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New NY 'Foreign Language Disclaimer Law' Provides Valuable Guidance For All U.S. Notaries To Protect Consumers

In an effort to protect consumers from immigration scams, the state of New York recently passed a law regulating how non-attorney Notaries can advertise their services in foreign languages. As more states institute similar measures to combat the unauthorized practice of law, Notaries can take guidance from the New York law and follow a similar protocol to protect both yourself and your signers.

The New York law, which is designed in part to prevent Notario or other types of immigration assistance scams or abuse, requires that non-attorney Notaries who advertise in foreign languages post a disclaimer in English and the foreign language, which states that they are not attorneys and therefore not authorized to offer legal advice about immigration or other legal matters. The New York law establishes harsh penalties — including steep fines, commission suspension and commission revocation — for Notaries who violate the law.

The NNA recommends that all non-attorney Notaries, especially those working within the immigration sector, follow similar guidelines when advertising their services, whether or not their state has similar laws in place.

  1. Do not use the words “Notario” or “Notario Publico” in your advertisements, or on your business cards, website, or storefront.
  2. Include a disclaimer in both English and the foreign language in which you are advertising, which explains exactly what you are and are not authorized to do. [Check your state for language requirements; some laws require the disclaimer to be verbatim.]
  3. Include your specific fees, in both English and the foreign language.

States with restrictions regarding advertising and disclaimers include (but aren’t necessarily limited to): Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The restrictions vary from state to state, and exist as law in some states and voluntary recommendations in others. Check your Notary commissioning agency for the requirements in your state.

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