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5 Ways The New Pennsylvania Law Affects How You Notarize

5 Ways The New Pennsylvania Law Affects How You Notarize

Updated 10-17-17. Pennsylvania has announced a major update to its Notary laws, effective on October 26, 2017, based on the Revised Uniform Law On Notarial Acts (RULONA) and regulations implementing the RULONA. But how will these rules affect you? Here are five important changes Pennsylvania Notaries need to know about:

1. New ID Requirements
 

The new rules specify a list of IDs that you may accept, including the following:

  • A driver’s license or ID card issued by any U.S. state
  • A U.S. passport
  • A foreign passport stamped by USCIS
  • A government-issued ID document from Canada or Mexico

The new rules also clarify the requirements for using personal knowledge credible identifying witnesses.

2. Notaries May Refuse A Notarization
 

The new rules allow a Notary to refuse a notarization request:

  • If you are not satisfied the signer is competent and aware enough to understand what is being signed
  • If you are not satisfied the signer is signing voluntarily and without coercion or duress
  • If you are not satisfied the signature on the document matches the one presented on the signer’s identification
  • If you are not satisfied the signer’s physical appearance matches the photo on the ID

PA RULONA Training

3. Notarial Certificate Wording Revised
 

The new rules put in place simpler wording for each type of notarial certificate that will be easier to complete. If you’re an NNA member, you can find the new certificates by logging on to you “My NNA” account.

4. New Notarial Act Authorized
 

The new law establishes an act called “signature witnessing.” To perform this act, you verify a signer’s identity and witness them sign the document. Witnessing a signature requires the signer to personally appear before the Notary and be identified through personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence. The new act requires the individual appearing before the Notary to sign the document in the Notary’s presence, and the Notary must complete specific certificate wording for witnessing a signature as required by section 316 of the new law

5. New Record-Keeping Privacy Requirements
 

Notaries are prohibited from recording a signer’s personal financial or identification information in their journals. Examples of prohibited information include full Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or account numbers. UPDATE 10-6-17: The prohibition on recording a signer’s personal financial or identification information in their journals is part of the new Pennsylvania state regulations but has not been finalized yet. We will provide updated information on this requirement when the regulation is finalized. 

A Final Note: Renew Your Commission Early
 

If you plan to renew your commission, make sure to do so well in advance. If your commission lapses even one day, you will be required to take an exam to renew it.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

 

42 Comments

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Aaron

02 May 2017

David, I really wish you had actually done research before publishing this article. No where in all of 2013 Act 73, does it talk about signature witnessing as a notarial act. It does talk about adding attestation or witnessing a signature, but then gives notice to a short form certificate in SS 316... The new act is called witnessing or attesting a signature, but it does come with it's own notarial wording. Signature Witnessing as it is known. Is only allowed in Maryland as outlined is SS18-113 in the Maryland Notary Handbook.

Dennis Hafemann

15 Jun 2017

Can a notary, an employee of a bank deny a notarization of a form that is not a bank document? I was under the assumption and understanding that a notary can't deny a legal and proper request of notarization request based on the employers rules. "The employer does not govern the abilities of the notary" is that a true statement? Just trying to clarify the rules. I live in the state of PA. Thank you for any help in this matter.

National Notary Association

16 Jun 2017

Hello. There is a new state law going into effect in October that will permit an employer to limit Notary services during business hours to only business related documents. For more information, please see this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2017/05/faq-pennsylvania-new-notary-procedures

Carol Termine

19 Jul 2017

My notary expires 09/19/2017 and the new law requiring training for ALL notaries goes into effect 10/26/2017, does that mean I do NOT have to do the training this time but will be required at the following renewal?

National Notary Association

25 Jul 2017

Hello Carol. Yes, that's correct. You are exempt from training until 10-26-17.

Glenn

29 Jul 2017

If my notary expires on 4/15/18, can I still "early" renew prior to 10/26/17 and avoid having to do the training?

National Notary Association

03 Aug 2017

Hello, it appears you would still need to undergo training. According to PA code 322 (b) Basic education.--An applicant under subsection (a) must, within the six-month period immediately preceding application, complete a course of at least three hours of notary public basic education approved by the department

Deborah Blouch

31 Aug 2017

Hello David: Having just renewed my commission effective July 1; I'm up to date on all required training, correct?

National Notary Association

06 Sep 2017

Correct, you are up to date.

Denise

05 Sep 2017

I took my training very early to renew my commission back in February, and my commission will expire at the end September. I have not received my stamp, do I have to retake the education course again

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2017

Hello. Yes, you will need to retake your education course. Under the new law, the education course must be taken within six months prior to reappointment. For more information, see here: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Resources/Documents/LAWS/RULONA,%20major%20changes%20for%20website%204-29-2017.pdf

Debbie

13 Sep 2017

My work is telling me I need to put the drivers license number in my journal. According to #5 I understand it that we are not suppose to put that information in the journal. Am I correct?

National Notary Association

13 Sep 2017

Hello. Under the new PA law taking effect in October, Notaries are not permitted to record driver's license numbers in the Notary journal entry.

Lauren

14 Sep 2017

My employer is telling me that as a notary, I don't have to be physically present to witness the signing of the document. They are saying that I can use a witness. However, I understood that in my residing state of PA that the only witness I can use (in this case) would be an attorney. So which is it? Any witness, or only an attorney can witness if I am not present?

National Notary Association

15 Sep 2017

Hello. Pennsylvania does permit an attorney who is a member of the state bar to appear in a signer's place, but only if the attorney was personally present when the absent signer signed the document. (21 PS 291.7[5]) Otherwise, the original signer must personally appear before the Notary.

Mary Ann E. Olenick

18 Sep 2017

My commission expires 10/2/2018. I plan to retire after that date. I do not wish to renew my commission. Will I still have to take the training before my commission expires even though I will be not be renewing ?

National Notary Association

19 Sep 2017

Hello. If you do not renew your commission you are not required to undergo training.

Beth

22 Sep 2017

my commission expires 2/25/18. If I start the renewal process now will I still be required to undergo the new training since I was commissioned in 2001?

National Notary Association

22 Sep 2017

Hello, it appears you would still need to undergo training. According to PA code 322 (b) Basic education.--An applicant under subsection (a) must, within the six-month period immediately preceding application, complete a course of at least three hours of notary public basic education approved by the department.

Dawn Crossan

03 Oct 2017

i normally record the last 3 digits of the driver's license--under the new rules is it the full number that is not allowed to be recorded or any numbers?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2017

Hello Dawn. The prohibition on recording a signer’s personal financial or identification information in their journals is part of the new Pennsylvania state regulations that has not been finalized yet. We will make a note of this in the article and provide updated information when the regulation is finalized.

Debra Moyer

16 Oct 2017

I noticed in the NEW Notarial Journal that I received there is no place for the customer to sign. Does the customer not have to sign anymore?

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2017

Hello. No, a customer signature is not required in Pennsylvania. The register/journal must include the following information [Section 319]: 1. The date and time of notarization; 2. A description of the record and the type of notarial act performed; 3. The full name, and the address (city and state only) of each individual for whom the notarial act is performed; 4. The method used to identify the signer; 5. The fee charged for the notarization

Daniel Nankay

18 Oct 2017

My commission expired October 16 2018. Do I have to undergo the new training since I still have a year before renewal? And under the new law when can I apply for renewal?

National Notary Association

18 Oct 2017

Hello. Under the new law, the education course must be taken within six months prior to reappointment. For more information, see here: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Resources/Documents/LAWS/RULONA,%20major%20changes%20for%20website%204-29-2017.pdf

Sabrina

20 Nov 2017

I work in an attorney's office. If the attorney prepared a document (power of attorney) is that attorney also allowed to witness the signer as long as he or she is not the notary? Secondly, am I as a notary allowed to use the attorney as a credible witness to the signing if the signer is not physically present before me at the time of signing?

National Notary Association

21 Nov 2017

Hello. We're sorry, but we can't provide legal advice regarding your first question about the preparation of a power of attorney. However, in regard to your second question about a signer not being physically present for a notarization, the PA Department of State has said the following in its summary of the new law changes: "The rule on personal appearance remains the same under RULONA: If a notarial act relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on a record, the individual making the statement or executing the signature shall appear personally before the notarial officer. This means the customer must be physically present before the notary when the notarial act is executed. The notary and the customer must be able to see, hear, communicate with, and give identification documents to each other without the use of electronic devices. There are no exceptions, even for electronic notarization."

Lisa

25 Jan 2018

If I am a PA notary and an attorney in my office travels to Maryland to have a client sign a document and brings it back to me and certifies he saw the person sign it am I able to notarize it based on the attorney certification? If so, what do I use for the State and County? Do I use the place (Harrisburg, PA) that the attorney certified it to me? Does it make a difference that the person signed in another state?

National Notary Association

25 Jan 2018

Hello Lisa. Please contact our hotline team at 1-888-876-0827 for additional assistance with this issue.

Debra

14 Feb 2018

Can an attorney in PA attest to a clients signature

National Notary Association

14 Feb 2018

Hello. Pennsylvania has a procedure for an attorney at law acknowledging a record for a client (42 Pa.C.S. 327) and a short form certificate of acknowledgment for this act (57 Pa.C.S. 316[2.1]). The attorney must be personally present when the client signed the document.

Laurie

13 Mar 2018

In PA if notarial wording is not on the document is the Notary able to type the notarial wording on the document?

National Notary Association

14 Mar 2018

Hello. Yes you may.

Chuck

09 Apr 2018

If a notary has known me personally for decades and notarized documents for me without any problem, may that notary then state to me--upon an order of her employer (a bank)--that for any further notarizations by that notary may be done by her ONLY if I present the specified ID to her? It would seem to me that this is an improper action by the bank because it establishes the bank's (improper) supervision of a notary who is, in fact, independent in her notarial functions as established by Pa. law (while recognizing that under the law the employer bank could prohibit her from engaging in any notarial work while employed by the bank on the bank's hours). The bank, in other words, has some say as to whether she can engage in notarial work on bank hours, but it is improper for the bank to try to supersede the state's laws and regulations?

National Notary Association

10 Apr 2018

“A notarial officer may require an individual to provide additional information or identification credentials necessary to assure the notarial officer of the identity of the individual” (57 Pa.C.S. 370[c]).

Leslie Boucher

30 Jun 2018

As a Notary I verify the identity of document signers. It includes all required information under your state’s laws. I am going thru all this information’s and it is good

Vicx

28 Dec 2018

Can a ny notary witness a pa title signature on a pa title to transfer to ny

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2019

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

COLLEEN

19 Feb 2019

Is the new training done on line when you renew with NNA? or do you have to go somewhere and if so where?

National Notary Association

20 Feb 2019

Hello. The NNA is an approved provider for Pennsylvania Notary education courses. You can contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 or Services@NationalNotary.org for more information.

Debbie

25 Feb 2019

We have several notaries at our location and we have many documents that come in that are in a foreign language. Years ago, I was at a seminar and the speaker stated that we do not need to know what the document states, that we, as a notary just need to be sure that the person signing the document has proven to us that that was who they are. There are times when are staff is not comfortable notarizing these documents. Do we need to understand the language that the document is in in order to notarize it??

National Notary Association

26 Feb 2019

Please see this article for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/09/questions-for-foreign-language-issues

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