22 CFR 92.31 - Taking an acknowledgment.
(a) Officers' assurance of acceptability of notarial act. A notarizing officer taking an acknowledgment should, if possible, ascertain the requirements of the jurisdiction in which the acknowledged document is to be used and execute the certificate in accordance with those requirements. Not all States or Territories will accept certificates of acknowledgment executed by notarizing officers other than consuls. Therefore, notarizing officers and consular agents who are called upon to perform this notarial act should consult the applicable State or territorial law to ascertain whether certificates of acknowledgment will be acceptable. (See § 92.5 regarding acceptability of consular notarial acts under state or territorial law.) Furthermore, public policy generally forbids that the act of taking and certifying an acknowledgment be performed by a person financially or beneficially interested in the transaction to which the acknowledged document relates. Notarizing officers should keep this point in mind, especially in connection with acknowledgments by members of their families.
(b) Personal appearance of grantor(s). A notarizing officer taking an acknowledgment should always require the personal appearance of the grantor(s), i.e., the person or persons who have signed the instrument to be acknowledged. Since the officer states in his certificate that the parties did personally appear before him, failure to observe this requirement invalidates the notarial act and makes the officer liable to the charge of negligence and of having executed a false certificate. A notarizing officer should never take an acknowledgment by telephone.
(c) Satisfactory identification of grantor(s). The notarizing officer must be certain of the identity of the parties making an acknowledgment. If he is not personally acquainted with the parties, he should require from each some evidence of identity, such as a passport, police identity card, or the like. The laws of some States and Territories require that the identity of an acknowledger be proved by the oath of one or more “credible witnesses”, and that a statement regarding the proving of identity in this manner be included in the certificate of acknowledgment. (See § 92.32(b) regarding forms of certificates of acknowledgment generally.) Mere introduction of a person not known to the notarizing officer, without further proof of identity, is not considered adequate identification for acknowledgment purposes.
(d) Explanation of contents of instrument. The notarizing officer must assure himself that the person acknowledging an instrument understands the nature of the instrument. If the person does not understand it, the officer is legally and morally bound to explain the instrument in such a way as to make the person who has signed it realize the character and effect of his act. This duty is particularly important where the signer of a document has little or no knowledge of the language in which the document is written.
(e) Acknowledgments of married women. Some of the States still require that a married woman who has executed an instrument of conveyance jointly with her husband be examined separately by the notarizing officer at the time the acknowledgments of the couple are taken. Notarizing officers should consult the applicable statutory provisions before taking the acknowledgments of a husband and wife to a document which they have both executed.