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Law

PA Senate Bill 841

Notary Law Update: PA Senate Bill 841

State: Pennsylvania

Summary:

Senate Bill 841 temporarily authorizes all Notaries Public in Pennsylvania to notarize any record for a remotely located individual using communication technology.

Signed:  April 20, 2020

Effective:  April 20, 2020

Chapter: Act No. 15

Affects:

Adds Section 5731 to Title 35 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

Changes:
  1. Defines “communication technology”, “Department of State”, “foreign state”, “identity proofing”, “outside the United States” and “remotely located individual”.
  2. Clarifies that the temporary authorization to perform notarial acts using communication technology expires 60 days after termination or expiration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency.
  3. Authorizes all Notaries to conduct notarial acts using communication technology if (a) the Notary gives notice to the Department of State as required and (b) uses a communication and identity proofing technology designated in the Department of State’s March 25, 2020, notice of the limited suspension of 57 Pa.C.S.  §306, or that is designated in a list of additional acceptable technologies subsequently adopted by the Department of State.
  4. Provides that before a Notary performs the Notary's initial notarial act for a remotely located individual, the Notary must notify the Department of State that the Notary will be performing notarial acts facilitated by communication technology and identify the technology.
  5. Provides that if the Department of State has established standards for approval of communication technology or identity proofing under 57 Pa.C.S. § 327 (relating to regulations), the communication technology and identity proofing must conform to the standards.
  6. Authorizes a Notary to use any other technology within 30 days of giving notice as required, unless the Department of State for good cause prohibits the use of the technology for failure to satisfy the requirements or determines that use of the technology should be delayed pending an evaluation of the technology.
  7. Requires a Notary who performs a notarial act using communication technology to verify the identity of a remotely located individual through (a) personal knowledge; (b) the oath or affirmation of a credible witness appearing before the Notary under 57 Pa.C.S. § 307(b) or remotely by communication technology; or (c) by two forms of identity proofing.
  8. Requires a Notary who performs a notarial act using communication technology to be able to reasonably identify a record before the Notary as the same record in which the remotely located individual made the statement or on which the remotely located individual executed the signature.
  9. Requires a Notary who performs a notarial act using communication technology or a person acting on behalf of the Notary to create an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act, including all interactions between the Notary and the remotely located individual.
  10. Requires the record notarized for a remotely located individual located outside of the United States to be filed with or relate to a matter before a court, governmental entity, public official or other entity under the jurisdiction of the United States, involve property located in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or be a transaction substantially connected with the United States.
  11. Requires the act of notarization that a Notary performs using communication technology for a remotely located individual located outside of the United States to not be prohibited by the foreign state where the remotely located individual is located.
  12. Requires the certificate of notarial act required by 57 Pa.C.S. § 315 and the short form certificate under 57 Pa.C.S. § 316 (relating to short-form certificates) to indicate that the notarial act for a remotely located individual was performed by means of communication technology.
  13. Provides that the short form certificate under 57 Pa.C.S. § 316 for a notarial act subject is sufficient for a notarial act performed for a remotely located individual if the short-form certificate is in the form provided by 57 Pa.C.S. § 316 and contains a statement substantially as follows: "this notarial act involved the use of communication technology."
  14. Requires a Notary or a guardian, a conservator or an agent of a Notary, or a personal representative of a deceased Notary to retain the audio-visual recording for a notarial act using communication technology or cause the recording to be retained by a repository designated by or on behalf of the Notary for at least 10 years after the recording is created.
  15. Provides considerations, as specified, that the Department of State must consider in adopting any regulations for notarial acts using communication technology.
  16. Authorizes a notarial officer to certify that a tangible copy of an electronic record is a true and correct copy of the electronic record.
  17. Clarifies that a recorder of deeds may accept for recording a tangible copy of an electronic record containing a notarial certificate as satisfying any requirements that the record be an original if the notarial officer executing the notarial certificate certifies that the tangible copy is a true and correct copy of the electronic record.
Analysis:

Senate Bill 841 gives a temporary broad authorization for all Pennsylvania Notaries to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals using communication technology during the COVID-19 state of emergency and for 60 days after the state of emergency is lifted. This bill supersedes the previous announcements by the Department of State suspending the personal appearance requirement for certain real estate transactions and a follow-up notice suspending it for certain estate-related documents. A Notary who performs notarial acts using communication technology must first notify the Department of State that the Notary will be doing so and use technologies that follow any standards approved by the Department. A Notary must identify a remotely located individual by personal knowledge, the oath or affirmation of a credible witness, or two forms of identity proofing. Senate Bill 841 also allows a Notary to certify that a paper printout of an electronically notarized record is a true copy.

Read the bill text.

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