Why Banks don’t Notarize Documents (Even if They Claim To)

One common theme I’ve heard from many of my notary clients recently is they say, “I tried to get this document notarized at my bank, which should do it for free, but the bank’s notary was never available.”

They go on about how they got to the local bank early and the bank’s notary public wasn’t there. Strange… however the bank’s manager assured them the notary would be back later to help them. The client then will check back at the bank and will be told the notary was, “Out to lunch.” or “They are actually not working today.”

These stories usually lead into how long they’ve been with a particular bank and how they used to be able to go use the notary public there often. “I used to never have a problem with getting a document notarized!” they exclaim. They are also be annoyed they had to resort to using a paid notary public, instead of using the free one at the bank. 🙂

These stories are becoming quite common and I hear them on a weekly basis.

Why is it so hard to find a notary at a bank these days? Is there a shortage of bank notaries out in the world?

Banks Don’t want to Notarize YOUR Documents

Hate to break this to you, but a bank saying the notary public is “Out to lunch” is no accident.

Usually the notary public, or several, are there at the bank. The managers have been instructed to offer a notary service to customers on a limited basis.

So banks are purposefully making it difficult to get a document notarized. Why is this? There are two main reasons.


Making sure a document is properly notarized comes with liability.  A notary public is an officer of the court in the state they certified and serve. If there is a legal dispute over a document that a notary notarized, they might have to appear in court.

Banks know this and they don’t want an employee to lose a day of work over a free service. It’s better to have an employee in the bank working and making money, then spending the whole day at court.

Bank managers therefore try to avoid giving out a notary to customers as much as possible. For internal bank documents they will have whoever is a certified notary notarize documents as much as possible.

Time = Money

Banks are there to make money. So many figure, “What’s the point of offering a free notary  service?”

I talked privately with a bank branch manager about this once. The view is it is better to have an employee selling products or advising about services which make money. This includes opening checking and savings accounts, IRAs (individual retirement accounts), CDs (certificates of deposit), bank telling, etc. A notary service, even if they charged, isn’t going to earn as much as banking products.

Hmmm… perhaps I am in the wrong business? 🙂

It’s not worthwhile for a bank to have an employee sit there to notarize documents for even 15 minutes. I’m sure some bean counter at corporate headquarters came up with and algorithm working that out.

I still need a Notary… Where Do I go?

Banks claim to offer free notary services to customers but the sad reality is they don’t want to offer the service these days.

If you are reading this article I assume you still need a notary, so where do you go? Obviously NotaryDog offers mobile notary services in the Baltimore City and Baltimore County region.  We would be happy to notarize your documents if you contact us. Most of the time we can notarize documents for you or your business the same day.

If you are not in the Baltimore area, a good place to go is your local liquor store. Often the owner or an employee there is a certified notary public. They typically charge the standard rate and handle notarizations all day or night. Depending on when they work.

In my opinion banks should just be honest instead of wasting customers time. Wouldn’t that be better? I guess they advertise “Free Notary” and that’s a good thing to say you offer.

Have you had experience with banks making it difficult to get a document notarized? Did they tell you the notary public was always “unavailable”? What is your bank notary horror story?


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