The Notary Files | “Can You Explain This Witness Thing?”

I’ve fielded so many questions on what the requirements for witnessing in this state are.  Years ago, I was asked who could sign as a witness by a fellow Notary Public who conducted a signing at Greenville Memorial Hospital on a document we were familiar with.

The Notary was advised that only one witness was needed party to the transaction in front of her. Now take heed, there are different rules for witnessing for documents in different states. Here are some important points to go by here in the State of South Carolina:

Please do not take any of the following as legal advice or advisement.

As a protective measure, will only solicit the help of someone 18 years of age or older. There are some states that will allow minors 16 years of age and older to witness.

In the State of South Carolina, there are a handful of documents that require witnessing by two parties.  Some, such as insurance documents, only require the signature witnessing of one party.

In the State of South Carolina, the Notary public can act as a witness. Therefore, if the document calls for a witness’ and a Notary’s signature, the Notary public can sign for both. If the document calls for two witnesses and a Notary’s signature, the Notary can act as one of the witnesses, but there must be another.

To date, there are only 5 states that allow notaries to act as witness. For information on those that do, you can navigate HERE. For a choice few of those states, their interstate rule is that if the document traveled from out of state and was witnessed by a Notary public in that other state, the Notary public could not have acted as the first witness. Therefore, you may, as the Notary public for the transaction here in South Carolina, act as the second witness only. Oftentimes, if a document is pre-drafted by an attorney or pre-printed, it will already have acknowledgment lines for the 1st witness as an outside party and the 2nd witness as the Notary public.

If you reference the rules of the State of South Carolina, you will see that there are also special circumstances in which the notary public cannot witness. These special circumstances included, but are not limited to, witnessing when the notary public has been designated by the Principal to sign on their behalf.

For more information on the notarial rules in your state, you can visit the website of your Secretary of State’s office.  For us South Carolinians, you can navigate to

Your Local Greenville/Spartanburg Notary Public,

Sonita M. Leak
Owner of

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