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The Model Notary Act of 2022: An overview

A government building with a timeline of the Model Notary Act from 1973 to 2022

The role of the Notary Public has changed more in the past two decades than ever before. Remote communication, electronic signatures and seals, and the rise of identity theft and other sophisticated forms of fraud have posed many challenges for states striving to ensure that their Notary laws keep up with the many challenges Notaries face in the 21st century.

2023 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the National Notary Association drafting model laws to serve Notaries. In advance of this milestone, the NNA has published the Model Notary Act of 2022 — its latest legislative prototype — designed to assist legislators and policymakers create effective and workable Notary laws nationwide.

Bill Anderson Model Notary Act 2022 image

Bill Anderson

The National Notary Bulletin spoke with NNA Vice President of Government Affairs Bill Anderson, Drafting Coordinator for the 2022 Model Notary Act, to ask several questions about the Model Notary Act and get his thoughts on the important changes in the 2022 revision.

What is the Model Notary Act?

The Model Notary Act (MNA) is a blueprint lawmakers and Notary policymakers can consult and use to strengthen their state Notary laws and administrative rules. For almost fifty years now, U.S. states and jurisdictions have looked to the National Notary Association for policy recommendations to address the particular issues they have with Notaries. Since these needs evolve and laws must be updated to keep pace with the times, we publish new versions of the Model Notary Act to address these needs.

Who is the Model Notary Act for?

The MNA is primarily for legislators and Notary policymakers to use in crafting their state statutes and administrative rules and regulations. Once a state enacts the MNA or portions of it, it becomes “the law of the land” for Notaries, who then must follow the provisions of law in qualifying for a Notary commission and performing notarial acts.

How does the Model Notary Act help Notaries?

How would you feel receiving a Notary commission today and finding out that your state laws didn’t provide rules for how to fill out a notarial certificate, keep a journal or identify signers? Or learning that your state’s Notary laws have not been updated for decades — or even a century?

Before the publication of the original Uniform Notary Act in 1973, statutes and Notary rules in most states were badly out of date.

The Uniform Notary Act (UNA) and its successor, the Model Notary Act, helped change that. Many essential provisions of modern Notary laws were introduced through all NNA model acts over the years. For example, before the 1970s state laws offered Notaries no help if one of their acts was questioned in court. The UNA published the first model Notary journal provisions. Following the publication of the UNA, California and Missouri were among the first states to require Notary journals in the late 1970s and today more than 30 states have some form of journal requirement for traditional or technology-based notarizations.

Other important provisions introduced over the years through the MNA include the following:

All these provisions illustrate how the MNA of 2022 achieves two additional purposes: to protect the interests of Notaries Public and recognize the significant discretion Notaries Public exercise in performing notarial acts. It’s pretty simple: without Notaries who feel confident in doing their jobs, you won’t have notarial acts people can trust. We believe the MNA can help with both.

What’s new in the Model Notary Act of 2022?

One of the most significant changes to the 2022 MNA is structural. The Act integrates the traditional pen-and-paper and technology-based notarization provisions into one cohesive Act. Previous versions of the MNA had separate articles for these types of notarizations.

There are three reasons this is important. First, it normalizes remote notarizations and notarizations performed using electronic signatures. While we aren’t yet at the point where more technology-based notarizations are performed than paper notarizations, we sent the message in the 2022 MNA that all notarizations — those using technology and those that don’t — are equally regarded. There are no second-class citizens.

Second, the 2022 MNA will help states streamline their Notary laws. The trend over the past 5-10 years has been for states to expand their Notary statutes, which can be a good thing. But it also can also overwhelm Notaries when there are so many laws to remember. We wanted Notaries to read the Act when it becomes law in their state. So, we put the MNA on a diet. Compared to the 2010 MNA, we reduced the word count in the 2022 Act itself by nearly 10% (not including the front and back matter and legal commentary). This was an achievement when you consider we added remote notarization provisions that weren’t in the 2010 Act. We wanted to shorten the Act because we knew it would enhance readability.

Finally, Notaries will be able to better follow the law when it is enacted. The 2022 MNA is much more consistent. The structure of the Act now makes it clearer that the same rules which apply to traditional notarial acts — such as keeping a journal, advertising notarial services, not notarizing when the Notary has a conflict of interest, and charging fees for notarial acts — apply equally to all notarizations.

How was the MNA drafted?

The MNA was drafted by the NNA and reviewed by a Revision Committee that included Notaries Public, legal scholars, attorneys, technology and business leaders, Notary commissioning and regulating officials and county recorders. Their invaluable feedback on the Act was used by the NNA to produce the final draft. Then Michael Closen and Malcolm Morris, two attorneys who are widely regarded for their knowledge and publications on notarization, wrote the legal commentary to explain every section of the Act. Finally, two appendices containing model rules for states to use in their official rulemaking process and a third appendix noting major enactments of the MNA were added to the Act by the NNA.

Where has the MNA been adopted?

Since its original publication as the Uniform Notary Act (UNA) in 1973, over 40 U.S. states and territories and at least two federally recognized Native American tribes have adopted provisions from all six of the NNA model acts in whole or in part. Examples of the former include the territory of Guam, and the states of Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina. Examples of the latter include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, and Illinois.

In addition to being enacted as legislation, the MNA also has been adopted through administrative rules in two states and put into effect through executive order issued by governors of two states.

The NNA’s website contains a link to an “adoptions map” that fills in the details of these and other adoptions over the years.

Where can I find the Model Notary Act of 2022?

You can download the Model Notary Act of 2022 as a PDF.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.


Related Articles:

2022 Model Notary Act now available to support Notary officials and state lawmakers

4 Comments

Add your comment

Judi Souza, CSEO/CEI/NTP

10 Oct 2022

Question? Is the MNA available as a " "bound" publication, ie: a phamplet; and if so , how can I obtain a copy? Thank you!

National Notary Association

13 Oct 2022

Hello. At this time, a printed version of the 2022 MNA is not available to the public, but we will let readers know if this changes. You can download a PDF copy from the link in the article.

Jerome M Zeiger

10 Oct 2022

Seniors are often in assisted living situations, nursing homes, etc. Their ID's have expired and it is near impossible to get them renewed due to mobility issues. They often require wills, poa, healthcare POA, and more. In Pennsylvania, at least, expired ID's are unacceptable. Something has to be done about this.

Linda Y Willard

10 Oct 2022

I really appreciate it.

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