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WVC 29C- CHAPTER 29C. UNIFORM NOTARY ACT.

WVC 29 C- 1 - ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.


WVC 29 C- 1 - 101 §29C-1-101. Short title.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "uniform notary act."


WVC 29 C- 1 - 102 §29C-1-102. Purposes and rules of construction.
(a) This chapter shall be construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes and policies.

(b) The underlying purposes and policies of this chapter are:

(1) To simplify, clarify and modernize the law governing notaries public;

(2) To make uniform notary laws among the states enacting it; and

(3) To promote, serve and protect the public interest.

(c) In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) Words in the singular number include the plural, and words in the plural number include the singular;

(2) Words of the masculine gender include the feminine and the neuter; and

(3) Words of the neuter gender may refer to any gender when the sense so indicates.


WVC 29 C- 1 - 103 §29C-1-103. Prospective effect of chapter; exceptions.
Except as otherwise provided herein, this chapter applies prospectively and shall be applicable to all notaries public whether commissioned before, on or after the effective date of this chapter: Provided, That the following sections in article two of this chapter shall apply only to those notaries public commissioned on or after the effective date of this chapter: Subsections (a) and (b) of section one hundred one, sections two hundred one, two hundred two, two hundred three, two hundred four, two hundred six, two hundred seven and three hundred one, relating to the appointment and qualifications of notaries, and section one hundred two, relating to jurisdiction and terms of notaries public.


WVC 29 C- 1 - 104 §29C-1-104. Construction against implicit repeal.
This chapter is intended to provide comprehensive and unified coverage of the subject matter. Therefore, no part of it shall be construed to be impliedly repealed or amended by subsequent legislation if that construction can be avoided.


WVC 29 C- 1 - 105 §29C-1-105. Notary public and notarization defined.
(a) The terms "notary public" or "notary" are used interchangeably to mean any individual appointed and commissioned to perform notarial acts.

(b) "Notarization" means the performance of a notarial act.


WVC 29 C- 1 - 106 §29C-1-106. Effective date.
This chapter shall take effect the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred eighty-four.


WVC 29 C- 1 - 107 §29C-1-107. Disposition of fees.
All fees and moneys collected by the secretary of state pursuant to the provisions of this article shall be deposited by the secretary of state as follows: One-half shall be deposited in the state general revenue fund and one-half shall be deposited in the service fees and collections account established by section two, article one, chapter fifty-nine of this code for the operation of the office of the secretary of state. The secretary of state shall dedicate sufficient resources from that fund or other funds to provide the services required in this article.


WVC 29 C- 2 - ARTICLE 2. APPOINTMENT PROVISIONS.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 101 §29C-2-101. Appointment.
(a) Upon application under this chapter, the governor may appoint and commission persons as a notary public in this state.

(b) The governor may not appoint and commission as a notary public any person who submits an application containing substantial and material misstatement or omission of fact.

(c) The secretary of state shall administer the chapter and may issue rules and regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a, to make the chapter effective.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 102 §29C-2-102. Jurisdiction and term.
Notaries may perform notarial acts in any part of this state for a term of ten years, unless sooner removed.

PART II. QUALIFYING.

WVC 29 C- 2 - 201 §29C-2-201. Application.
Every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public shall complete an application to be filed with the secretary of state stating:

(a) That he is a citizen of the United States, or if he is not a citizen of the United States, that he is a citizen or national of a country that permits American citizens to become notaries public therein;

(b) If he is a citizen of the United States, that he is a qualified elector of a state at the time of his application;

(c) That he is able to read and write English;

(d) The address of his business or residence in this state;

(e) His social security number, if he has one; and

(f) That during the past ten years his commission as a notary public has not been revoked.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 202 §29C-2-202. Qualifying fee.
Every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public shall pay to the secretary of state a fee of fifty dollars.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 203 §29C-2-203. Applicant's endorsers.
Every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public shall submit to the secretary of state endorsements from three qualified electors of this state, in the following form:

I, _____________________________ (name of endorser), a qualified elector of this state, believe to the best of my knowledge, the applicant is a person of good moral character and integrity and capable of performing notarial acts.

__________________________________

(Endorser's signature and address)


WVC 29 C- 2 - 204 §29C-2-204. Applicant's oath.
Every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public shall take the following oath in the presence of a person qualified to administer an oath in this state:

I, _______________________________ (name of applicant), solemnly swear or affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that the answers to all questions in this application are true, complete and correct; that I have carefully read the notaries public law of this State; and, if appointed and commissioned as a notary public, I will perform faithfully, to the best of my ability, all notarial acts in accordance with the law.

__________________________________

(Signature of applicant)

Subscribed and sworn or affirmed before me this _____ day of _______________, 19___. The undersigned notary public further certifies that ___________________________ (name of applicant), is known to me to be the applicant and elector who executed the within application for appointment and commission as a notary public and acknowledged to me that he or she executed the same for the purposes therein stated.

________________________________________________

(Official signature and official seal of notary)

§29C-2-205.

Repealed. Acts, 1985 Reg. Sess., Ch. 129.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 206 §29C-2-206. Confidential application.
Information in the application for appointment, except for the applicant's name and address, is confidential and may not be disclosed by an official or employee having access to it to any person other than the applicant, his authorized representative, or an employee or officer of the federal government, the state government or a local agency, acting in his official capacity. Such information shall be used by the governor and secretary of state for the sole purpose of performing his duties under this chapter.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 207 §29C-2-207. Specimen official signature.
Every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public shall mail or deliver to the secretary of state a handwritten specimen of his official signature which contains his surname and at least the initial of his first name. The fee payable to the secretary of state for recording a specimen of the official signature is two dollars.


WVC 29 C- 2 - 208 §29C-2-208. Application by persons holding existing commissions.
Persons holding notary commissions on the effective date of this chapter and having been appointed pursuant to former section two, article four, chapter twenty-nine of this code, shall continue upon their bonds as previously posted until the expiration of their respective notarial commissions.

PART III. GOVERNMENT NOTARIES.

WVC 29 C- 2 - 301 §29C-2-301. State and local government employees.
(a) The governor may appoint and commission such number of state and local government employees as notaries public, to act for and in behalf of their respective state and local government offices, as he deems proper. An appointee commissioned as a notary public under this section may act only for and in behalf of the government office or offices in which he is employed.

(b) An appointee under this section shall meet the requirements for qualification and appointment prescribed in article two of this chapter except that the head of the state or local government office where the applicant is employed may execute a certificate that the application is made for the purposes of the office and in the public interest and submit it to the governor together with the application for appointment as a notary public, in which case the fee for appointment specified in article two, section two hundred two, is waived.

(c) The costs of all notary supplies for a commissioned state or local government employee shall be paid from funds available to the office in which he is employed.

(d) All fees received for notarial services by a notary public appointed for and in behalf of a state or local government office shall be remitted by him to the state or local government office in which he is employed.

(e) A notary public who is an employee of a state or local government office in this state must comply with all provisions of this chapter.


WVC 29 C- 3 - ARTICLE 3. POWERS.


WVC 29 C- 3 - 101 §29C-3-101. Powers.
Every notary public is empowered to:

(1) Take acknowledgments;

(2) Administer oaths and affirmations;

(3) Certify that a copy of a document is a true copy of another document; and

(4) Perform any other act permitted by law.


WVC 29 C- 3 - 102 §29C-3-102. Limitations on powers.
(a) A notary public who has a disqualifying interest, as hereinafter defined, in a transaction may not legally perform any notarial act in connection with the transaction.

(b) For the purposes of this chapter, a notary public has a disqualifying interest in a transaction in connection with which notarial services are requested if he:

(1) May receive directly, and as a proximate result of the notarization, any advantage, right, title, interest, cash or property, exceeding in value the sum of any fee properly received in accordance with section three hundred one, article four of this chapter; or exceeding his regular compensation and benefits as an employee whose duties include performing notarial acts for an in behalf of his employer; or

(2) Is named, individually, as a party to the transaction.


WVC 29 C- 4 - ARTICLE 4. DUTIES.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 101 PART I. SEAL AND SIGNATURE.

§29C-4-101. Official signature.

At the time of notarization a notary public shall sign his official signature on every notarial certificate.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 102 §29C-4-102. Rubber stamp seal.
Under or near his official signature on every notarial certificate, a notary public shall rubber stamp clearly and legibly, so that it is capable of photographic reproduction:

(a) The words "Official Seal";

(b) His name exactly as he writes his official signature;

(c) The words "Notary Public,""State of West Virginia" and "My Commission expires (commission expiration date)";

(d) The address of his business or residence in this state; and

(e) A serrated or milled edge border in a rectangular form not more than one inch in width by two and one-half inches in length surrounding the information.

No person holding a notary commission pursuant to former section two, article four, chapter twenty-nine on the effective date of this chapter may be required to obtain or use a rubber stamp seal prior to the expiration of that commission. However, such a notary who was appointed for one or more counties of the state may obtain and use the rubber stamp seal prior to the expiration of that commission if the name of the county in which the notarial act is performed is on the seal used for that act.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 103 §29C-4-103. Seal embosser.
(a) Every notary public may provide, keep and use a seal embosser engraved to show the words "Notary Seal," his name, "Notary Public," and "State of West Virginia."

(b) The indentations made by the seal embosser shall not be applied on the notarial certificate or document to be notarized in a manner that will render illegible or incapable of photographic reproduction any of the printed marks or writing.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 104 §29C-4-104. Illegibility.
The illegibility of any of the information required by sections one hundred one through one hundred three, article four, does not affect the validity of a transaction.

PART II. RECORD CHANGES.

WVC 29 C- 4 - 201 §29C-4-201. Change of address.
Every notary public shall mail or deliver notice to the secretary of state within thirty days after he changes the address of his business or residence in this state. The fee payable to the secretary of state for recording notice of change of address is two dollars.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 202 §29C-4-202. Change of notary's name.
Every notary public shall mail or deliver notice to the secretary of state within thirty days after he changes his name, including with the notification a specimen of his handwritten official signature which contains his surname and at least the initial of his first name. The fee payable to the secretary of state for recording notice of change of notary's name is two dollars.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 203 §29C-4-203. Lost official seal.
Every notary public shall mail or deliver notice to the secretary of state within thirty days after he loses or misplaces his official seal. The fee payable to the secretary of state for recording notice of a lost seal is two dollars.

PART III. FEES.

WVC 29 C- 4 - 301 PART IV. TERMINATION OF COMMISSION.

§29C-4-301. Maximum fees.
The maximum fee in this state for notarization of each signature and the proper recordation thereof in the journal of notarial acts is two dollars for each signature notarized.

(a) The maximum fee in this state for certification of a facsimile of a document, retaining a facsimile in the notary's file, and the proper recordation thereof in the journal of notarial acts is two dollars for each eight and one-half by eleven inch page retained in the notary's file.

(b) The maximum fee in this state is two dollars for any other notarial act performed.

(c) A notary public who charges more than the maximum fees specified is guilty of official misconduct.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 401 §29C-4-401. Death.
If a notary public dies during the term of his appointment, his heirs or personal representative, as soon as reasonably possible after the notary's death, shall send by certified mail or deliver to the secretary of state the deceased notary's papers and copies relating to his notarial acts. His heirs or personal representative shall destroy forthwith his official seal.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 402 §29C-4-402. Resignation or removal.
If a notary public no longer desires to be a notary public or has ceased to have a business or residence address in this state, he shall send forthwith by certified mail or deliver to the secretary of state a letter of resignation and all papers and copies relating to his notarial acts. He shall destroy forthwith his official seal. His commission shall thereupon cease to be in effect.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 403 §29C-4-403. Revocation of commission.
Immediately after receiving notice from the secretary of state that his commission has been revoked, the person whose commission is revoked shall forthwith send by certified mail or deliver to the secretary of state all papers and copies relating to his notarial acts. He shall destroy forthwith his official seal.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 404 §29C-4-404. Failure to be reappointed.
A notary public who is not reappointed to act as a notary public within thirty days after the expiration of his commission shall send forthwith by certified mail or deliver to the secretary of state all papers and copies relating to his notarial acts. He shall destroy forthwith his official seal.


WVC 29 C- 4 - 405 §29C-4-405. Reappointment.
(a) No person may be automatically reappointed as a notary public.

(b) Every notary public who is an applicant for reappointment as a notary public shall recomply with the provisions of article two of this chapter.


WVC 29 C- 5 - ARTICLE 5. FORMS AND PROCEDURES.


WVC 29 C- 5 - 101 §29C-5-101. Acknowledgment forms.
(a) The forms of acknowledgment set forth in section six, article one-a, chapter thirty-nine of this code, and known as "statutory short forms of acknowledgment" may be used and are sufficient for their respective purposes under any law of this state, whether the acknowledgment was taken within or without this state.

(b) Certificates of acknowledgment for the following purposes may be substantially in the following respective form:

(1) By a United States citizen who is outside of the United States ____________________________ (description or location of place where acknowledgment is taken).

On this _____day of ____________, in the year ________, before me _______________________ (name and title of person acting as a notary and refer to law or authority granting power to act as a notary), personally appear ______________ ________________ (name of citizen) known to me to be the person who executed the within ____________________________ (type of document) and acknowledged to me that _______ (he) executed the same for the purposes therein stated.

___________________________________________________

(Official signature and official seal of person

acting as a notary and refer to law or

authority granting power to act as a notary)

(2) By an individual who cannot write his name,

State of ________________, County of __________________.

On this _____ day of ____________, in the year _____, before me ____________________________ (name of notary), a notary public in and for said state, personally appeared ___________________________________ (name of individual), known to me to be the person who, being unable to write his name, made his mark in my presence. I signed his name at his request and in his presence on the within _______________________ (type of document) and he acknowledged to me and the two witnesses who have signed and printed their names and addresses hereto, that he made his mark on the same for the purposes therein stated.

_________________________________________________

(Official signature and official seal of notary

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

(Signatures of two witnesses and their addresses)


WVC 29 C- 5 - 102 §29C-5-102. Oath; procedure; form.
(a) If the oath to be administered by the notary public is in writing and the person who took the oath has signed his name thereto, the notary public shall write or print under the text of the oath the following:

"Subscribed and sworn before me this ____________day of ________________, 19___."

________________________________________________

(Official signature and official seal of notary)

(b) If the oath to be administered by the notary public is not in writing, the notary public shall address the affirmant substantially as follows:

You do solemnly swear, under the penalty of perjury, that the testimony you shall give in the matter in issue, pending between ____________________ and __________________, shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"


WVC 29 C- 5 - 103 §29C-5-103. Executing witness form.
(a) "Executing witness" as used in this section means an individual who acts in the place of a notary.

(b) An executing witness may not be related by blood or marriage or have a disqualifying interest as defined in subsection (b), section one hundred two, article three of this chapter.

(c) The affidavit of executing witness for acknowledgment by an individual who does not appear before a notary shall be substantially in the following form:

I, ______________________ (name of executing witness), do solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury, that ________________________ (name of person who does not appear before a notary), personally known to me, has executed the within __________________ (type of document) in my presence, and has acknowledged to me that ____ (he) executed the same for the purposes therein stated and requested that I sign my name on the within document as an executing witness.

__________________________________

(Signature of executing witness)

Subscribed and sworn before me this _______ day of ______________, 19____.

________________________________________________

(Official signature and official seal of notary)


WVC 29 C- 5 - 104 §29C-5-104. Certified facsimiles of documents; procedure; form.
(a) A notary public may certify a facsimile of a document if he receives a signed written request stating that:

(1) A certified copy or facsimile of the document cannot be obtained from the office of any recorder of public documents or custodian of documents in this state; and

(2) The production of a facsimile, preparation of a copy or certification of a copy of the document does not violate any state or federal law.

(b) Every notary public shall retain a facsimile of each document he has certified as a facsimile of another document, together with other papers or copies relating to his notarial acts.

(c) The certification of a facsimile shall be substantially in the following form:

State of __________________ County of _________________.

I, _______________________ (name of notary), a notary public in and for said state, do certify that on ____________ (date) I carefully compared the attached facsimile of _________________ (type of document) and the facsimile I now hold in my possession. They are complete, full, true and exact facsimiles of the document they support to reproduce.

________________________________________________

(Official signature and official seal of notary)


WVC 29 C- 6 - ARTICLE 6. LIABILITY, FINES AND IMPRISONMENT.


WVC 29 C- 6 - 101 §29C-6-101. Liability of notary.
A notary public is liable to the persons involved for all damages proximately caused by the notary's official misconduct.


WVC 29 C- 6 - 102 §29C-6-102. Liability of employer of notary.
The employer of a notary public is also liable to the persons involved for all damages proximately caused by the notary's official misconduct, if:

(a) The notary public was acting within the scope of his employment at the time he engaged in the official misconduct; and

(b) The employer consented to the notary public's official misconduct.


WVC 29 C- 6 - 103 §29C-6-103. Proximate cause.
               It is not essential to a recovery of damages that a notary's official misconduct be the only proximate cause of the damages.

WVC 29 C- 6 - 201 PART II. MISCONDUCT.

§29C-6-201. Official misconduct defined.

The term "official misconduct" means the wrongful exercise of a power or the wrongful performance of a duty. The term "wrongful" as used in the definition of official misconduct means unauthorized, unlawful, abusive, negligent, reckless or injurious.


WVC 29 C- 6 - 202 §29C-6-202. Official misconduct.
(a) A notary public who knowingly and willfully commits any official misconduct is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year or both fined and imprisoned.

(b) A notary public who recklessly or negligently commits any official misconduct is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars.


WVC 29 C- 6 - 203 §29C-6-203. Willful impersonation.
Any person who acts as, or otherwise willfully impersonates, a notary public while not lawfully appointed and commissioned to perform notarial acts is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.


WVC 29 C- 6 - 204 §29C-6-204. Wrongful possession.
Any person who unlawfully possesses a notary's official seal or any papers or copies relating to notarial acts, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars.


WVC 29 C- 7 - ARTICLE 7. REVOCATION OF COMMISSION; ACTION FOR INJUNCTION; UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW.


WVC 29 C- 7 - 101 §29C-7-101. Revocation of commission.

The governor or secretary of state may revoke the commission of any notary public who during the current term of appointment:

(a) Submits an application for commission and appointment as a notary public which contains substantial and material misstatement or omission of fact;

(b) Is convicted of any felony or official misconduct under this chapter;

(c) Fails to exercise the powers or perform the duties of a notary public in accordance with this chapter;

(d) Is adjudged liable in any suit grounded in fraud, misrepresentation, impersonation or violation of the state regulatory laws of this state, if his liability is not solely by virtue of his agency or employment relationship with another who engaged in the act for which the suit was brought;

(e) Represents or implies from unauthorized use of his title of notary public that he has qualifications, powers, duties, rights or privileges that by law he does not possess;

(f) Allows or permits his name or his title of notary public to be used deceptively, fraudulently or in false or misleading advertising;

(g) Engages in the unauthorized practice of law;

(h) Ceases to be a citizen of the United States or a national of a country which permits American citizens to become notaries public therein;

(i) Ceases to be a qualified elector of a state;

(j) Ceases to have a business or residence address in this state; or

(k) Becomes incapable of reading and writing the English language.

A notary's commission may be revoked under the provisions of this chapter only if action is taken subject to the rights of the notary public to notice, hearing, adjudication and appeal.


WVC 29 C- 7 - 201 Part II. Injunctions.

§29C-7-201. Action for injunction; unauthorized practice of law.

Upon his own information or upon complaint of any person, the attorney general, or his designee, may maintain an action for injunctive relief in circuit court against any notary public who renders, offers to render or holds himself out as rendering any service constituting the unauthorized practice of the law. Any organized bar association in this state may intervene in the action, at any stage of the proceeding, for good cause shown. The action may also be maintained by an organized bar association in this state or by the secretary of state.


WVC 29 C- 7 - 202 §29C-7-202. Remedies additional to those now existing.
The remedies provided in article seven are in addition to, and not in substitution for, other available remedies.


WVC 29 C- 8 - ARTICLE 8. CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY.


WVC 29 C- 8 - 101 §29C-8-101. Certificate of authority.
Upon the receipt of a written request, the notarized document and a fee of two dollars payable to the secretary of state, the office of the secretary of state shall provide a certificate of authority in substantially the following form:

I ________________________ (secretary of state of the State of West Virginia, which office is an office of record having a seal) certify that ______________________________ (notary's name), by whom the foregoing or annexed document was notarized, was, at the time of the notarization of the same, a notary public authorized by the laws of this state to act in this state and to notarize the within __________________________ (type of document), and I further certify that the notary's signature on the document is genuine to the best of my knowledge, information and belief and that such notarization was executed in accordance with the laws of this state.

In testimony whereof, I have affixed my signature and the seal of the State of West Virginia, this _____day of __________________, 19___.

_______________________________________

(Certifying officer's signature, title,

jurisdiction, address and the seal

affixed near the signature)


WVC 29 C- 9 - ARTICLE 9. CURATIVE PROVISIONS.


WVC 29 C- 9 - 101 §29C-9-101. Uniform application of chapter; validation of good faith notarial acts; nonliability for good faith notarial acts.
This article is to prevent or redress problems which might be caused by notaries public who in good faith performed notarial acts in substantial compliance with the laws which were replaced by the uniform notary act, chapter twenty- nine-c of this code, during a forgiveness period which begins with the effective date of that act and ends with the effective date of this section.

With respect to notarial acts performed in good faith and in substantial compliance with prior law during the forgiveness period:

(a) Instruments so notarized shall be conclusively presumed to have been validly notarized;

(b) Notaries public and all parties to such notarial acts shall be immune from civil and criminal liabilities for such acts or the consequences of such acts. The rebuttable presumption created by section nine, article seven, chapter fifty-five of the code, that any violation of a statute which proximately causes injury constitutes negligence, does not apply; and

(c) The retrospective application of this section applies to all litigation which has not been fully adjudicated, including cases pending on appeal. This section does not apply to notarial acts performed prior to or subsequent to the forgiveness period.

The purposes of this article are remedial and shall be construed liberally to accomplish the purposes set forth herein.


Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2013 1st Special Session
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