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FAQ: Pennsylvania’s New Notary Procedures

FAQ: Pennsylvania's New Notary Procedures

Updated 10-26-17. Notaries in the Keystone State have a lot of questions about the new required practices and procedures now in effect. The National Notary Association put together this handy FAQ to help guide you through the transition. If you have a question that does not appear on this list, send it to us at publications@nationalnotary.org.

What is signature witnessing and how is it different from an acknowledgment?
 

The new Pennsylvania law introduces an additional type of notarial act, witnessing or attesting a signature. Signature witnessing requires the signer to personally appear before the Notary and be identified through personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence. For a signature witnessing, the individual appearing before the Notary is always required to sign the document in the Notary’s presence. The Notary then completes the certificate wording for witnessing a signature as required by section 316 of the new law

What information must be included in a Notary’s journal under the new law?
 

Under the new law, a Notary’s physical journal must be a bound book with numbered pages. An electronic journal must be in a tamper-evident format complying with Department of State regulations. 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 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

Can I continue to use my current Notary journal under the new law?
 

You will need to make sure that your current journal meets the requirements of the new law (such as being bound and having numbered pages for a physical journal) and you are able to record all the required information described above. If so, you may continue to use your current journal.

If your journal does not meet the required standards of the new law, you may continue to use it as long as you hold a current commission when the new law takes effect. Once you fill up your journal, you will need to purchase a new, compliant journal.

NNA journals are compliant with the requirements of the new Pennsylvania law.

What PA Notaries need to know about renewing their commissions
 

After the effective date, every Notary renewing their commission must take an approved education course regardless of their level of experience. Additionally, a renewing Notary who lets their commission lapse even a single day will be required to pass an exam.

How does PA’s new law affect office Notaries and their bosses?
 

Under the new law, the employer may limit Notary services during business hours to only business related documents. Also, all fees collected during business hours would be remitted back to the employer. Finally, you may be responsible for reimbursement of commissioning costs if you are fired or quit during the commission term. 

Can I still use my current seal and certificates?
 

If you are commissioned before October 26, 2017, you will be able to use your same seal of office and journal until you renew your commission. The new law includes new notarial certificate forms. You may use these or any other forms that substantially complies with the law. You can obtain the certificates from the Department of State’s website, the NNA, or another authorized vendor.

Why does Pennsylvania’s required Notary course currently focus on the new law (effective October 26, 2017) rather than current law?
 

In the months leading up to the October effective date, the Pennsylvania required course and test focus solely on the new law. But in the interim, newly commissioned Notaries will be operating under the old law. This is expected to cause some confusion, but the Commonwealth does not want to commission a large group of Notaries who are unaware of the new practices and procedures.

If I follow the new law, will I comply with current law?
 

Yes, but with a few exceptions. Many of the provisions of the new law comply with or exceed the requirements of current law. However, some new provisions, like the “signature witnessing” notarial act, are not permitted until the October effective date. Also, certifying copies of public records is prohibited under the current law, but will be allowed in the new law.

How do I find out how to comply with current law?
 

Visit the Pennsylvania Department of State’s What To Know About RULONA information page, Check out the full text of the legislation, or take the NNA’s approved course, or a course authorized by the Department of State.

Phillip Browne is Vice President of Communications for the National Notary Association.

PA RULONA Training

 

30 Comments

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Kim Petro

16 May 2017

What is the difference between signature witnessing and what we do now? Every time I do an acknowledgement or affidavit, etc. I an witnessing someone sign their signature. I am confused.

Janette Burhans

20 Jun 2017

I have the same question, Kim Petro. :) Can someone please differentiate between the two -- signature witnessing vs individual (or corporate) acknowledgement?

National Notary Association

20 Jun 2017

Hello. Please see the following links for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2017/04/new-pennsylvania-law-notarize http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Resources/Documents/LAWS/RULONA,%20Act%2073%20of%202013,%20as%20amended,%20October%202016.pdf

Ray P

13 Jul 2017

Neither of those links answers the question.

Quandra Nickols

24 Aug 2017

In Pennsylvania am I required to start a new journal every time I renew my license/commission?

National Notary Association

25 Aug 2017

Hello. You only have to turn in your existing journal to the state if you wait more than 30 days from the date of your previous commission expiring to renew. If you renew within 30 days of the expiration of the previous commission, you may continue to use your existing journal.

Roz

14 Sep 2017

do i have to renew my notary seal i had it for 12 years now

National Notary Association

15 Sep 2017

If you are currently commissioned before October 26, 2017, you will be able to use your same seal of office until you renew your commission.

Stephen Klemash

23 Sep 2017

Can anyone email me the link to read the notary law regarding a request to review my journal? A will I notarized 3 years ago is being contested.My boss " attorney " is refusing to allow my journal inspection. I am beginng to wonder why..Thx.email me Please! I sense trouble ahead...callallphase@aol.com

National Notary Association

25 Sep 2017

Is this the article you are looking for? How To Handle Requests For Your Notary Journal Entries: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/03/3-important-tips-notary-journal-records

liz

04 Oct 2017

it sucks that the last 2 employers of mine, keep my notary fees, but im required to put the fee i charged in the book, BUT I DONT KEEP IT } SO TECHNICALLY I SHOULDNT HAVE TO PUT ANY FEE THERE THT I DIDNT COLLECT/KEEP. And my last 2 employers didnt pay shit towards my commission or my e&o insurance. Just another way for employers to rip their notary employees off!!!!!

Lisa

16 Oct 2017

I don't keep a journal in PA now. I am only notarizing motor vehicle titles. Under the new law must I begin keeping a journal in PA?

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2017

“Every notary public shall keep and maintain custody and control of an accurate chronological register of all official acts by that notary done by virtue of that notary’s office, and shall, when thereunto required, give a certified copy of the register in the notary’s office to any person applying for same” (57 PS 161[a]).

Marilyn

30 Oct 2017

So under the new law, if I have to notarize a document for my coworkers, I have to require them to provide their home address for my journal? Is that correct?

National Notary Association

30 Oct 2017

Hello. Section 319 of the new law says that Notaries must include "The full name and address of each individual for whom the notarial act is performed" in the journal entry.

Anita Brooks

30 Oct 2017

I'm so confused. I renewed in April 2017. What am I supposed to do, if anything? Do I just wait until 2021 when my next renewal rolls around. Please advise.

National Notary Association

30 Oct 2017

Hello. You will need to take an approved education course within six months prior to your next renewal date. For more information please see here: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Resources/Documents/LAWS/RULONA,%20major%20changes%20for%20website%204-29-2017.pdf

William Labkoff

30 Oct 2017

Nothing in PA law states "you may continue to use your existing journal....until it is filled up". Until the proposed Regulations become effective, I suppose "continue to use existing journal seems to be a "permissible" thing to do. However, proposed Regulation 167.32 (g)specifically states: "A notary public who holds a commission on the effective date of this section may continue to use his (her) journal until the expiration of that commission, which may occur after the effective date of this section." Upon renewal of a commission, a new journal will be required.

Elaine Craig

30 Oct 2017

I have just retired. I do not plan to continue notarizing documents. Are there any consequences for me if I do not take the new course?

National Notary Association

30 Oct 2017

Hello. If you do not plan to renew your Notary commission you will not be required to take the new education course.

Brooke

18 Dec 2017

Can you please tell me why the register has changed from being able to enter 1,000 to now only 500? Can the old register be purchased somewhere and if so, where? Thank you for your help.

Brooke

18 Dec 2017

Can you please tell me why the register has changed from being able to enter 1,000 to now only 500? Can the old register be purchased somewhere and if so, where? Thank you for your help.

Leslie Bradley

18 May 2018

hypothetically, notarizing for a business, if there was ever an audit, is the individual who notarized just responsible or is the business responsible as well?

National Notary Association

18 May 2018

Hello. We're sorry, but we cannot give legal advice. Any questions about whether or not a business is legally responsible for a Notary's conduct in a specific situation would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

rad

03 Jan 2019

I have customer who bring documents that have on the top left of the paper state: not my state County: not my county my question is: do I need to cross that state and put PA and my county or leave it like is

National Notary Association

04 Jan 2019

Hello. If you are referring to the venue section of the Notary certificate wording, then you would need to line through the incorrect information, enter the correct location where the notarization takes place, and then initial and date the correction. However, if you are referring to information in the main body of the document (ie a part of the document other than the Notary certificate wording) then you should not change that information, because the Notary may only complete and correct the notarial certificate wording.

Charles Wynn

31 Jan 2019

How long do I have to keep my notary registry?

National Notary Association

06 Feb 2019

Hello. Pennsylvania Notaries must keep their registries until their commission permanently ends. The Notary must then deliver the registry to the recorder of deeds in the county where the Notary last maintained an office within 30 days of the commission ending (57 Pa.C.S. 319[e]).

Lori Donahue

05 Mar 2019

Question....I moved to a neighboring county in November of 2017, and forgot to change my address for my notary, can I still Notarize a document?

National Notary Association

06 Mar 2019

Hello. PA Notaries must notify the Department of State within 30 days of any change in the information on file with the Department, including the notary’s office address or home address. Such notice must be made in writing or electronically and shall state the effective date of such change. For more information, please see here: https://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/NotaryServices/Pages/Update-Information-.aspx

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