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Massachusetts law about notaries public

A compilation of laws, forms, and web sources on being a notary public.

Table of Contents

COVID-19

St.2020, c.71 An Act Providing for Virtual Notarization to Address Challenges Related to COVID-19; the “Remote Notarization Act.”

St. 2021 c.20 § 7 Extends virtual notarization through December 15, 2021.

Massachusetts allows virtual notarization during the COVID-19 state of emergency, Nixon Peabody Blog, by Sarah M. Richards, Counsel, April 29, 2020.
Discusses Remote online notarization ("RON"). 

“Remote online notarization ("RON") does not allow for electronic signing of documents. "Wet ink" signatures on paper documents are still required.”

Massachusetts (temporarily!) allows remote notarization 
Article discusses requirements for remote notarizations, retention requirements, and restrictions on who can notarize.

Memo re: Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2020: An Act Providing for Virtual Notarization to Address Challenges Related to COVID-19 (the “Act”), Land Court, 05/13/2020.

Notarization in the age of COVID-19: Massachusetts adopts remote notarization law, nutter.com. Legal Advisory, April 27, 2020
Details discussing remote notarization rules, including specific considerations for real estate documents and estate planning documents, and requirements of the notarial affidavit.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.9, §15A Change of name and commission expired

MGL c.222 Justices of the peace, notaries public and commissioners

  • Section 1: Definitions.
  • Section 1A: Appointment and jurisdiction of justices of the peace and notaries public
  • Section 3: Appointment of commissioners to administer oaths of office; returns; fees.
  • Section 4: Appointment of commissioners; term.
  • Section 5: Oath; seal. 
  • Section 6: Powers and duties. 
  • Section 7: Instructions to commissioner. 
  • Section 8: Acknowledgment of instrument; printed or typed name; expiration date; official notarial seal or stamp.
  • Section 9: Acting as justice or notary after expiration of commission; penalty.
  • Section 10: Destruction of notary's records; penalty.
  • Section 11: Acknowledgments by persons in armed forces or their dependents.
  • Section 12: Exemptions from maintaining journal of notary transactions. 
  • Section 13: Qualifications; grounds for denial of application for appointment. 
  • Section 14: Term of commission.
  • Section 15: Notarial acts; forms of acknowledgment or certification; when alternate forms may be used. 
  • Section 16: Notarial acts that should not be performed; prohibited actions by notary public. 
  • Section 17: Notaries public not licensed to practice law; prohibition from offering legal advice or advertisement as legal specialist; immigration matters; real estate closings.
  • Section 18: Violations of chapter; penalties; civil cause of action and remedies; unfair or deceptive act or practice. 
  • Section 19: Duty to perform notarial act upon payment of fee; exceptions.
  • Section 20: Lawfulness, accuracy or truthfulness of document or transition involving notarial act; effect of documents not containing acknowledgement or certification; rules of land court relating to filing of documents.
  • Section 21: Advertisements for notarial services in language other than English.
  • Section 22: Chronological official journal of notarial acts; contents; exceptions from duty to maintain; examination; safeguarding.
  • Section 23: Fees not to be charged for certain notarial acts.
  • Section 24: Destruction of notary seals and stamps upon expiration, resignation or revocation of commission; retention of journal and records.
  • Section 25: Change of name or address; notice to state secretary.
  • Section 26: Revocation of commission.

MGL c.262, § 41 Fees that notaries may charge

MGL c.268, §33 Pretending to be a notary public

Recorded instruments

St.2016, c.289 An Act Regulating Notaries Public to Protect Consumers and the Validity and Effectiveness of Recorded Instruments 

Fees of notaries public

MGL c.262, Section 41: Notaries public; enumeration of fees.

Uniform electronic transactions

MGL c.110G, Section 11: Fulfillment of notarization, acknowledgement, verification, or oath requirements.  

Witnessing the opening of a bank safe, vault or box

MGL c.167, Section 32: Property deposited with bank; disposition. 

Issuing witness summons

MGL c.233, Section 1: Issuance of summonses for witnesses.

Selected case law

Richardson v. The UPS Store, Inc., 486 Mass. 126 (2020)
"The $1.25 fee cap set forth in G. L. c. 262, § 41, applies only to a particular notarial act known as "noting," i.e., a step in the process of protesting a dishonored negotiable instrument." It does not limit the fees for any other act by notaries.

Forms

To become a notary

For use by notaries

Notary journal

The journal must be a bound book with sequentially numbered pages. A journal that has entries that are sequentially numbered will satisfy this requirement as well. The purpose of requiring a bound book is to prevent pages from being removed or altered. The book might be a special notary journal or a plain, bound book with sequentially numbered pages from a stationery store. Regardless of the kind of book you use, you must record all the information required by law. Available at the State BookstoreSee Public Records.

Web sources

A path to electronic notary acknowledgments, The Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog, August 7, 2017.
Discusses the need to amend the current notary statute to accommodate new technological practices, especially relating to real estate documents.

Becoming a notary public, Mass. Governor
Includes information on applying to become a notary public, and finding a notary public.

Electronic acknowledgements, REBA Blog, March 9, 2017. 
Discusses the use of remote electronic notarization.

Find a notary public, Mass. Governor
Places to look for a notary.

Information on apostilles and certificates of appointment, Mass. Secretary of State
Explains the process for getting an Apostille or Certification for a notarized document going to a foreign country. Also explains in plain language the four types of notarial acts.

Massachusetts notary public, Massachusetts Notary Public & Legal Support Network
This site has more valuable information on notaries in Massachusetts than any other site we've found. Includes duties, oaths, forms, applicable laws and more.

Notary fees by state, National Notary Association.
Each state sets the fees that notaries can charge. Notaries may charge any fee (or none) up to the maximum allowed.

Properly disposing of expired notary stamps and seals, Notaries.com (April 18, 2019 / Notary Association of America) Steps to destroy notary materials.

Questions about notaries public? Here’s who to contact, Mass. Governor
Several offices oversee different aspects of notaries public.

What if I need to have something notarized? Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, December 2019.
Discusses what getting a document notarized means, how do I find a notary, what do I need to give to the notary, how much does it cost and what if the notary says it costs more.

What is a notary public?, National Notary Association. 
Also available as a PDF brochure.

What to do with old notary seals, National Notary Association, Notary Bulletin (by David Thun, updated 12-11-2020)
Tips on destroying your notary seal.

Print sources

Legal forms, 5th ed. (Mass. practice v. 16-16A) Thomson Reuters/West, 2008 with supplement.
Chapter 44 Notarizations, Chapter 92 Acknowledgments. 

Massachusetts-Statutory Forms of Acknowledgment for Notary Public, 1 AmJur Legal Forms 2d Sections 7:174-7:183 (Individual, Corporation, Partnership, Attorney-In-Fact, Executor or Administrator, Trustee, and Guardian or Conservator).

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

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Last updated: July 9, 2021
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