A notary stamp or seal verifies the authentication and certification of legal documents, property titles, parental consent forms, and other important documents.
They help detect and deter document fraud, protecting the personal property of private citizens against exploiters and identity thieves.
From state to state, the requirements of notary stamps and seals differ. While some states demand that notaries only use inked stamps, others require the use of a notary seal embosser combined with an inked notary stamp.
Other states permit notaries to make use of either.
It’s common for notary stamps and seals to be used interchangeably. Laws may favor one type or specify what information must be included on each, depending on your state.
But what distinguishes a notary seal from a notary stamp?
Today, we’ll find that out as we learn some interesting facts about both stamps and seals. We’ll also share some examples of professionally crafted notary stamps and seals to help you choose the right product for the job at hand.
1 - Notary Stamps and Seals Date Back to Ancient Rome
The origin of the notary stamp can be traced back to ancient Rome. Illiteracy was widespread at the time, so the notarius (equivalent of notary public) was given the responsibility of preparing important documents such as:
- Tax documents
- Property contracts
The notary would ensure the authenticity of the people signing these documents and would receive a commission for the job.
To affix signatures to the documents, the notary would use a metal or ceramic dye. The signature would then be sealed with wax.
Eventually, this signature would evolve into what we know today as the rubber stamp.
Today, there are several choices when it comes to stamps. For instance, an invention in the 1970s brought about the self-inking stamp.
The self-inking stamp is made of rubber and reinks itself after every stamp. It does so by rotating around an internal inkpad loaded on a spring.
Below are images of both the self-inking and traditional rubber stamps offered by Pro Stamps.
A self-inking stamp is convenient and easy to use. But even with the evolution of rubber stamps, the classic rubber stamp is still preferred by many due to its natural beauty and precision.
The table below shows the difference between a classic rubber stamp and a self-inking stamp.
|Classic Rubber Stamp
|Has a refillable ink pad that is pressure activated
|Must be manually touched to an inked pad for each stamp
|Stamp body is made of plastic materials
|Handle and base can be made of plastic or wood
|Ideal for rapid, repetitive stamping
|Ideal for when you need to alternate colors
|Creates a clean, crisp impression
|The natural beauty is still unrivaled
At Pro Stamps, we offer high quality traditional and self-inking rubber stamps. No matter which state you’re offering services in, our professionally cut stamps are customized to meet all state requirements.
2 - Both Notary Stamp and Seal Serve the Same Purpose
The term notary stamp and notary seal are often confusing since they’re used interchangeably to refer to each other.
A notary stamp is a rubber stamp with an inked emblem bearing the notary public’s name, state, and date of commission. It can be rectangular or circular depending on the state requirements.
For instance, a Montana notary stamp has to be rectangular, while in Hawaii it must be round. In Florida you can choose between round and rectangular.
A notary seal, on the other hand, is a clamping device (or digital imprinting tool) that contains the notary’s commission information. If the physical application is used, it leaves a raised or embossed mark on the document to show the seal's not been forged. The digital version uses a watermark to the same effect.
Since the details embossed on a document are not easily visible, some states like Arizona and California require notary seals to be used alongside inked notary stamps to ensure that all information is visible.
Seals give a more professional and official look to notarized documents. Notary stamps, however, are easy to use, and the impressions are clearly visible on photocopied documents.
As a notary, the tool you use depends on the state laws you’re working under. Familiarizing yourself with the laws on notary stamp requirements in your state will go a long way in ensuring you’re well prepared.
Expert Tip: Your notary stamp and seal are your responsibility and must be under your exclusive control at all times.
If it is used to commit fraud, you’ll have to prove in court that you didn’t perform the notarial act. This can be both costly and frustrating since you’ll have to involve an attorney.
You must also avoid posting images of your embossing seal or ink stamp online as fraudsters can use the details to create fake documents and appear notarized.
3 - Digital Notary Stamps Are Legally Binding
The introduction of electronic notarization has made remote notarization significantly more popular. This has a lot to do with the convenience of accelerated services and less paperwork.
An electronic seal is formatted as a JPEG, PDF, TIFF, or PNG document. Its layout is exactly the same as it would be on a rubber stamp or seal embosser.
Although it might seem more convenient, electronically notarized documents are more prone to security risks. Because of this, all electronically notarized documents must bear a digital signature to ensure that the document is genuine.
A digital signature binds the notary to a document. Once a digital signature has been applied to a document, the notary cannot deny having notarized it.
To be legally binding, the image of a seal must be applied to the electronic document. The data from the digital signature is then embedded in the image using a mathematical algorithm to ensure that each document has its own unique signature.
Below is an example image of how the stamp would appear on an electronically notarized document.
A digital notary stamp includes the date and time the document was notarized, and comes with a unique private key that only the notary public has access to.
An electronically notarized document is impossible to forge. This is because the notary’s computer creates a unique algorithm using numbers and letters and then encrypts it using the notary’s private key.
In case the document is altered, even by a single character, a different algorithm is created which shows the document has been tampered with, rendering it invalid.
As with traditional rubber stamps and seals, it’s your duty as a notary to keep your private key secure to avoid fraud.
To protect your private key:
- Do not share it with anyone.
- Store it on a private computer with two-factor authentication or encryption software.
- Do not store it on an online platform.
- Report to your commissioning authority in case of loss.
When purchasing notary supplies online, you’ll also need to acquire an electronic seal. At Pro Stamps, this digital proof is absolutely free and is emailed to you within 24 hours of purchasing a self-inking notary stamp and seal.
Get the Ideal Notary Stamp for Daily Use
At Pro Stamps, we use Trodat, the most popular notary stamp in the world. The stamps can produce thousands of crisp stamp impressions.
All of our stamps are engraved in the USA and are shipped first class within 24 hours via USPS to ensure they reach you fast and in perfect condition.
Our self-inking stamps come in five colors:
- Sky blue
For each self-inking stamp color you choose, you’ll receive a free digital proof emailed to you within 24 hours.