New notary laws go into effect April 1

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MARCH 25, 2004

> Notary Public Information
For further information (phone number, link to statute)

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reminds all notaries public, county clerks and interested parties that new notary fees and processes go into effect April 1.

The Michigan Notary Public Act (PA 238 of 2003) consists of the most comprehensive change in notary law in more than 150 years. The new law streamlines the application process, extends the length of new appointments by an additional two years, and creates a Notary Education and Training Fund from a portion of the fees collected by the state and county clerks.

"Notaries are an integral part of the fight to combat fraud by helping to ensure that transactions are performed in an ethical and honest manner," Land said. "This law will help to improve the quality and uniformity of notary services in Michigan."

Under the new law, active Michigan notary publics retain their commissions and are not required to reapply until their commissions are about to expire. However, beginning April 1, notaries must adhere to all the new laws including those regarding fees, restrictions and liability.

Highlights of the Michigan Notary Public Act:

  • Streamlines the application process by requiring the bond and oath upfront, eliminating the cost of printing commissions for those who do not secure a bond.
  • Establishes statewide appointments.
  • Extends notary commissions from four years to six years.
  • Removes the judicial/legislative endorsement requirement for applicants.
  • Requires notaries to read and write in English, and to be U.S. citizens, or show proof of legal presence in U.S.
  • Allows Secretary of State to conduct criminal background checks of applicants.
  • Establishes new notary crimes, including sanctions for notary employers.
  • Establishes a Notary Education and Training Fund from a portion of the fees collected by the state and the county clerk. Grants from the fund will support programs that assist county clerks and their staffs with notary responsibilities or election processes.
  • Prohibits notarization for "family members" (spouse, domestic partner, ancestor, descendant, or sibling, including in-laws, steps, or half relatives).
  • Increases maximum fee that notaries may charge for a notary act from $2 to $10.
  • Increases application fee at state level from $3 to $10, and establishes county-level application fee at $10, (except in Wayne County where the fee may be different).
  • Establishes $10 fee for a duplicate notary commission certificate to replace an original.

A notary public is an officer appointed by the Michigan Secretary of State to attest to the authenticity of a person's signature, to administer oaths, and to witness acknowledgements. Notarization on a document certifies that the person named on it appeared before the notary, displayed valid identification, and signed the document in the physical presence of the notary.

For more information on the Michigan Notary Public Act, please visit link below.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Radio actualities are available by calling the Department of State news line at (517) 241-2800.

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