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New rules for Illinois Notary seals, certificates and fees

Illinois flag with 'New Illinois Notary Laws' tag

Part 4 in our series looking at the new Illinois Notary laws and how they affect Notaries in the state. Previous articles can be found here:

Part 1: Illinois new Notary law overview

Part 2: Illinois new Notary journal rules

Part 3: Illinois traditional and electronic commission changes

Most people would prefer not to go to a dentist — and, if they were honest, to a Notary. Because going to a dentist is necessary for our health, we choose one who follows generally accepted dentistry standards to diagnose, treat, and prevent dental problems. And because notarization is needed for many transactions, we want a Notary who follows professional standards that make our documents more trustworthy.

In our continuing series on the new Illinois Notary laws effective July 5, 2023, we’ll look at some new standards for performing notarial acts that will create greater trust in notarized documents.

New Illinois Notary seal standards

Let’s look at the new laws for an Illinois Notary’s official seal. The first thing to note is that Notary seals must now contain the Notary’s commission ID number and the commission expiration date must be expressed as the month, one- or two-digit day, and complete year (e.g., January 1, 2024). Current Notaries can use their existing seals through the end of their current commission but must obtain a seal with this new information when they renew their commission.

Most new laws for the Notary seal regard its security and protection. The Notary seal is the exclusive property of the Notary. If you lose your seal or someone steals it, you must report it to the Secretary of State Index Department the next business day. You must obtain a replacement that looks different from the lost or stolen seal. If the lost or stolen seal is found after a report is filed, you must destroy it.

Notaries must not allow anyone else to use their seal. You may not surrender it to an employer when you leave a job. This latter new law was at issue in the famous Illinois legal case, Vancura v. Katris. In that case, real property documents were forged using an Illinois Notary’s seal. The Notary denied notarizing the documents and did not know how his seal got on the documents. But he did say that when he left his job, he turned his journal and seal in to the store manager. This case may have been part of the reason this particular provision was created.

Finally, the new law provides that when a Notary attaches a separate notarial certificate form to the signature page of a document or when there are attachments following the notarial certificate page, Notaries can add a second seal impression partially on the notarial certificate and partially on the signature page or attachment. When the partial seal impressions on the pages are lined up, the full seal impression may be seen. This adds a layer of security that makes it less likely someone will try to separate it from the original document and use it on another one.

New rules for signing and attaching a notarial certificate

Moving on to standards for notarial certificates, a new rule requires Notaries to secure certificates to the document. Staples are the best way, but using grommets or another permanent, tamper-evident method to bind the certificate to the document is allowed. The new law makes it clear that using paper clips, tape, or binder clips is prohibited.

When Notaries sign a notarial certificate, the new law requires the signature to be legible and recognizable. The signature must be easily readable and allow the full name of the Notary to be clearly discerned by looking at it. If the signature is not legible, then the law requires the Notary to print their name legibly immediately adjacent to the scrawled signature.

Standards for new notarial acts

Finally, there are several new requirements governing how notarial acts are performed. The new law adds a new notarial act: certifying that a paper printout of an electronically notarized document is a true copy. This could be done if, for example, a real estate document must be recorded with the county, but the county does not accept electronic filings. In performing this type of copy certification, the Notary must have:

  • Reasonably confirmed the electronic document is in a tamper-evident format.
  • Detected no changes or errors in the electronic signature or other information in the electronic document.
  • Personally printed or supervised the printing of the electronic document.
  • Not made any changes to the electronic document or paper printout other than to complete and attach the notarial certificate.

Another new statute addresses the issue of Notaries providing unauthorized legal assistance to document signers. 5 ILCS 312/6-14(k) prohibits a Notary from explaining, certifying, or verifying the contents of any document, unless the Notary is an attorney.

A new rule accommodates signers who cannot physically sign their names. They can have another person sign the document for them. The person signing the document must be present before and identified by the Notary. The Notary must write or type the following statement near the proxy signature: “Signature affixed by (name of individual) at the direction of (name of person physically unable to sign) in accordance with 14 Ill. Adm. Code 176.610.”

Illinois Notary fee changes

Finally, several new laws address the fees Notaries may charge. First, Notaries get a raise. The maximum fee for a traditional notarization increases from $1 to $5 and Electronic Notaries can charge up to $25 for an electronic notarization. Before any fee is charged, the Notary or Electronic Notary must inform the principal of the fee.

The new law also states that if a Notary charges a “clerical” fee, that fee must be separately itemized in the journal. The rule, however, does not explain what is meant by a clerical fee. However, one example of a clerical fee might be a fee to print out a paper copy of an electronic record for copy certification, as described earlier. Notaries must itemize notarial and clerical fees and provide itemized receipts to customers and keep records for fees accepted.

Bill Anderson is Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Notary Association.


Additional Resources:

Become an Illinois Notary


9 Comments

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Marlon

24 Jul 2023

Do the fees and rules applies to mobile notary the same way?

National Notary Association

24 Jul 2023

Hello. The IL statutory fee schedule applies to all Notaries in the state.

Sandy

24 Jul 2023

I am a notary in Illinois. Do I have to charge a notary fee? I work for the City with a very small population and we currently don't charge a fee.

National Notary Association

24 Jul 2023

Hello. No, Notaries are not required to charge a fee in Illinois.

Cheryl

25 Jul 2023

Can you provide an example of the Notary Journal with these new requirements please?

B Johnson

14 Sep 2023

When performing a remote ink-signed notarization, do we manually write/insert that the notarization was performed remotely on the certificate? Or is there a new certificate indicating this?

National Notary Association

18 Sep 2023

Hello. Please see Section 176.30 of the Illinois Administrative Code, which prescribes notarial certificate forms for remote notarizations: https://ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/014/014001760H07300R.html

Suzy

27 Nov 2023

Is the $5 fee for the whole document, or per signature and stamp? Also I can't find anything for travel fee for Illinois. If it's not set by the state, can I make my fee and just make sure I state to the signer that I am setting a travel fee and they need to agree to it before hand?

National Notary Association

04 Dec 2023

Hello. The maximum statutory fee of $5 in Illinois is for each notarial act performed (5 ILCS 312/3-104[a]). Illinois does not provide guidelines addressing travel fees.

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