WBK Industry News - State Regulatory Developments

MA Amends Notarial Acts to Adopt Remote Notarization

Massachusetts recently amended provisions relating to notaries public to allow for remote notarization.  These provisions include, among other matters, requirements for electronic notarial seals and journals, initial requirements and ongoing obligations for the notary public to operate remotely, and technological standards to perform notary acts and maintain records.

Effective June 27, 2023, the amendments permit the use of journals in electronic format and electronically generated notarial seals.  When used, an electronic notarial seal must include (i) the address of the notary and each principal and witness and (ii) the words “Electronically affixed.”

Effective January 1, 2024, among other matters, the amended provisions:

  • establish standards by which notaries public physically located in Massachusetts may perform a notarial act using communication technology;
  • prohibit the use of communication technology to notarize a record relating to the electoral process, will, or codicil;
  • impose initial requirements for notaries public to perform a notarial act using communication technology;
  • require a certificate of a notarial act to indicate that a notarial act was performed remotely;
  • impose a ten-year record retention requirement;
  • create a process for notaries public to make available electronic copies of pertinent electronic journal entries;
  • require the state secretary to establish standards for the use of communication technology and identity proofing;
  • permit the state secretary to adopt rules regarding the performance of the notarial act; and
  • create requirements for providers of communication technology, identity proofing, or storage.

Additionally, the amendments allow notaries public to select tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records, require the state secretary to establish standards for approving tamper-evident technologies, and establish a tangible copy of an electronic record equivalent to the original document.