WV Administrative Rule (Seal, Bond, Commissioning) | NNA
Rule

WV Administrative Rule (Seal

Notary Law Update: WV Administrative Rule (Seal, Bond, Commissioning)

State: West Virginia

Summary:

A new administrative rule clarifies the information that must appear in the Notary’s official stamp, and requirements for the “assurance,” filing a change of name or address and submitting applications for commission renewal.

Signed:  May 20, 2014

Effective:  July 01, 2014

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

Adds Chapter 153-46 to the West Virginia Code of State Rules

Changes:
  1. Requires the Notary’s official stamp to include: (a) the words “Official Seal;” (b) the words “Notary Public;” (c) the words “State of West Virginia;” (d) the Notary Public’s name; (e) the Notary Public’s address; (f) the Notary Public’s commission expiration date; (g) an image of the West Virginia State Seal; and (h) a border. (Note: (a), (b) and (c) are not new; (d) through (h) represent changes or slightly different requirements than before.)
  2. Requires the Notary’s official seal to be no larger than 1 inch by 2½ inches.
  3. Clarifies that a Notary must notify the Secretary of State in writing of a change of the Notary’s name or address within 30 days of the change.
  4. Clarifies that a commissioned Notary may apply for renewal no more than 60 days prior to the expiration of his or her active commission.
  5. Clarifies that in renewing a commission, a Notary must meet all qualifications required for a first-time Notary commission.
  6. Provides that if a commission renewal is granted by the Secretary of State, the effective date will begin the day after the previous commission expires and continue for five years; provided, that all necessary approvals, including the application and proof of surety (bond or insurance), occur prior to the expiration date of the previous commission.
  7. Requires a Notary public to maintain an “assurance” in the amount of $1,000 and that a Notary may not perform a notarial act at any time during the commission term when an assurance is not in effect.
  8. Provides that a surety bond obtained to meet the requirements for the assurance must cover the entire term of the Notary public’s commission and that pursuant to West Virginia Code §6-2-7, all surety bonds will be presented to the Attorney General for review and approval.
  9. Provides that a certificate of coverage for insurance provided to meet the requirements for the assurance may be for a period shorter than the term of the Notary public, and provides that the Notary is responsible for keeping an updated copy of current coverage on file with the Secretary of State.
  10. Provides that a certificate of coverage for insurance provided to meet the requirements for the assurance must provide certification that notarial acts performed by the Notary are covered under the policy.
  11. Provides that a Notary must notify the Secretary of State, in writing, before cancelling any assurance or loss of insurance coverage.
Analysis:

Under West Virginia enactment of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), the Secretary of State was given authority to promulgate administrative rules to implement the Act. This particular emergency rule implements the requirements for the Notary’s official stamp, changes in the Notary’s name and address, and the “assurance” a Notary must provide upon application for a commission. An “assurance” is the RULONA’s term for a surety bond, insurance policy or the equivalent, such as a letter of credit. Under West Virginia’s RULONA, a Notary may file a surety bond, errors and omissions insurance policy, a professional liability policy or a commercial general liability policy.

Regarding the information required in the Notary’s official stamp, items (a), (b), (c) are not new. Items (d) and (e) are stated differently than the previous requirement. Item (f), the commission expiration date requirement, is also stated differently. Previously, the words “My commission expires (date)” were required. Now, the exact words are not required. So for example, the word “commission” could be abbreviated to save space on the stamp. Previously, item (g), the state seal, was optional; it is now required. The border required under item (h) now does not have to be a serrated border.

Related to the “assurance” requirement, the rules clarify that any surety bond submitted to meet the requirement must be issued for the full term of the commission, while an insurance policy may be for a shorter period than the full term of commission as long as the Notary maintains an insurance policy at all times during the term of commissioning. For example, if a Notary elected to file a one-year policy, the Notary would be responsible for submitting a new policy each year.

A new development that came to light in the days immediately preceding the effective date of the RULONA and this administrative rule affects the insurance policies that qualify as an assurance under the new law and rules. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office discovered a provision in West Virginia Code Section 39-4-20 which reads as follows: “If a notary public violates law with respect to notaries public in this state, the surety or issuing entity is liable under the assurance.” The Secretary’s legal counsel is interpreting this statute to apply to any violation of law. The issue is that most Notary errors and omissions policies specifically exclude intentional, criminal and fraudulent acts. Thus, the Secretary’s position is that if an insurance policy does not cover any violation, it will not meet the requirement of the law and a surety bond, which covers all violations, will have to be filed instead.

Read the text of the administrative rule.

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