Following the effective date of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) on October 26, 2017:
Notary Public Equipment
Notaries public commissioned in Pennsylvania are required to use an official seal to authenticate all the acts, instruments and attestations of the notary public. For paper (versus electronic) notarizations, this is a rubber stamp seal which must have a maximum height of 1 inch and a width of 3 ½ inches with a plain border.
The stamp/seal must contain, in the following order:
- The words “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”
- The words “Notary Seal”
- The name as it appears on the commission of the notary public and the words “Notary Public”
- The name of the county in which the notary public maintains an office
- The date the notary public's commission expires
- The notary commission number
The stamp will no longer contain the municipality in which the notary maintains an office. “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” is added to the stamp. The proposed regulations of the Department require the inclusion of the notary commission number on the stamp. This is an example of a RULONA-compliant stamp:
Transitional provision: A notary public who holds a commission on the effective date of RULONA may continue to use his or her existing seal until the expiration of that commission, which may occur after the effective date of both RULONA and the Department’s regulations. Full compliance with RULONA seal requirements must occur with the notary’s next commission.
Notaries may use an embosser in addition to the rubber stamp seal. However, the embosser is optional and may not replace the rubber stamp seal.
In performing a notarization, a notary public must ensure that the rubber stamp seal is stamped in a prominent place on the notarial certificate near the notary public's signature in such a manner as to be capable of photographic reproduction. The notary public's stamping device is the exclusive property of the notary public to whom it is issued. The notary public is responsible for the custody and control of the stamping device at all times and shall not permit the use of his/her seal by another person. The use of a notary public seal by a person who is not the notary public on the seal will be deemed an impersonation of a notary public and the individual will be subject to criminal penalties.
Upon resignation or on the expiration of the date set forth in the stamping device or on the death or adjudication of incompetency of a notary public, the notary public or the notary’s personal representative shall disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing or securing it against use in a manner which renders it unusable.
DO NOT send your old notary stamp to the Department unless your commission has been suspended or revoked or if you have been instructed or ordered to do so.
Transitional provision: A notary public who holds a commission on the effective date of RULONA may continue to use his or her existing journal until the expiration of that commission. Full compliance with RULONA journaling requirements must occur with the notary’s next commission.
Also called the notary register, the notary journal is where the notary public records all notarial acts that the notary performs in chronological order.
A journal may be created on a tangible medium or in an electronic format. A notary public may maintain a separate journal for tangible records and for electronic records. If the journal is maintained on a tangible medium (i.e. on paper), it must be a bound register with numbered pages. If the journal is maintained in an electronic format, it must be in a tamper-evident electronic format complying with the regulations of the Department.
Journal entries shall be made contemporaneously with performance of the notarial act and contain all of the following information:
- The date and time of the notarial act.
- A description of the record, if any, and type of notarial act.
- The full name and address (city and state) of each individual for whom the notarial act is performed.
- If identity of the individual is based on personal knowledge, a statement to that effect.
- If identity of the individual is based on satisfactory evidence, a brief description of the method of identification and any identification credential presented, including the date of issuance and expiration of an identification credential.
- The fee charged by the notary public.
EXAMPLE OF NOTARY PUBLIC JOURNAL
*1 – Acknowledgement, 2 – Verification of Oath or Affirmation, 3 – Witnessing a Signature, 4 – Copy or Deposition Certification,
5 – Oath or Affirmation, 6 - Protest
A notary journal may not contain any personal financial or identification information about the notary’s clients, such as complete Social Security numbers, complete drivers’ license numbers or complete account numbers. Terminal numbers for these types of numbers, including the last four digits of a Social Security number, may be used to clarify which individual or account was involved.
If a journal is lost or stolen, the notary public shall promptly notify the Department on discovering that the journal is lost or stolen.
When a notary no longer holds the office of notary public, the notary must deliver his/her journal to the office of the recorder of deeds in the county where the notary last maintained an office within 30 days. The journal must be delivered upon the following events:
- Resignation of the commission of the notary public
- Revocation of the commission of the notary public
- Expiration of the commission of the notary public, unless the notary public applies for a commission within that time period or
- Death or adjudication of incompetency of a current or former notary public
A journal is the exclusive property of the notary public.
A journal may not be used by any person other than the notary public or surrendered to an employer of the notary public upon termination of employment.
Inspection and certified copies of notary journals – A notary public must permit inspection of the journal to any person requesting to view the journal. A notary public can prove that a notarial act took place by supplying a certified copy of the journal entry. To make a certified copy of an entry in the journal, the notary public reproduces the page and attaches a certificate stating, "I certify that this is a true and correct copy from my official journal in my possession." The reproduction should be a photocopy of the entire register page containing the entry in question. A notary must give a certified copy of the journal to a person that applies for it.Requests may, but are not required to be, in writing. The notary public shall provide the certified copy within 10 days of receipt of the request. The notary may charge reasonable fees for copying and postage, but the requestor should be advised in advance of these fees. If the scope of the request is not clear, the notary may offer to have the requester inspect the journal at the notary’s office to identify the specific pages or dates that the requester is seeking. A request for inspection or certified copies of a notary journal made through an investigative request by law enforcement or by the Department or in a subpoena in the course of criminal or civil litigation must be complied with in the manner specified in the request or subpoena.