PA House Bill 25 (RULONA) | NNA

PA House Bill 25 (RULONA)

Notary Law Update: PA House Bill 25 (RULONA)

State: Pennsylvania

Summary:

Pennsylvania becomes the fourth state to enact the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA). HB 25 comprehensively rewrites all of Pennsylvania’s Notary statutes, pulling in existing law and supplementing it with the new RULONA provisions.

Certain provisions are effective immediately upon being signed into law; others are
subject to a delayed effective date (See Analysis).

Signed:  October 09, 2013

Effective:  October 09, 2013

Chapter: Act No. 73

Affects:
Amends Section 327(a), adds Chapter 3, Sections 301-331 to Title 57, and repeals 21 P.S. § 291.1-291.13, 57 P. S. § 31a, 57 P. S. § 54b, 57 P. S. § 54c, 57 P. S. § 54e, 57 P. S. § 54f, 57 P. S. § 55, 57 P. S. § 56, 57 P. S. § 64, 57 P. S. § 65, 57 P. S. § 147, 57 P. S. § 148, 57 P. S. § 149, 57 P. S. § 150, 57 P. S. § 151, 57 P. S. § 152, 57 P. S. § 153, 57 P. S. § 154, 57 P. S. § 155, 57 P. S. § 156, 57 P. S. § 158, 57 P. S. § 158.1, 57 P. S. § 161, 57 P. S. § 162, 57 P. S. § 165, 57 P. S. § 167, 57 P. S. § 168, 57 P. S. § 168.1, 57 P. S. § 168.2, 57 P. S. § 168.3, 57 P. S. § 169 and 71 P. S. § 240.18A(1)(i)
 
Changes:
Definitions
  1. Adds new definitions of “Acknowledgment”, “Bureau”, “Conviction”, “Department”, “In a representative capacity”, “Notarial Act”, “Notarial Officer”, “Notary public”, “Official stamp”, “Person”, “Recorder of deeds”, “Sign”, “Signature”, “Secretary”, “Stamping Device”, “State”, and “Verification on oath or affirmation” (Sec. 302).
  2. Adopts the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) definitions of “Electronic,” “Electronic Signature” and “Record” (Sec. 302).
  3. Clarifies that a “Notarial officer” means a Notary Public or other individual authorized to perform a notarial act while a “Notary public” means an individual commissioned to perform a notarial act by the Department of State (Sec. 302).
  4. Clarifies that “Official stamp” means the physical image affixed to on a tangible record or an electronic image attached to or logically associated with an electronic record, and that “Stamping device” means the tool that creates the physical or electronic image (Sec. 302).
Qualifications; Commissioning
  1. Retains the following current qualifications to obtain a Notary commission: (a) minimum age of 18 years or older; (b) residency or a place of employment or practice in Pennsylvania. (Note: the requirement of nonresidents having a “place” of employment in Pennsylvania is consistent with existing rules, but is much clearer.) (Sec. 321)
  2. Requires an applicant for a Notary commission to: (a) be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. ; (b) be able to read and write the English language; (c) pass the examination required under Section 322(a); (d) not be disqualified to receive a commission under new Section 323 (grounds for which the Department of State may deny, suspend or revoke the commission of a Notary – see below); and (e) comply with other requirements established by the Department of State by regulation as necessary to ensure the competency, integrity and qualifications of a Notary and to ensure the proper performance of notarial acts (Sec. 321[a]).
  3. Authorizes the Department of State to deny, refuse to renew, revoke, suspend, reprimand or impose a condition on a commission as Notary for an act or omission which demonstrates that the individual lacks the honesty, integrity, competence or reliability to act as a Notary, including: (a) failure to comply with Chapter 3; (b) a fraudulent, dishonest or deceitful misstatement or omission in the application for a commission as a Notary submitted to the Department; (c) conviction of, or acceptance of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition by, the applicant or Notary for a felony or an offense involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit; (d) a finding against, or admission of liability by, the applicant or Notary in a legal proceeding or disciplinary action based on the fraud, dishonesty or deceit of the applicant or Notary; (e) failure to discharge a duty required of a Notary, whether by Chapter 3, by regulation of the Department or by Federal or State law; (f) use of false or misleading advertising or representation by a notary public representing that the Notary has a duty, right or privilege that the Notary does not have; (g) violation of a regulation of the Department regarding a Notary; (8) denial, refusal to renew, revocation, suspension or conditioning of a Notary commission in another state; and (9) failure of a Notary to maintain a bond under Section 321(d) (Sec. 323).
  4. Requires an applicant for a Notary commission to submit the following in applying to become a Notary: (a) an application on a form prescribed by the Department of State; and (b) a nonrefundable $42 fee. (Note: the prior fee was $40 and the proper senatorial endorsement is retained as a requirement as under existing rules.) (Sec. 321[b]).
  5. Clarifies that a Notary commission does not provide a Notary any immunities or benefits conferred by law on public officials or employees (Sec. 321).
  6. Requires an applicant for a commission to obtain a surety bond from an insurance company licensed in Pennsylvania in the amount of $10,000 or the amount set by regulation of the Department. (Note: the bond will remain $10,000 unless the Department issues a rule to set the bond at a higher amount, and the prior law allowing two sureties to post the Notaries bond has been repealed.) (Sec. 321[d])
  7. Requires a surety company or issuing entity of the bond to give notice of 30 days to the Department of State before cancelling the bond (Sec. 321[d][5]).
  8. Requires the bond, oath of office and commission to be recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds of the county in which the Notary maintains an office. (Note: the new statute does not mention that this must be accomplished within 45 days as the statute repealed under HB 25 and as is required for the filing of the Notary’s official signature with the prothonotary.) (Sec. 321[d.2[1] and [2])
  9. Clarifies that the examination of a Notary may be administered by the Department of State or an entity approved by the Department (Sec. 322[a])
  10. Requires all applicants for renewal of appointment to take a continuing education course of at least 3 hours approved by the Department within the six-month period immediately preceding application. (Note: this statute corrects the prior statute, which gave rise to the Tritt v. Cortés Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court grandfathered in certain Notaries who were appointed prior to the year the original statute requiring mandatory education took effect.) (Sec. 322[c][1])
  11. Clarifies that the continuing education course must ensure maintenance and enhancement of skill, knowledge and competency necessary to perform notarial acts (Sec. 322[c][2]).
Notarial Officers and Notarial Acts
  1. Authorizes the following individuals to perform notarial acts in Pennsylvania; (a) a judge of a court of record; (b) a clerk, prothonotary or deputy prothonotary or deputy clerk of a court having a seal; (c) a recorder of deeds; (d) a deputy recorder of deeds; (e) a clerk of a recorder of deeds to the extent authorized by 16 P. S. § 7631, 16 P. S. § 4312 and 16 P. S. § 1313; (f) a Notary Public; (g) a member of the minor judiciary as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 102; and (h) an individual authorized by law to perform a specific notarial act (Sec. 310[a]).
  2. Clarifies that the signature and title of an individual performing a notarial act in the Commonwealth under #1 above are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title (Sec. 310[b]).
  3. Clarifies that the signature and title of a notarial officer described in #1(a), (b), (c), (d),(e),(f) and (g) above conclusively establish the authority of the officer to perform the notarial act.
  4. Clarifies that the new Chapter 3 applies to a notarial act performed on or after the effective date (Sec. 303).
  5. Permits a notarial officer to perform a notarial act authorized by the new chapter or by statutory provision other than the new chapter (Sec. 304). (Note: this may allow Notaries to take depositions and perform functions related to motor vehicle titles. Depositions were an authorized notarial act in 57 P.S. 162, but this statute is repealed under the new law.)
  6. Adds signature witnessings to the authorized list of notarial acts a notarial officer may perform (Sec. 302, definition of “Notarial act”) (Sec. 302 definition of “Notarial act”).
  7. Requires a notarial officer who takes an acknowledgment to determine, from personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence that: (a) the individual appearing before the officer and making the acknowledgment has the identity claimed; and (b) the signature on the record is the signature of the individual (Sec. 305[a]).
  8. Clarifies that a verification on oath or affirmation includes an affidavit (Sec. 302, definition of “Verification on oath or affirmation”). (Note: the repealed section in 57P.S. § 162 listed “take affidavits” as an authorized notarial act.) (Sec. 305[b])
  9. Requires a notarial officer who takes a verification on oath or affirmation to determine, from personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence that: (a) the individual appearing before the officer and making the verification has the identity claimed; and (b) the signature on the statement verified is the signature of the individual (Sec. 305[a]).
  10. Requires a notarial officer who witnesses or attests to a signature to determine, from personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence that: (a) the individual appearing before the officer and signing the record has the identity claimed; and (b) the signature on the record is the signature of the individual (Sec. 305[c]).
  11. Requires a notarial officer who makes or notes a protest of a negotiable instrument to determine the matters set forth in 13 Pa.C.S. § 3505(b) (relating to evidence of dishonor) (Sec. 305[e]).
Appearance and Identification of Signer
  1. Expressly states that if a notarial act relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on a record, the individual making the statement or signing the record must personally appear before the notarial officer at the time of notarization (Note: this would apply to the taking of an acknowledgment, verification upon oath or affirmation and signature witnessing.). By inference, an individual requesting a copy certification does not need to appear before the notarial officer. (Sec. 306)
  2. Defines “personal knowledge” to mean that the individual is personally known to the officer through dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the individual has the identity claimed (Sec. 307[a]). (Note: the definition in repealed section 57 P.S. 158.1 requires the Notary to have an acquaintance derived from association with the individual in relation to other people and based upon a chain of circumstances – emphasizing that the circumstances must be related in some manner.)
  3. Clarifies that a notarial officer has satisfactory evidence if the individual presents a current and unexpired passport, driver’s license or government-issued ID, another form of government ID that is current and contains the signature or photograph and is satisfactory to the notarial officer (Sec.  07[b])
  4. Clarifies that a credible witness who verifies the identity of an individual must be personally known to the Notary (Sec. 307[b][2]). (Note: the repealed section in 57 P.S. 158.1 also requires the individual to personally know the signer.)
  5. Authorizes the notarial officer to require an individual to provide additional information or identification credentials to assure the officer that the individual has the identity claimed (Sec. 307[c]).
Authority to Perform or Refuse to Perform Notarial Acts
  1. Prohibits a notarial officer from performing a notarial act if the officer’s spouse has a direct or pecuniary interest in the record (Sec. 304[b][1]).
  2. Declares that a notarial act performed on a record by a notarial officer in which the officer or officer’s spouse has a direct pecuniary interest is voidable (Sec. 304[b][3]).
  3. Permits a notarial officer to refuse to perform a notarial act if the officer is not satisfied that the principal signer is competent or has the capacity to execute the record; or that the individual’s signature is knowingly and voluntarily made (Sec. 308).
  4. Permits a notarial officer to refuse to perform a notarial act if an individual’s signature on the record or statement does not substantially conform to the signature on a form of identification used to identify the individual (Sec. 308)
  5. Permits a notarial officer to refuse to perform a notarial act if the physical appearance of the individual signing the record does not substantially conform to the photograph on a form of identification used to identify the individual (Sec. 308).
  6. Permits a notarial officer to refuse to perform a notarial act unless refusal is prohibited by law other than the new Notary chapter (Sec. 308).
Notarial Certificate
  1. Requires a notarial act to be evidenced by a certificate (Sec. 315[a]).
  2. Requires a notarial certificate to be executed contemporaneously with the performance of the notarial act (Sec. 315).
  3. Requires a notarial certificate completed by a Notary to: (a) be signed by a Notary with the signature exactly as it appears on the Notary’s commission; (b) be dated; (c) contain the county and state in which the notarial act is performed; (d) contain the title of the notarial officer; (e) contain the Notary’s commission expiration date; and (f) contain the Notary’s official stamp near the Notary’s signature in a form capable of photographic reproduction (Sec. 315[a] and [b][1]).
  4. Does not require a notarial officer other than a Notary Public to affix the officer’s official stamp on a notarial certificate if the certificate: (a) is signed by the notarial officer; (b) is dated; (c) contains the county and state in which the notarial act is performed; and (d) contains the title of the notarial officer (Sec. 315[b]).Clarifies that in executing a notarial certificate the notarial officer certifies he or she made the determinations required by Section 304 (authorizing a notarial officer to perform a notarial act and not performing a notarization in which the Notary or Notary’s spouse is a party or has a direct pecuniary interest), 305 (fulfilling the requirements for each notarial act), and 306 (requiring the signer to be physically present) (Sec. 315[d]).
  5. Prohibits a notarial officer from signing a notarial certificate on a tangible or electronic record until the notarial act has been performed (Sec. 315[e]).
  6. Requires a notarial certificate for a tangible record to be part of or securely affixed to the record following any rules prescribed by the Department of State (Sec. 315[f]).
  7. States that a certificate of a notarial act is sufficient if it: (a) is in a short form set forth in Section 316; (b) is in form otherwise permitted by a statutory provision; (c) is in a form permitted by the law applicable in the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed; or (d) sets forth the actions of the
  8. notarial officer and the actions are sufficient to meet the requirements of the notarial act provided in Sections 305 (relating to requirements for notarial acts), 306 (relating to personal appearance), and 307 (relating to identification of the individual); or a statutory provision other than Chapter 3 (Sec. 315[c]).
  9. Prescribes short-form certificates for an acknowledgment in an individual capacity, acknowledgment in a representative capacity, verification upon oath or affirmation, signature witnessing, copy certification and certification of a transcript of a deposition (Sec. 316).
Official Stamp and Stamping Device
  1. Requires the Notary Public’s official stamp to contain the following elements within a plain border in the following order: (a) the words “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”; (b) the words “Notary Seal”; (c) the name of the Notary as it appears on the Notary’s commission; (d) the name of the county in which the Notary maintains an office; and (e) any other information required by the Department of State (Sec. 317[1]).
  2. Clarifies that the official stamp must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached, or with which it is logically associated (Sec. 317[3]).
  3. Requires the Notary upon resignation or expiration of the Notary’s commission to disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing or securing it against use in a manner which renders it unusable (Sec. 318[a][2]).
  4. Requires a Notary whose commission has been suspended or revoked to surrender possession of the Notary’s stamping device to the Department of State (Sec. 318[a][2.1]).
  5. Requires the Notary’s personal representative or guardian or any other person knowingly in possession of the stamping device upon death or adjudication of incompetency of the Notary to disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing or securing it against use in a manner that renders it unusable (Sec. 318[a][3]).
  6. Requires a Notary or Notary’s personal representative to promptly notify the Secretary of State if the Notary’s stamping device is lost or stolen (Sec. 318[b]).
Journal
  1. Requires a journal kept in a tangible medium to be a bound register with numbered pages and an electronic journal to be in a tamper-evident format complying with the regulations of the Department of State (Sec. 319[b]).
  2. Requires a Notary to record a journal entry contemporaneously with the performance of the notarial act (Sec. 319[c]).
  3. Requires the Notary’s journal to contain all information currently required in statute (date of notarization, name of each party, character of the notarial act and fee charged), but requires in addition that the journal must also contain the time of notarization, a description of the record, the full name and address of each individual for whom the notarial act is performed, and the method used to identify the individual (Sec. 319[c][1]).
  4. Requires a Notary to promptly notify the Department of State if the Notary’s journal is lost or stolen (Sec. 319[d]).
  5. Retains the requirement of existing statute that the Notary must deliver the journal to the recorder of deeds in the county where the Notary last maintained an office within 30 days of expiration of the commission of the Notary, unless the Notary applies for a commission within that time period, or upon resignation or revocation of the commission (Sec. 319[e]).
  6. Requires the Notary’s personal representative or guardian or any other person knowingly in possession of the journal upon death or adjudication of incompetency of the Notary to deliver the Notary’s journal to the recorder of deeds in the county where the Notary last maintained an office within 30 days (Sec. 319[g]).
Notarization of Electronic Records
  1. Permits a Notary to use one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts on electronic records (Sec. 320[a]).
  2. Requires that any technology used by a Notary to perform a notarization on an electronic record be tamper-evident (Sec. 320[a]).
  3. Prohibits any person from requiring a Notary to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology the Notary has not selected (Sec. 320[a]).
  4. Clarifies that any technology the Notary intends to use to perform notarial acts on electronic records must comply with any standards established by the Department of State, if the Department has established standards (Sec. 320[b][2]).
  5. Requires a Notary to notify the Secretary of State that the Notary will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the technology the Notary intends to use prior to performing the Notary’s first notarial act on an electronic record (Sec. 320[b][1]).
  6. Permits, but does not require, a Notary Public or notarial officer to affix his or her official stamp on an electronic record being notarized provided that the electronic notarial certificate contains: (a) the Notary’s signature exactly as it appears on the Notary’s commission and in a manner that attributes the signature to the Notary identified on the commission; (b) the date of notarization; (c) the county and state in which the notarial act is performed; (d) the title of the notarial officer; and (e) the Notary’s expiration date (Sec. 315).
  7. Requires a notarial certificate to be affixed to, or logically associated with, the electronic record 
  8. and if any rules for attaching or logically associating a certificate have been adopted by the Secretary of State, those rules must be followed (Sec. 315[f]).
  9. Requires the Department of State to maintain an electronic database of Notaries Public through which a person may verify the authority of a Notary to perform notarial acts and which indicates whether a Notary has notified the Department that the Notary will be performing notarial acts on electronic records (Sec. 324).
Prohibited Acts
  1. States that a commission to perform notarial acts does not allow a Notary to: (a) assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice or otherwise practice law; (b) act as an immigration consultant or expert; (c) represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the U.S. or U.S. citizenship; or (d) receive compensation for any of the above mentioned activities (Sec. 325[a]).
  2. Prohibits a Notary from engaging in false or deceptive advertising (Sec. 325[b]).
  3. Prohibits a Notary from using the term “notario” or “notario publico” unless the Notary is also an attorney (Sec. 325[c]).
  4. Prohibits a Notary, other than an attorney licensed to practice law, from representing or advertising that the Notary may assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice or otherwise practice law (Sec. 325[d][1][i]).
  5. Requires a Notary who is not an attorney and who in any manner advertises or represents that the Notary offers notarial services, whether orally or in a record, including broadcast or print media, and the Internet, to include the following statement or an alternative statement authorized by the Department of State in the advertisement or representation, prominently and in each language used in the advertisement or representation: “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in this Commonwealth. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, nor charge a fee for those activities.” If the form of advertisement or representation is not broadcast and print media, or the Internet, and does not permit the inclusion of the statement due to size, the statement must be prominently displayed or provided at the place of performance of the notarial act before the act is performed (Sec. 325[d][1][ii]).
  6. Prohibits a Notary from withholding access to or possessing any original record provided by a person that requests performance of a notarial act unless as otherwise allowed by law (Sec.325[e]).
Investigations, Crimes and Penalties
  1. Authorizes the Department of State to impose an administrative penalty of up to $1,000 on a Notary for each act or omission which constitutes a violation of Chapter 3 or on any person who performs a notarial act without being properly appointed and commissioned as a Notary (Sec. 323[a.1]).
  2. Clarifies that action by the Department of State under Sec. 323(a) or (a.1) is subject to 2 Pa.C.S. Chapter 5, Subchapter A and Chapter 7, Subchapter A (Sec. 323[b]).
  3. Clarifies that action by the Department against a Notary does not prevent a person from seeking and obtaining criminal or civil remedies provided by law (Sec. 323[c]).
  4. Authorizes the Department to issue a subpoena, upon application of an attorney responsible for representing the Commonwealth in disciplinary matters before the Department, for the purpose of investigating alleged violations of the disciplinary provisions administered by the Department and apply to the Commonwealth Court under 42 Pa.C.S. § 761(a)(2) to enforce a subpoena; and further clarifies in an investigation or hearing, the Department, as it deems necessary, may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, examine witnesses, take testimony and compel the production of documents (Sec. 323[d]).
  5. Authorizes the Department of State to initiate civil proceedings at law or in equity to enforce regulations or orders issued under Chapter 3 and to request prosecution of criminal offenses to the extent provided by Chapter 3 or as otherwise provided by law relating to Notaries, notarial officers or notarial acts, in the manner provided by the Commonwealth Attorneys Act (71 P. S. § 732-101 et seq.) (Sec. 323[e]).
  6. Declares the following as criminal acts in Chapter 3: (a) holding oneself out as a Notary or notarial officer or performing a notarial act except as provided in Chapter 3 or otherwise provided by law; (b) falsely pretending to be a Notary or notarial officer and performing any action in furtherance of such false pretense (as penalized in 18 Pa.C.S. § 4913); (c) using an official stamp by a person who is not a Notary named on the stamp (as penalized in 18 Pa.C.S. § 4913); and (d) except for (b) and (c) above, violating Chapter 3 or a regulation of the Department, which is a summary offense and, upon conviction, shall be penalized to pay a fine of not more than $1,000.
  7. Notes that there are provisions in 18.Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses) which apply to Notaries (Sec. 325[f]).
Validity of Notarial Acts
  1. Clarifies that the failure of a notarial officer to perform the duties or meet the requirements specified in the Act does not invalidate a notarial act performed by the officer (Sec. 326[a]).
  2. Clarifies that the validity of a notarial act under the Act does not prevent an aggrieved person from seeking to invalidate the record or transaction that is the subject of the notarial act or from seeking other remedies based upon other Commonwealth law (Sec. 326[b]).
  3. Clarifies that the Act does not validate a purported notarial act performed by an individual who does not have the authority to perform the act (Sec. 326[c]).
  4. Clarifies that Chapter 3 does not affect the validity or effect of a notarial act performed before the effective date of Chapter 3 (Sec. 329).
Regulations
  1. Provides that the Department of State may promulgate regulations to implement Chapter 3 (Sec. 327[a]).
  2. Stipulates that regulations promulgated by the Department of State with regard to notarization of electronic records may not require, or accord greater legal status to, the implementation or application of a specific technology or technological specification; and further provides that in promulgating regulations, the Department shall consider: (a) the most recent standards regarding electronic records promulgated by national bodies, such as the National Association of Secretaries of State; (b) the standards, practices and customs of other states which substantially enact the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts; and (c) the views of governmental officials and entities and other interested persons (Sec. 327[a] and [b]).
  3. Provides that any regulations promulgated by the Department of State may: (a) prescribe the manner of performing notarial acts regarding tangible and electronic records; (b) include provisions to ensure that any change to or tampering with a record bearing a certificate of a notarial act is self-evident; (c) include provisions to ensure integrity in the creation, transmittal, storage or authentication of electronic records or signatures; (d) prescribe the process of granting, renewing, conditioning, denying, suspending or revoking a Notary commission and assuring the trustworthiness of an individual holding a commission as Notary Public; (e) include provisions to prevent fraud or mistake in the performance of notarial acts; (f) establish the process for approving and accepting surety bonds under section 321(d); (g) provide for the administration of the  examination under section 322(a) and the course of study under section 322(b); and (h) include any other provision necessary to implement Chapter 3 (Sec. 327[a]).
Recognition of Notarial Acts
  1. Clarifies that notarial acts performed by the following individuals of another state have the same effect under the law of the Commonwealth as if performed by a notarial officer of the Commonwealth: (a) a Notary Public, (b) a judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court, and (c) an individual authorized by the law of that state to perform the notarial act; and further clarifies that the signature and title of an individual performing a notarial act are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title, and that the signature and title of a notarial officer described in (a) and (b) above conclusively establish the authority of the officer to perform the notarial act (Sec. 311).
  2. Clarifies that notarial acts performed by the following individuals of a federally-recognized Indian tribe have the same effect under the law of the Commonwealth as if performed by a notarial officer of the Commonwealth: (a) a Notary Public, (b) a judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court, and (c) an individual authorized by the law of that state to perform the notarial act; and further clarifies that the signature and title of an individual performing a notarial act are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title, and that the signature and title of a notarial officer described in (a) and (b) above conclusively establish the authority of the officer to perform the notarial act (Sec. 312).
  3. Clarifies that notarial acts performed by the following individuals under Federal law have the same effect under the law of the Commonwealth as if performed by a notarial officer of the Commonwealth: (a) a judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court, (b) an individual in military service or performing duties under the authority of military service who is authorized to perform notarial acts under Federal law; (c) an individual designated a notarizing officer by the U.S. Department of State for performing notarial acts overseas; and (d) an individual authorized by Federal law to perform the notarial act; and further clarifies that the signature and title of an individual performing a notarial act are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title, and that the signature and title of a notarial officer described in (a), (b) and (c) above conclusively establish the authority of the officer to perform the notarial act (Sec. 313).
  4. Clarifies that a notarial act performed under authority and in the jurisdiction of a foreign state or constituent unit of the foreign state; or performed under the authority of a multinational or international governmental organization has the same effect under the law of the Commonwealth as if performed by a notarial officer of the Commonwealth; and further clarifies that if the title of office and indication of authority to perform notarial acts in a foreign state appears in a digest of foreign law or in a list customarily used as a source for that information, the authority of an officer with that title to perform notarial acts is conclusively established, and that the signature and official stamp of the individual are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title. (Note: the term "foreign state" means a government other than the United States, a U.S. state or a federally-recognized Indian tribe.) (Sec. 314)
  5. Clarifies that an apostille conclusively establishes that the signature of the notarial officer is genuine and the officer holds the indicated office (Sec. 314[e]).
  6. Clarifies that a consular authentication issued by an individual designated by the United States Department of State as a notarizing officer for performing notarial acts overseas and attached to the record with respect to which the notarial act is performed conclusively establishes that the signature of the notarial officer is genuine and that the officer holds the indicated office.
Application of Uniform Law
  1. Clarifies that in applying and construing the Act, consideration must be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among the states that enact it (Sec. 330).
  2. Clarifies that the Acts modifies and supersedes the federal E-SIGN Act to the extent permitted by section 102 of the E-Sign Act (Sec. 331).
Repealed Provisions
  1. Repeals the Uniform Acknowledgments Act (21 P.S. § 291.1-291.13).
  2. Repeals a statute validating certain notarial acts (57 P.S. § 31a).
  3. Repeals a statute providing prior authorization to certain individuals in the U.S. armed forces to take acknowledgments and affidavits (57 P.S. § 54b).
  4. Repeals a statute validating certain notarial acts performed by individuals on active duty with the armed forces of the United States (57 P.S. § 54c).
  5. Repeals a statute containing prior requirements for a certificate of acknowledgment and of other notarial acts (57 P.S. § 54e).
  6. Repeals a statute providing prima facie evidence of authority of the signature of a commissioned officer taking an acknowledgment (57 P.S. § 54f).
  7. Repeals a statute authorizing a magistrate, alderman or justice of the peace to administer oaths (57 P.S. § 55).
  8. Repeals a statute validating notarial acts performed by Notaries within 3 months after the expiration of their commissions (57 P.S. § 64).
  9. Repeals a statute validating notarial acts performed by judge advocates of the United States Army (57 P.S. § 65).
  10. Repeals the statute naming The Notary Public Law (57 P.S. § 147).
  11. Repeals the prior statute authorizing the Secretary of the Commonwealth to issue Notary commissions (57 P.S. 148). Repeals the prior statute giving the qualifications to become a Notary (57 P.S. 149). (Note: certain prior qualifications carry over to the new chapter.)
  12. Repeals the prior statute stating that certain judicial officers and members of Congress and certain other individuals are disqualified to be Notaries Public (57 P.S. § 150).
  13. Repeals the prior statute providing the process for applying to become a Notary (57 P.S. § 151). (Note: some provisions are retained in the new chapter while others have been repealed.)
  14. Repeals the prior statute requiring Notaries to notify the Department of State in the event of a change of office address (57 P.S. § 153). (Note: the provision in the repealed statute stating that a Notary who neither resides nor is employed in Pennsylvania shall be deemed to have resigned has also been repealed, but given that the qualifications to be a Notary under the new chapter are largely the same as before, by inference this provision would still apply.)
  15. Repeals the prior statute stating the requirements for filing the Notary’s bond, commission and oath of office (57 P.S. § 154). (Note: certain provisions are carried over to the new chapter or modified and others are eliminated).
  16. Repeals the prior statute providing the requirements for filing the Notary’s signature with the prothonotary (57 P.S. § 155). (Note: this section is largely carried over into the new chapter.)
  17. Repeals the prior statute requiring the Notary to inform the Department of State of a change of name (57 P.S. § 156).
  18. Repeals the statute providing definitions of personal knowledge and satisfactory evidence of identity (57 P.S. § 158.1).
  19. Repeals the prior statute providing rules for keeping a register and for providing copies of the register (57 P.S. § 161). (Note: some provisions make their way into the new chapter.)Repeals the prior statute providing the authorized notarial acts Notaries may perform (57 P.S. § 162) (Note: obviously, most of the authorized acts in the old law are carried over into the new chapter.)
  20. Repeals the prior statute stating disqualifying interests for which Notaries must decline to notarize (57 P.S. § 165).
  21. Repeals the former fee statute (57 P.S. § 167). (Note: Most of the repealed statute is carried over into the new chapter.)
  22. Repeals the former statute authorizing the Secretary of the Commonwealth to pursue administrative action against Notaries and provisions related to hearings for the adjudication of these actions (57 P.S. § 168).
  23. Repeals the prior statute requiring the disposition of the Notary’s seal in the event the Notary resigns, an application for renewal is rejected, the Notary’s commission is revoked or if the Notary dies (57 P.S. § 168.1).
  24. Repeals the prior statute stating the Secretary may revoke the commission of a Notary for issuing a check to any state agency with insufficient funds (57 P.S. § 168.2 and 169).
  25. Repeals the prior statute authorizing the Department of State to promulgate rules to enforce the prior Notary Public Law (57 P.S. § 169).
  26. Repeals the prior statute containing a section in The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P.S. § 240.18A(1)(i).
Analysis:
Pennsylvania enacts the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) published by the Uniform Law Commission. Consistent with the other states enacting the RULONA preceding it, Pennsylvania has chosen to write existing statutory provisions into the new Chapter 3 of Title 57 of the Pennsylvania Statutes, while also bringing in most of the stock RULONA provisions. All in all, HB 25 represents a massive overhaul of Pennsylvania’s Notary laws which were last amended substantively in 2003. In 2003, the statute was amended to require Notaries to take a mandatory education course. However, due to a loophole in the wording of the statute, a court case went all the way up to the Supreme Court and the Court ruled that only first-time Notaries and Notaries who renewed their commissions after the law took effect had to take the mandatory course. Notaries who were commissioned prior to 2003 never had to take an educational course. Happily, the statute giving rise to this court case has been repealed and under the new law all Notaries must take an educational course of at least 3 hours when they renew their commissions.
 
HB 25 also introduces provisions that were not in the RULONA or prior statute repealed under HB 25. The new law allows a Notary to refuse to perform a notarial act if a signer’s signature does not substantially conform to the signature on the ID presented to the Notary. In addition, the new law permits a Notary to refuse to notarize if the physical appearance of the signer does not substantially conform to the ID presented as satisfactory evidence. An interesting tidbit: All four states that have now enacted the RULONA had major players involved in drafting the RULONA. Two states had Uniform Law commissioners serving on the drafting committee (North Dakota and Pennsylvania), the American Bar Association’s representative to the RULONA was from another (Iowa), and a Notary Public Administrator of another served as an observer to the drafting of the Act (Oregon).
 
The bill takes effect in stages. Provisions allowing the Department of State to approve courses to fulfill the basic and continuing education requirement take effect immediately, as do provisions authorizing the Department of State to promulgate regulations to implement the RULONA. That much is clear. The rest of the Act takes effect 180 days after the Department of State publishes a notice in the official Pennsylvania Bulletin that courses have been approved. It is unclear just when this notice will be published. Will it be published when some or all education providers have had their courses approved? Presumably it may take weeks to months until this notice is issued. Once the notice has been issued, the rest of the bill takes effect 6 months later.
 
HB 25 also enacted the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act. A separate New Law Alert will be forthcoming for this enactment.
 

Knowledge Center