A new state law on Notarial Acts becomes effective on July 1, 2018. This article summarizes the effects for Notaries Public:
1. Journals. RCW 42.45.180 requires all notary publics to maintain a journal, except for lawyers, for whom it is optional if they keep the same information in their professional practice. Each entry must contain the following information:
a) date and time of act;
b) brief description of the document/act being notarized;
c) name and address of the signing parties;
d) description of method of identifying signing party (i.e. driver’s license, passport, etc.); and
e) the signing party’s signature; i.e. the signing party must sign the document and the journal.
An entry in a journal must be made contemporaneously with the performance of the notarial act and contain the information listed above.
The journal and notary seal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public. Failure to secure the journal may be cause for the director to take administrative action against the commission held by the notary public. If a notary public’s journal is lost or stolen, the notary public shall promptly notify the department on discovery the journal is lost or stolen.
The journal must be kept for 10 years after the date of the last dated entry. After ten years have passed, the journal must be destroyed by secure shredding.
A notary may maintain an electronic journal in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format complying with the rules of the director, but they must also keep a tangible journal.
2. Resignation/Revocation/Suspension. If a notary public resigns, is suspended or their commission is revoked, the notary public shall retain the notary public’s journal and inform the department where the journal is located.
3. Additional Changes:
• New notary stamps must include commission number. This new requirement does not take effect until the notary’s renewal date.
• Notaries may accept identification that is less than three years expired.
• Notaries may not notarize any document that gives them or their spouse a beneficial interest; they also cannot notarize their own signature.
• Notarial certificates must be in English, or in two languages so long as one is in English.
• Non-attorney notaries are specifically barred from giving legal advice, for example, regarding whether there is an issue with the notarial certificate.
4. Electronic Notarizations. Notaries will, in the future, be allowed to perform notarizations on electronic documents with an Electronic Records Notary Public endorsement. There is a $15 application fee, separate from the commission application fee, to become an E-Records Notary Public. Approval standards are a work in progress. The endorsement lasts for the duration of the notary’s commission. Tamper-evident technology is required that allows the notary’s signature and seal to be digitally affixed to the document. Full legal requirements for e-notarizations are not yet complete.