MA Executive Order 455 (04-04)

Executive Order

State: Massachusetts
Signed: May 14, 2004

Effective: May 15, 2004
Chapter: N/A


The Executive Order issued by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on December 19, 2003, has been modified and became mandatory as rules of conduct for the state’s Notaries on May 15, 2004. 


Amends Executive Order 03-13.


Notary Commission

  1. Clarifies that nonresidents who conduct business on a regular basis within Massachusetts may become MA Notaries.

Satisfactory Evidence of Identity

  1. Defines “Satisfactory evidence of identity”, allowing reliance on an ID document (not described here), credible witness or personal knowledge.
  2. Clarifies that “satisfactory evidence” for a non-US citizen is defined as a passport or government-issued ID with the person’s nationality or residence, photograph and signature.
  3. For VT and NJ residents until January 1, 2008, defines “satisfactory evidence” as a valid driver’s license without a photograph presented with “other documentary proof of identity that ensures beyond question that the person has the identity claimed.”

Notarial Acts and Standards

  1. Adds the issuance of subpoenas is added to the list of authorized notarial acts.
  2. Provides that a Notary may notarize when Notary is a party to or named in document if: (a) a Notary is named for the sole purpose of receiving notices, or (b) a Notary is a MA attorney and is named as executor, trustee or in any fiduciary capacity in a document. (Employees of the attorney-Notary may also notarize under these circumstances.)
  3. Clarifies that the rule against notarizing when Notary has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a document does not apply to attorneys who receive legal fees for professional services rendered in connection with notarization.
  4. Clarifies that the rule against notarizing for relatives does not apply to family members of an attorney-Notary witnessing a will or other document prepared by the attorney.
  5. Provides that a Notary may deliver a signed and sealed notarial certificate to an attorney for attachment by the attorney on the intended document under certain prescribed conditions.
  6. Provides that delivering a signed and seal certificate to an attorney for attachment by the attorney on a document under certain prescribed conditions is an exception to the prohibition against notarizing a blank or incomplete document.
  7. Clarifies that a Notary who is not directly supervised by attorney may not perform loan closings.
  8. Clarifies that a Notary employed by a lender may notarize documents in connection with loans closed by the employer.

Certificate of Notarial Act

  1. Corrects the original jurat certificate with verbiage stating the principal signed the document in the Notary’s presence.
  2. Clarifies that use of prescribed certificates for an acknowledgment, jurat, copy certification and signature witnessing does not rule out use of other forms if: (a) a court rule, form, or a MA or federal law or regulation, allows or requires; (b) the alternate certificate is from another state and the document is to be filed or recorded in that state; or (c) the alternative form appears on a document that contains a prohibition against altering that form.
  3. Clarifies that failure of a document to contain a prescribed notarial certificate or to comply with the Executive Order does not invalidate the underlying document and should not be the basis for refusing to accept, file, record, or register the document.

Notary Seal

  1. Clarifies that use of a stamp and embosser together satisfies the Notary seal requirement as long all required information appears.
  2. Clarifies that a new seal or stamp is required for a new commission or name change.

Journal of Notarial Acts

  1. Provides that issuances of summons or subpoenas and oral oaths are notarial acts exempted from recordation in the Notary’s journal.
  2. Clarifies that multiple documents signed by the same principal in a transaction on a single date may be recorded in a single journal entry.
  3. Provides that a Notary must make a notation in the journal that a battered person’s address is not subject to public inspection.
  4. Removes the previous rule requiring presentation of a specific written request to inspect a journal entry.
  5. Provides that for cases where the serial or identification number on an ID card is the person’s Social Security number, the Notary may write the words “Social Security Number” or the acronym “SSN.”
  6. Exempts attorney-Notaries and their employees from the journal requirement, but clarifies that journal-keeping is recommended as a “best practice” for attorneys.
  7. Provides that aNotary may seek a protective order for a subpoenaed or surrendered journal.

Other Changes

  1. Clarifies that National Guard and other Reserve Component Commands are exempted from the Executive Order.

Following issuance of the original Executive Order in December of 2003, the Governor’s office was flooded with calls from attorneys, financial institutions, Notary Signing Agents, and others affected by the new notarial rules. In response, the effective date was postponed twice as the Governor’s office worked on modifications to the Order. The revised Order is largely a concession to attorneys. No fewer than 10 of the 25 changes are exemptions granted specifically to attorneys. The NNA cannot approve of many of these changes, since they strike at the integrity of the notarial process. In particular, the provision allowing a Notary to deliver a signed and sealed certificate to an attorney for attachment to a document is unprecedented. The modified Order sends a signal that attorney-Notaries are above the high ethical requirements applicable to all other Notaries. Nevertheless, some changes in the Order are welcome, including the correction to the prescribed jurat certificate (made at the recommendation of the NNA) and removal of a contradiction in the original Order involving the recording of Social Security numbers in the journal.

To read Executive Order 04-04, click Download PDF, below.

Note: Executive Order 455 (04-04) was rescinded by Executive Order 571, effective January 4, 2017.