Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 47.1. Notaries and Out-of-State Commissioners
11/20/2019

Chapter 3. Powers and Duties.

§ 47.1-12. Powers.

Each notary shall be empowered to perform the following notarial acts: (i) take acknowledgments, (ii) administer oaths and affirmations, (iii) certify that a copy of any document, other than a document in the custody of a court, is a true copy thereof, (iv) certify affidavits or depositions of witnesses, (v) perform verification of fact, and (vi) perform such other acts as may be specifically permitted by law.

Code 1950, § 47-2.1; 1978, c. 621; 1980, c. 580; 2007, cc. 269, 590; 2011, cc. 731, 834.

§ 47.1-13. Jurisdiction; Virginia notarial powers outside the Commonwealth.

A. The powers of any notary commissioned pursuant to this title may be exercised anywhere within the Commonwealth of Virginia.

B. Any notary commissioned pursuant to this title may likewise perform notarial acts outside the Commonwealth, where such notarial acts are performed in accordance with this chapter.

C. An employee of the federal government authorized to perform notarial acts may perform notarial acts in accordance with this chapter.

D. An electronic notarial act performed in accordance with this chapter shall be deemed to have been performed within the Commonwealth and is governed by Virginia law.

Code 1950, § 47-2.1; 1978, c. 621; 1980, c. 580; 2007, cc. 269, 590; 2008, cc. 117, 814; 2011, cc. 731, 834.

§ 47.1-13.1. Notarial powers outside the Commonwealth for use in the Commonwealth.

A. Notarial acts may be performed outside the Commonwealth for use in the Commonwealth with the same effect as if performed by a notary public of the Commonwealth by the following persons authorized pursuant to the laws and regulations of other governments in addition to any other person authorized by the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth:

1. A notary public authorized to perform notarial acts under the laws of that jurisdiction;

2. A judge, clerk, or deputy clerk of any court of record in the place in which the notarial act is performed;

3. An officer of the foreign service of the United States, a consular agent, or any other person authorized by regulation of the United States Department of State to perform notarial acts in the place in which the act is performed;

4. A commissioned officer in active service with the armed forces of the United States and any other person authorized by regulation of the armed forces to perform notarial acts if the notarial act is performed for one of the following or his dependents: a merchant seaman of the United States, a member of the armed forces of the United States, or any other person serving with or accompanying the armed forces of the United States; or

5. Any person authorized to perform acts in the place in which the act is performed.

B. A document notarized outside the Commonwealth by a notary public or other person referenced in subsection A which appears on its face to be properly notarized shall be presumed to have been notarized properly in accordance with the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction in which the document was notarized.

2008, cc. 117, 814.

§ 47.1-14. Duty of care.

A. A notary shall exercise reasonable care in the performance of his duties generally. He shall exercise a high degree of care in ascertaining the identity of any person whose identity is the subject of a notarial or electronic notarial act.

B. Unless such person is personally known by the notary, identity shall be ascertained upon presentation of satisfactory evidence of identity as defined in this title.

C. A notary performing electronic notarial acts shall keep, maintain, protect, and provide for lawful inspection an electronic record of notarial acts that contains at least the following for each notarial act performed: (i) the date and time of day of the notarial act; (ii) the type of notarial act; (iii) the type, title, or a description of the document or proceeding; (iv) the printed name and address of each principal; (v) the evidence of identity of each principal in the form of either a statement that the person is personally known to the notary, a notation of the type of identification document, which may be a copy of the driver's license or other photographic image of the individual's face, or the printed name and address of each credible witness swearing or affirming to the person's identity, and, for credible witnesses who are not personally known to the notary or electronic notary, a description of the type of identification documents relied on by the notary; and (vi) the fee, if any, charged for the notarial act. If video and audio conference technology authorized under § 47.1-2 is the basis for satisfactory evidence of identity and the principal's identity has been ascertained upon presentation of such satisfactory evidence of identity, the electronic notary shall keep a copy of the recording of the video and audio conference and a notation of the type of any other identification used. The electronic notary shall take reasonable steps to (a) ensure the integrity, security, and authenticity of electronic notarizations, (b) maintain a backup for his electronic record of notarial acts, and (c) ensure protection of such backup records from unauthorized use. The electronic record of an electronic notarial act shall be maintained for a period of at least five years from the date of the transaction.

D. A notary performing electronic notarial acts shall take reasonable steps to ensure that any registered device used to create an electronic signature is current and has not been revoked or terminated by its issuing or registering authority.

E. A notary performing electronic notarial acts shall keep his record, electronic signature, and physical and electronic seals secure under his exclusive control and shall not allow them to be used by any other notary or any other person.

F. A notary performing electronic notarial acts shall use the notary's electronic signature only for the purpose of performing electronic notarial acts.

G. A notary performing electronic notarial acts, immediately upon discovering that the notary's record, electronic signature, or physical or electronic seal has been lost, stolen, or may be otherwise used by a person other than the notary, shall (i) inform the appropriate law-enforcement agency in the case of theft or vandalism and (ii) notify the Secretary in writing and signed in the official name in which he was commissioned.

1980, c. 580; 2002, c. 379; 2007, cc. 269, 590; 2008, cc. 117, 814; 2011, cc. 731, 834.

§ 47.1-15. Prohibitions.

A notary shall not:

1. Notarize a document if the signer is not in the presence of the notary at the time of notarization, unless (i) in the case of an electronic notarization, satisfactory evidence of the identity of the signer is established in accordance with § 47.1-2 or (ii) otherwise authorized by law to do so.

2. Use the official notary title or seal to endorse, promote, denounce, or oppose any product, service, contest, candidate, or other offering.

3. Notarize a signature on a document without notarial certificate wording on the same page as the signature unless the notarial certificate includes the name of each person whose signature is being notarized.

4. Affix an official signature or seal on a notarial certificate that is incomplete.

A notary shall not perform any official act with the intent to deceive or defraud.

A nonattorney notary shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting, or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act. This section does not preclude a notary who is duly qualified, trained, or experienced in a particular industry or professional field from selecting, drafting, completing, or advising on a document or certificate related to a matter within that industry or field or prevent a notary from adding a notarial certificate or electronic notarial certificate to a paper or electronic document at the direction of a principal or lawful authority.

A notary may decline to notarize a document.

Any document notarized prior to July 1, 2008, which does not have the notarial certificate wording on the same page as the signature, but otherwise appears on its face to be properly notarized, shall be deemed validly notarized.

2007, cc. 269, 590; 2008, c. 685; 2011, cc. 731, 834.

§ 47.1-15.1. Additional prohibition on advertising; penalties.

A. A notary public shall not offer or provide legal advice on immigration or other legal matters, or represent any person in immigration proceedings, unless such notary public is authorized or licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth or is accredited pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 292.2 to practice immigration law or represent persons in immigration proceedings.

B. A notary public shall not assume, use, or advertise the title of "notario," "notario publico," or "licenciado," or a term in a language other than English that indicates in such language that the notary is authorized to provide legal advice or practice law, unless such notary public is authorized or licensed to practice law in Virginia.

C. Any person who violates the provisions of subsection B is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for a first violation and a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 for a second or subsequent violation. All penalties arising under this section shall be recovered in a civil action brought by the Attorney General in the name of the Commonwealth and the proceeds shall be deposited into the Legal Aid Services Fund established in § 17.1-278.

D. Nothing in this section shall preempt or preclude additional civil, administrative, or criminal penalties authorized by law.

2014, cc. 544, 783.

§ 47.1-16. Notarizations to show date of act, official signature and seal, etc.

A. Every notarization shall include the date upon which the notarial act was performed, and the county or city and state in which it was performed.

B. A notarial act shall be evidenced by a notarial certificate or electronic notarial certificate signed by a notary in a manner that attributes such signature to the notary public identified on the commission.

C. Upon every writing which is the subject of a notarial act, the notary shall, after his certificate, state the date of the expiration of his commission in substantially the following form:

"My commission expires the … day of......,....."

Near the notary's official signature on the notarial certificate of a paper document, the notary shall affix a sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible image of the official seal, or, to an electronic document, the notary shall attach an official electronic seal.

D. The notary shall attach the official electronic signature and seal to the electronic notarial certificate of an electronic document in a manner that is capable of independent verification and renders any subsequent changes or modifications to the electronic document evident.

E. A notary's electronic signature and seal shall conform to the standards for electronic notarization developed in accordance with § 47.1-6.1.

Code 1950, § 55-116; 1980, c. 580; 2007, cc. 269, 590; 2008, cc. 117, 814; 2009, c. 160.

§ 47.1-17. Change of name.

Any notary duly registered and commissioned in this Commonwealth, who shall legally change his name during his term of office as a notary shall, after such change of name, when performing any notarial act, have written or printed in or annexed to each certificate the words: "I was commissioned notary as........," or the equivalent. However, any electronic notary public who shall legally change his name shall make application with the Secretary for a new electronic notary commission within 90 days of such legal name change.

Code 1950, § 55-117; 1973, c. 401; 1980, c. 580; 2007, cc. 269, 590.

§ 47.1-18. Notice of change of address; etc.

A. Any notary public who changes the address of his residence shall forthwith notify the Secretary of the fact by mailing or delivering a written notice which shall contain the new address, or in electronic format as the Secretary may prescribe.

B. Any notary who is commissioned as a nonresident shall notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth of any change in his place of employment.

1980, c. 580; 2007, cc. 269, 590.

§ 47.1-19. Fees.

A. A notary may, for taking and certifying the acknowledgment of any writing, or administering and certifying an oath, or certifying affidavits and depositions of witnesses, or certifying that a copy of a document is a true copy thereof, charge a fee up to $5.

B. A notary may, for taking and certifying the acknowledgement of any electronic document, or administering and certifying an oath or affirmation, or certifying electronic affidavits and depositions of witnesses, or certifying that a copy of an electronic document is a true copy thereof, charge a fee not to exceed $25.

C. Any person appointed as a member of an electoral board or a general registrar shall be prohibited from collecting any fee as a notary during the time of such appointment. Any person appointed as an assistant registrar or officer of election shall be prohibited from collecting any fee as a notary for services relating to the administration of elections or the election laws.

D. It shall be unlawful for any notary to charge more than the fee established herein for any notarial act; however, a notary may recover, with the agreement of the person to be charged, any actual and reasonable expense of traveling to a place where a notarial act is to be performed if it is not the usual place in which the notary performs his office.

1980, c. 580; 1981, c. 311; 1996, c. 219; 2003, c. 881; 2005, c. 18; 2007, cc. 227, 269, 590.

§ 47.1-20. Fee agreements with employer.

A. Any employer, as a condition of employment of a person who is a notary, may require the employee to perform notarial acts in the course of or in connection with such employment without charging the fee allowed by law for the performance of such acts.

B. Any employer may require a notary in his employment to surrender to such employer a fee, if charged, or any part thereof, provided that the notarial act for which the fee is charged is performed during the course of such employee's employment.

1980, c. 580; 2007, cc. 269, 590; 2018, c. 698.

§ 47.1-20.1. Validation of certain acts.

Oaths of office administered by a notary public on or before July 1, 1982, are hereby deemed to be valid and actions of any public officer taking such oaths are hereby deemed valid.

1983, c. 435.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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