A Notary Public is someone who can sign passport documents, certify copies of original documents such as birth certificates, sign (and in some cases prepare) Statutory Declarations such as travel documents, as well as certify documents under The Homestead Act, 1989. They can also administer oaths of affidavits to be used in or out of Saskatchewan. Notarized documents sometimes require authentication of a signature.
Having documents signed before a notary provides assurance to others that that particular person signed the document. In the modern era, when contracts are routinely entered into between parties thousands of kilometers apart, notaries perform a useful function removing some of the risk associated with such remotely executed agreements. In essence, it makes it more difficult for a party to a contract to assert that she/he did not sign the document later.
Don't Sign Yet!
For a Notary Public to notarize your signature, you must sign it in the physical presence of the Notary. Generally speaking, it is best to wait until the Notary tells you that you can sign, as you may need to swear an oath first, for example. The most common mistake we see is customers coming in with documents already signed. Usually, this is easily rectified. You simply sign the document again in front of the Notary. However, it is, of course, a little messy. And it may not be accepted in your particular circumstances. If you want to be sure, contact your counsel, or the organization that you are sending the document to, and ask. If possible, bring a spare copy, just in case.