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Notary Bulletin

New York Enacts Sweeping Non-Attorney 'Notario' Disclaimer Law To Protect Consumers

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a new law that establishes one of the country’s most far-reaching sets of requirements for Notaries who advertise their services in foreign languages.

Senate 5672, which goes into effect in March 2012, requires non-attorney Notaries who advertise in a foreign language to post a disclaimer stating that they are not an attorney and may not give legal advice about immigration or other legal matters. The disclaimer must be posted in English and the foreign language used for the Notary’s advertisement.

While many states have enacted similar disclaimer laws, most of them specifically address the use of the Spanish term Notario Publico.

The New York law goes far beyond the Notario issue by prohibiting any non-attorney Notary from using any foreign-language term that may mean or imply the Notary is an attorney. Advertisements include such things as brochures, business cards and other notices in print or electronic form.

The law requires the New York Secretary of State to draft rules that designate which foreign-language terms cross the line. The Secretary of State also is authorized to enact rules detailing how disclaimer notices are to be posted. Notaries who violate the law could be fined up to $1,000. They also could have their commissions suspended for a second violation and revoked for a third.

New York enacted the law at a time when the federal government, numerous states, the National Notary Association and consumer organizations are engaged in a nationwide campaign to protect consumers from immigration-related scams and the unauthorized practice of law.

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