What does SS mean on a legal document?

“SS” on a legal document indicates information about the venue’s physical location, the jurisdiction, where a document is notarized (and not the social security number that many people often confuse it with).

This article covers questions that come up during the signing process, such as whether “SS” is obligatory, where a signer should be located when notarizing a document, and if a remote online notary is legal.

“SS” is an abbreviation for the Latin term “scilicet,” which means “to wit,” “namely” or “in particular.”

It is used in legal documents to specify the venue information — in particular, where the permission or legal license was granted, and in which state and county. 

A scilicet is a common add-on to a notary certificate in the upper-left-hand corner of a document

Here is what it looks like:

State of _________

County of ________ SS. (Town/City)

In the case of a notary certificate, “SS” specifies where the notarization took place — the location where the notary and the signer physically met to sign the certificate.

Is it obligatory to have SS on a notary certificate?

Using “scilicet” on a notary certificate is not obligatory in all jurisdictions and may be omitted on a document. The certificate will still remain valid.

However, if venue information is required, then a notary is obliged to add “SS” on a notary certification.

What is remote online notarization?

Remote online notarization (RON) is the process of notarizing a document virtually using electronic signatures, identity verification, audio-visual communication, and an electronic notarial journal or record-keeping technologies. 

Unlike a traditional notary, RON does not require a notary and signer to meet physically to execute a notarial act. As long as state law permits, they can do it using digital devices from their current location.

RON platforms like PandaDoc Notary typically involve a video call during which the signer electronically signs a document. This process uses a webcam and a live stream of what a signer sees on a screen. 

Thus, this method declares a notary a witness to the signature, providing a foundation for notarizing the document remotely and affixing their electronic seal to it.

Online notarization is legal in the US. Currently, 44 states support online notarization, which rapidly accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic.

While online notarization is legal, each state has its own laws and standards governing how RON services must be conducted between a notary and a signer.

If SS is required, can I still do online notarization?

You can do online notarization in cases where the notary is physically present in the commissioning state while performing a notary act.

If a notary is outside the state’s borders, remote notarization is not possible. 

This rule applies to all states with permanent remote notarization laws except for West Virginia, where remote notarization is possible only when both a notary and a signer are located in West Virginia.

States that have adopted the provisions of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) for notary acts have two rules for individuals located outside the United States. 

The first rule allows a notary to perform remote notarization only if there is a “nexus” with the United States, such as a record related to a court, government entity, or property within a U.S. jurisdiction.

The second rule states that remote notarization must comply with the laws of the jurisdiction where the remotely located individual is at the time. Washington, Pennsylvania, and Idaho have these provisions.

Should I be physically present in the same state as the notary?

In most cases, the signer can be physically located inside or outside the state and country where remote notarization takes place.

However, the notary must be physically located in the commissioning state during a remote notarization.

Does the notary stamp go next to SS?

Typically, the notary stamp is placed near the notary’s signature at the end of the document.

However, the location of the notary seal may vary depending on the regulations of a specific state.

Final thoughts

“SS,” also known as “scilicet,” is not obligatory on a legal document; however, it is often required by a requested party. 

Choosing remote online notarization can help you make the process of notarizing a document faster, more secure, and, importantly, it’s legal.

Here’s how it works at PandaDoc Notary. You upload a file that needs notarization, and a commissioned notary joins your live session.

You can also add any participants who need to be part of the session by sending out email invitations. Edit a document, sign it using the eSign tool, and get a digital notary stamp authorized by an online notary.

To learn more about PandaDoc Notary, book a demo or sign up for a 14-days trial to start using it today.