WI Senate Bill 365 | NNA
Law

WI Senate Bill 365

Notary Law Update: WI Senate Bill 365

State: Wisconsin

Summary:

Wisconsin enacts the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (UUFDA) published by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Subject to the limitations prescribed in the Act, the UUFDA permits a person living or traveling outside of the U.S. who must sign a sworn statement to make the statement under penalty of perjury without having to appear before a Notary or U.S. consular officer to take an oath or affirmation. 

Signed:  March 15, 2010

Effective:  March 30, 2010

Chapter: Act No. 166

Affects:

Adds Section 887.015 to the Wisconsin Statues

Changes:
  1. Defines an “unsworn declaration” as a declaration in a signed record that is not given under oath, but is given under penalty of false swearing.
  2. Prescribes that if a Wisconsin law requires or permits use of a sworn declaration, an unsworn declaration has the same effect as a sworn declaration, provided that at the time of making the declaration the declarant is physically located outside the boundaries of the United States, whether or not the location is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
  3. Clarifies that the law does not apply to a declaration by a declarant who is physically located on property that is within the boundaries of the United States and subject to the jurisdiction of another country (e.g. a foreign embassy located in the U.S. or the United Nations) or a federally recognized American Indian tribe.
  4. Disallows the use of unsworn declarations with the following sworn declarations: (a) a deposition, (b) an oath of office, (c) an oath required to be given before a specified official other than a notary public, (d) declaration to be recorded pursuant to s. 706.06, 706.07, or 706.25; and (e) an oath required under s. 853.04 (on a self-proved will).
  5. Permits a sworn declaration to be made in an electronic or tangible (e.g. paper) medium.
  6. Prescribes the form for an unsworn declaration.
Analysis:

Wisconsin enacts the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (UUFDA) published by the Uniform Law Commission (National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws [NCCUSL]). The prefatory note from the Act states the purpose of the Act: “Declarations of persons abroad are routinely received in state and federal courts and agencies. Many of the declarations are affidavits and other documents sworn to by declarants before authorized officials in United States embassies and consulate offices. Affiants in foreign countries with information relevant to U.S. proceedings or transactions could visit the U.S. consular office to finalize their affidavit or statement in a manner similar to a person within the U.S. visiting a notary public. In recent years, though, particularly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, access to U.S. embassies and consulates has become more difficult because of closings or added security. Thus, obtaining appropriately sworn foreign declarations for court or agency use is much more difficult in the post-9/11 environment. The Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (UUFDA) was promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission at its Annual Meeting in 2008 to address this situation and to harmonize state and federal law.”

The UUFDA essentially allows any sworn declaration (a signed record made under oath) to be made by an unsworn declaration (a signed record made under penalty of perjury).

The NNA was an observer to the drafting of the UUFDA and urged that the scope of the Act be construed as narrowly as possible. The NNA cautioned that a wider applicability of the Act would essentially divest Notaries of their essential function as oath-administering officials within the United States. Fortunately, NCCUSL agreed and limited the Act to foreign sworn declarations and not those made within the physical boundaries of the U.S. Thus, sworn declarations made in a foreign embassy located in the U.S. or on an Indian reservation within the U.S. cannot be made by an unsworn declaration. In addition, sworn declarations related to real property that are destined for a county recorder and self-proving affidavits related to last wills that must be made abroad, are likewise excluded from the UUFDA.

Read the bill text.

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