ACT 73 will be implemented in several phases. Following is a side-by-side comparison of the new law and the former law relating to the fees charged by notaries and what this change means for notaries public in Pennsylvania.
NEW LAW OLD LAW
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Executing affidavits (no matter how many signatures) $5.00
Executing acknowledgments 5.00
In executing acknowledgments each additional name 2.00
Executing certificates (per certified copy) 5.00
Administering oaths (per individual taking an oath) 5.00
Taking depositions, per page 3.00
Executing verifications 5.00
Executing protests, per page 3.00
This comparison of the new and old law shows that the requirements as to fees are identical, except for the presumption (now codified) that the fees of the notary belong to the notary and not the notary’s employer unless mutually agreed by the notary public and the employer. The presumption that the notary fees belong to the notary (like the notary commission and the powers and duties therefrom) now clearly applies to all employers and not only banks, banking institutions or trust companies. The new law also makes clear that this presumption may be varied by an employment contract, wherein the notary public employee and the employer agree to another arrangement. Thus, the notary public is free to waive this rule and arrange a suitable compensation arrangement with her employer which may take the notary fees into account.
The remainder of RULONA impacting Pennsylvania notary public practice and procedure will most likely not take effect until 2015. Prior to approving new education courses and implementing RULONA in full, the Department of State plans to adopt comprehensive regulations to implement the new law. Until the regulations are finalized and the Department has approved new notary education courses that include the content of the new regulations, the remainder of RULONA will not go into effect.
After the Department has approved basic and continuing notary education courses, which will prepare notaries public for the requirements of the new law, it will issue public notice that the remainder of RULONA will take effect in 180 days from the date of the notice.
Notaries who hold or have held commissions on the date of the notice will have six months to comply with the revised education requirement if they are seeking reappointment after the 180 days has passed. New applicants for appointment and commission who apply 180 days after the date of the notice will be required to comply with the new law, including a new requirement to pass an examination covering the statutes, regulations, procedures and ethics relevant to notarial acts.
Important changes included in Act 73/RULONA which will take effect 180 days from the date of the notice that the Department has approved new notary education courses include:
- New notaries will be required to pass an examination to obtain their first commission
- All notaries seeking reappointment must complete continuing education (even those previously exempt) but will have the option of more varied continuing education courses to ensure the maintenance and enhancement of skill, knowledge and competency
- Application fee will be $42
- A new notarial act of witnessing or attesting a signature is defined in the law
- Basic forms of certificates for most notarial acts are set forth in the law
- Specific prohibitions on use of the term “notario publico” and practicing law and related new advertising requirements
- Increased enforcement and administrative penalties available to the Department for violation of the Act
What remains the same:
- The appointment and commissioning process, including:
- Notary commission is four years in length
- Senatorial endorsement of applicant is required
- $10,000 bond is required (unless changed by regulation of the Department)
- A notary must record bond, oath and commission with the county Recorder of Deeds prior to entering into duties as notary public
- A notary must register his official signature with the county Prothonotary (Clerk of Courts in counties of the second class)
- The Department will maintain a public searchable notary database (includes notaries authorized for electronic notarization)
- A notary must maintain a register of all notarial acts (now called a journal)
- A notary must require the personal appearance of a document signer before the notary
- A notary must have personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of identity of the individual appearing before the notary
- A notary must use a notary seal (now called official stamp) on all official acts of the notary