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Powers of a Notary Public

     Under the amended Notary Public Law, notaries public are empowered to administer oaths and affirmations, certify copies and take depositions, affidavits, verifications, upon oath or affirmation and acknowledgments. Any person who is convicted of having willfully and knowingly made or taken a false oath, affirmation, deposition, affidavit, certification or acknowledgment before any notary public shall be guilty of perjury and subject to criminal penalties.

     When notarizing documents the notary public must include a statement showing when, where and before whom it was sworn. This statement is known as a jurat and includes the words "sworn and subscribed." Sworn means an oath was administered and subscribed means that the form was signed in the notary's presence. The date of expiration of the notary commission and the location of the office shall be placed immediately below the notary's signature. The Notary Public Law requires the notary to impress the rubber stamp seal "in a prominent place on the official notarial certificate near the notary's signature."

     Since a notary commission is granted to a particular individual, a notary public cannot delegate notarial authority to another person. A notary public's commission is not transferable, even on a temporary basis. It is prohibited to permit another person to use your notary public commission and you must safeguard your seal at all times. A notary cannot notarize his or her own signature.

     A notary's authority extends to all counties in the Commonwealth. A notary may notarize at any location in the Commonwealth. A Pennsylvania notary may not perform notarial acts outside this state.

     Notaries public in Pennsylvania may not take an application for a marriage license, issue a marriage license, or perform a civil marriage ceremony.


Limitation on Notary Public Powers

     No notary public may act as such in any transaction in which he is a party directly or pecuniarily interested.  Pecuniarily is defined as financially or monetarely.  For the purpose of this provision, none of the following shall be a "direct or pecuniary interest".

1) being a shareholder in a publicly traded company that is a party to the notarized transaction;

2) being an officer, director or employee of a company that is a party to the notarized transaction, unless the director, officer or employee personally benefits from the transaction other than on a noncontingency basis; or

3) receiving a fee that is not contingent upon the completion of the notarized transaction.


Determining the Identity of Person Appearing

     The proper method for determining the identity of a person appearing before a notary under the amended Notary Public Law is that the "officer notarizing the instrument shall know through personal knowledge or have satisfactory evidence that the person appearing before the notary is the person described in and who is executing the instrument." "Personal knowledge" as defined in the amended Notary Public Law as having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual in relation to other people and based upon a chain of circumstances surrounding the individual, which establishes the individual's identity. "Satisfactory evidence" means the reliance on the presentation of a current, government-issued identification card bearing a photograph or signature or physical description and serial or identification number or the oath or affirmation of a credible witness who is personally known to the notary and who personally knows the individual.


Certified Copy from the Register

     Section 15 of the Notary Public Law requires that every notary public “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 “give a certified copy of the register in the notary's office to any person applying for [it].” A notary public can prove that a notarial act took place by supplying a certified copy of the register entry. To make a certified copy of a record in the register, the notary public reproduces the page and attaches a certificate stating, "This is a true and correct copy from my official register."  The reproduction should be a photocopy of the entire register page containing the entry in question.