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Executive Order

PA Governor Waiver of Personal Appearance (2020)

Notary Law Update: PA Governor Waiver of Physical Appearance (2020)

State: Pennsylvania

Summary:

As reported by the Department of State, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf temporarily suspended the physical appearance requirement related to the notarization of certain real estate transactions.

Signed:  March 26, 2020

Effective:  March 26, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Pennsylvania Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. Temporarily suspends the physical appearance requirement in 57 Pa.C.S. § 306 for residential real estate transactions that were already in process (e.g. agreement of sale completed for residential property and only mortgage closing needs to take place). 
  2. Temporarily suspends the physical appearance requirement in 57 Pa.C.S. § 306 for all commercial real estate transactions that were already in process as well as new transactions during the emergency period.
  3. Requires Notaries to execute all notarial acts (including acknowledgments) in these real estate transactions in accordance with all other requirements of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA).
  4. Requires implementation of the safeguards contemplated by the Uniform Law Commission in its recent amendment to the RULONA (including multilayers of identity verification, use of tamper-evident technology and an audio-video recording of the notarial act).
  5. Requires all Notaries who are using audio-visual technology as an alternative to personal appearance to (a) become an approved Pennsylvania electronic notary, (b) use an e-Notary solution already approved by the Department that offers remote notarization technology, and (c) indicate in the notarial certificate that the notarial act was performed by means of communication technology. The following statement will satisfy that requirement – “This notarial act involved the use of communication technology.”
Analysis:

In the latest action taken by a state governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf has temporarily suspended the physical presence law for certain real estate transactions. For residential real estate transactions, the suspension applies only to transactions that were already in the pipeline. No new transactions started after the date of the order can use remote online notarization to complete them. For commercial transactions, there is no limitation. Both existing and new transactions can utilize remote online notarization. This order is perhaps the most limiting of the actions taken by governors to date. Some orders limit remote online notarizations to the use of tangible documents, but otherwise do not limit the types of transactions that can be performed. In order to perform a remote online notarization in Pennsylvania under this order, a Notary must apply to become an electronic Notary by submitting an application to the Department of State at no charge (an application form is available Department's website). The Notary also must use a solution provider already approved by the Department. A list of these providers is given in the actual order, which appears below.

Read the order.

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