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Notary Bulletin

Major Updates Enacted To States Notary Laws

Liberty-PA.jpgPennsylvania has enacted major updates to its Notary laws, including a new education and seal requirement as well as guidelines for when a Notary may refuse to perform a notarial act.

The new law, Act 73 of 2013, was based on the Uniform Law Commission’s Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), which has been enacted in Iowa, Oregon and North Dakota. The provisions of the new law are being rolled out in stages, with some taking effect immediately, and others postponed.

The following changes takes effect immediately:

  • Authorization for the Department of State to approve basic and continuing education courses and to publish a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin when educational courses have been approved.
  • Authorization for the Department of State to publish regulations to implement the new law and to set fees charged by Notaries.

The remainder of the new law will take effect 180 days after the Department of State publishes the notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that educational courses have been approved.

Here are some of the changes that will take effect 180 days after the Department posts its public notice:

  • Applicants who do not hold a current Notary commission will be required to pass an exam to obtain their first commission.
  • Any Notary renewing a commission will have to take an approved three-hour course within a six-month period prior to renewal. Under previous state law, Notaries appointed prior to 2003 were exempt from taking a course upon renewal of their commissions.
  • A notarial officer may refuse to perform a notarial act if an individual’s signature on a document does not substantially conform to the signature on an ID used to identify the signer, or if the signer’s physical appearance does not substantially conform to the physical description on the ID.
  • A notarial officer may refuse to perform a notarial act if the notarial officer is not satisfied that a document signer is competent or if the individual’s signature is not voluntarily made.
  • New certificates for authorized notarial acts.
  • Notaries will be prohibited from using the term “notario” or “notario publico” unless the Notary is also an attorney.
  • Changes to the information contained in the Notary’s official stamp.

Additional information about the new Pennsylvania Notary law is available at the Department of State’s website.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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