By Joan Bergstrom—California Notaries are not sent new changes in Notarial law and are expected to be pro-active and find out the changes each year. Some years there are many changes (2005-2006) and other years (2007) almost nothing changed.

How does a CA Notary find out the changes? One choice is to click on the California Secretary of State website, click on Notaries, and the latest law changes will appear at the top left side. (For a sneak peek at laws passed in 2007 to be effective January 2008, visit the 2007 Legislative Summary and click on Notary.

  • Visit in December of each year and you will find the changes.
  • Approximately 6 months before a renewing Notary commission is expiring the Notary will receive a letter in the mail that their commission is expiring and the changes in the law for the last 3+ years.

Some of the 2008 Notary law changes in brief:

  • Only Identification Documentation and Credible Witnesses can be used for identification, no more personal knowledge. (One credible can still be used but you must put the I.D. information of the credible witness in your journal.)
  • Verbiage on the Acknowledgment stating that the notary signs the notary certificate under penalty of perjury.
  • Local authorities given the power to take complaints against notaries, investigate those complaints, prosecute, etc. For instance, local police have this right and they didn’t have this right before this law was passed. I am not a lawyer so take this interpretation with a grain of salt!
  • Photograph to be submitted with Notary Application: It appears that the Secretary of State is going to accept a copy of driver’s license to fulfill this picture requirement.
  • Thumbprint required for deeds and POAs. (I wish they had required it for every Acknowledgement and Jurat.)
  • If the Notary doesn’t inform the Secretary of State of a change of address, the fine can be $500. Also, some monetary punishments are now $10,000, not just $750 or $1,500.