The National Notary Association offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about the impact of the new North Dakota Notary laws. To obtain the critical information you need to comply with these new requirements and avoid personal liability risk, select Webcast OnDemand new-law education at right..

General

When do the new laws take effect?

If I notarized a document prior to August 1, 2011, is the document still valid after the new laws take effect?

When do the electronic notarization provisions in the new law take effect?

Qualifications and Commissioning

Have the qualifications for becoming a Notary changed?

Do I have to obtain a new Notary commission when the new laws take effect?

If I have an existing commission do I follow the old or new laws when notarizing documents?

Do I still have to obtain a Notary bond?

Do I have to obtain a new bond for my existing commission on August 1, 2011?

Identifying Signers

How do I identify a document signer for a notarial act?

What types of identification documents can I accept to identify a signer?

Must I identify a document signer if I am certifying a copy of a document and not notarizing a signature?

Notarizing Documents

Are there any new powers granted to a Notary or notarial officer by the new law?

May I notarize for a signer who is not physically present?

May I refuse to perform a notarial act?

May I notarize for someone who is physically unable to sign his or her name?

May I complete a notarial certificate in advance of the signer appearing before me?

Stamp and Stamping Device

Must I use a Notary seal or stamp?

What is the "stamping device" described in the new law?

Do I have to obtain a new "stamping device" on August 1, 2011?

What are my responsibilities with respect to my "stamping device"?

Can my employer retain my seal if I terminate employment?

Electronic Notarization

May I perform an electronic notarization?

The new law says I must use a "tamper-evident" technology to perform electronic notarizations? What is that?

Disqualifications and Prohibited Acts

May I notarize for my spouse?

What should I say to a document signer who asks me to assist him in completing his document?

May I advertise that I am a "Notario" or "Notario Publico" to Spanish-speaking customers?

May I retain or withhold access to a document after I have notarized it?

General

When do the new laws take effect?

The new laws take effect on August 1, 2011. The electronic notarization provisions take effect on August 1, 2013.

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If I notarized a document prior to August 1, 2011, is the document still valid after the new laws take effect?

Yes, the new law clarifies that the provisions of the new Chapter 44.6-1 do not affect the validity and effect of a notarial act performed before the effective date of the new law.

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When do the electronic notarization provisions in the new law take effect?

The electronic notarization provisions take effect August 1, 2013.

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Qualifications and Commissioning

Have the qualifications for becoming a Notary changed?

No, the commissioning qualifications remain the same.

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Do I have to obtain a new Notary commission when the new laws take effect?

No; if you have a current commission in force on August 1, 2011, you may continue to notarize under the authority of that commission until the commission expires.

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If I have an existing commission do I follow the old or new laws when notarizing documents?

You must follow the new laws contained in Chapter 44-6.1 when notarizing documents on or after August 1, 2011. The new law specifically states that the Secretary of State may suspend the existing commission of any Notary who does not comply with the provisions of Chapter 44-6.1.

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Do I still have to obtain a Notary bond?

Yes, a surety bond or other "assurance" that is functionally equivalent to a surety bond in the amount of $7,500 is required.

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Do I have to obtain a new bond for my existing commission on August 1, 2011?

No, you do not have to obtain a new bond, because the bond you have filed for your current commission remains in force until the expiration of the current commission.

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Identifying Signers

How do I identify a document signer for a notarial act?

You can use your personal knowledge of the individual, accept certain identification documents, or rely upon the oath or affirmation of a credible witness who knows the document signer and who presents a state-approved ID card or is personally known to the Notary.

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What types of identification documents can I accept to identify a signer?

You can accept a passport, driver's license or government-issued non-driver ID that is current or not expired by more than 3 years, or accept another government ID that contains the individual's signature or photograph, is current or not expired by more than 3 years and is otherwise satisfactory to you.

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Must I identify a document signer if I am certifying a copy of a document and not notarizing a signature?

No, if you are certifying a copy, the new law does not require you to positively identify the signer. However, the NNA recommends that you identify all persons requesting a notarial act.

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Notarizing Documents

Are there any new powers granted to a Notary or notarial officer by the new law?

Yes, there is a new notarial act called "signature witnessing" that all Notaries and notarial officers are authorized to perform.

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May I notarize for a signer who is not physically present?

No, the new law specifically requires a document signer to be present before the Notary or notarial officer at the time of the notarization.

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May I refuse to perform a notarial act?

Yes, in addition to refusing when a signer asks you to do something that violates the law, you may refuse to perform a notarial act if the document signer is not competent or the individual's signature is not voluntarily made. You also may refuse to perform a notarial act for cause, unless this is not allowed by provisions of the law outside of North Dakota's Notary statutes.

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May I notarize for someone who is physically unable to sign his or her name?

Yes, provided that the individual directs an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual's name on the record and the notarial officer insert specific verbiage, mandated under the new law, near the signature.

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May I complete a notarial certificate in advance of the signer appearing before me?

No; you must complete a notarial certificate contemporaneously with all other aspects of the notarial act at the time of notarization.

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Stamp and Stamping Device

Must I use a Notary seal or stamp?

If you are a Notary Public, you must use a seal or stamp. If you are a notarial officer who does not have a Notary commission, use of a seal or stamp is optional under the new law.

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What is the "stamping device" described in the new law?

The "stamping device" is the tool that creates the photographically-reproducible image of the seal required on all notarized paper or electronic documents.

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Do I have to obtain a new "stamping device" on August 1, 2011?

No; if your existing Notary seal complies with the law in effect before August 1, 2011, you may still use this seal until commission expiration.

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What are my responsibilities with respect to my "stamping device"?

You may not allow anyone else to use or retain your device; you must disable or destroy the device upon resignation or expiration of your commission; you must keep the device under your direct and exclusive control at all times; and you must notify the Secretary of State promptly if the device is lost or stolen.

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May my employer retain my seal if I terminate employment?

No; the new law specifically disallows an employer from retaining the stamping device, even if the employer paid for the device.

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Electronic Notarization

May I perform an electronic notarization?

Under the new law, you can perform an electronic notarization when the electronic notarization provisions in the new law take effect on August 1, 2013.

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The new law says I must use a "tamper-evident" technology to perform electronic notarizations? What is that?

A "tamper-evident" technology is one that shows any changes made to an electronically-notarized document after it has been signed.

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Disqualifications and Prohibited Acts

May I notarize for my spouse?

No; under the new law a Notary or notarial officer is disqualified from notarizing if the spouse has a direct beneficial interest in the transaction or if the spouse's name appears on the document as a party to it.

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As a non-attorney, what should I say to a document signer who asks me to assist him in completing his document?

You should say that you are not an attorney licensed to practice law in North Dakota and are therefore unable to draft legal documents, give legal advice, act as an immigration consultant, represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the U.S. or U.S. citizenship, or engage in activities that constitute the practice of law.

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May I advertise that I am a "Notario" or "Notario Publico" to Spanish-speaking customers?

Unless you are an attorney licensed to practice law in North Dakota, you may not advertise using these terms.

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May I retain or withhold access to a document after I have notarized it?

No; a Notary's duties are to perform the notarial act and, when completed, return the document to the signer or party designated by the signer. However, if the Notary is also an attorney licensed to practice law in North Dakota, the attorney may retain a document for purposes consistent with the performance of legal services.

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