve, and enhance the credibility and integrity of the notarial process.

Regularly reviewing this essential guide will help notaries avoid common mistakes and ensure a smoother apostille process for all parties involved.