Skip to Content
May 27, 2024 Fog | 62°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 1: Definitions

[ Text of section effective until June 27, 2023. For text effective June 27, 2023, see below.]

  Section 1. For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

  "Acknowledgment'', a notarial act in which an individual, at a single time and place appears, in person, before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and presents a document to the notary public and indicates to the notary public that the signature on the document before the notary was voluntarily affixed by the individual for the purposes stated within the document or that the signature on the document was the individual's free act and deed and, if applicable, that the individual was authorized to sign in a particular representative capacity.

  "Affirmation'', a notarial act, or part thereof, that is legally equivalent to an oath and in which an individual, at a single time and place appears, in person, before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and the individual makes a vow of truthfulness or fidelity under the penalties of perjury without invoking a deity.

  "Copy certification'', a notarial act in which a notary public is presented with a document that the notary public copies, or supervises the copying thereof, by a photographic or electronic copying process, compares the original document to the copy and determines that the copy is accurate and complete.

  "Credible witness'', an honest, reliable and impartial person who personally knows an individual appearing before a notary and who takes an oath or affirmation before the notary to vouch for that individual's identity.

  "Journal'', a permanently bound book that creates and preserves a chronological record of notarial acts performed by a notary public.

  "Jurat'', a notarial act in which an individual, at a single time and place appears, in person, before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and: (i) presents a document; (ii) signs the document in the presence of the notary public; and (iii) takes an oath or affirmation before the notary public vouching for the truthfulness or accuracy of the contents of the signed document.

  "Notarial act'' or "notarization'', an act that a notary public is empowered to perform.

  "Notarial certificate'', the part of or attachment to a notarized document for completion by the notary that bears the notary public's signature and seal and states the venue, date and facts that are attested by the notary public in a particular notarial act or notarization.

  "Notary public'' or "notary'', a person commissioned to perform official acts pursuant to Article IV of the Amendments of the Constitution.

  "Oath'', a notarial act, or part thereof, that is legally equivalent to an affirmation and in which an individual, at a single time and place, appears in person before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and takes a vow of truthfulness or fidelity under the penalties of perjury by invoking a deity.

  "Official misconduct'', a violation of sections 13 to 24, inclusive, or any other general or special law in connection with a notarial act or a notary public's performance of an official act in a manner found to be grossly negligent or against the public interest.

  "Personal knowledge of identity'', familiarity with an individual resulting from interactions with that individual over a period of time sufficient to ensure beyond doubt that the individual is the person whose identity is claimed.

  "Principal'', a person whose signature is notarized or a person taking an oath or affirmation before a notary public.

  "Regular place of work or business'', a place where an individual spends a substantial portion of their working or business hours.

  "Satisfactory evidence of identity'', identification of an individual based on: (i) at least 1 current document issued by a federal or state government agency bearing the photographic image of the individual's face and signature; (ii) the oath or affirmation of a credible witness unaffected by the document or transaction who is personally known to the notary public and who personally knows the individual; or (iii) identification of an individual based on the notary public's personal knowledge of the identity of the principal; provided, however, that for a person who is not a United States citizen, %CBsatisfactory evidence of identity%CB shall mean identification of an individual based on a valid passport or other government-issued document evidencing the individual's nationality or residence and which bears a photographic image of the individual's face and signature.

  "Signature witnessing'', a notarial act in which an individual, at a single time and place, appears, in person, before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and presents a document and signs the document in the presence of the notary public.

Chapter 222: Section 1. Definitions

[ Text of section as amended by 2023, 2, Sec. 23 effective June 27, 2023. See 2023, 2, Sec. 84. For text effective until June 27, 2023, see above.]

  Section 1. For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

  "Acknowledgment'', a notarial act in which an individual, at a single time appears in person before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and presents a document or electronic record to the notary public and indicates to the notary public that the signature on the document or record before the notary was voluntarily affixed by the individual for the purposes stated within the document or electronic record or that the signature on the document or electronic record was the individual's free act and deed and, if applicable, that the individual was authorized to sign in a particular representative capacity.

  "Affirmation'', a notarial act, or part thereof, that is legally equivalent to an oath and in which an individual, at a single time appears in person before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and makes a vow of truthfulness or fidelity while appearing before the notary public under the penalties of perjury without invoking a deity.

  "Appears in person'', "appears personally'' or "personally appears'', (i) being in the same physical location as another individual and close enough to see, hear, communicate with and exchange tangible identification credentials with that individual; or (ii) interacting with a remotely-located individual by means of communication technology in compliance with section 28.

  "Capable of independent verification'', the ability to confirm the validity of an electronic notarial act, including the electronic signature and seal, through a publicly accessible system, in compliance with industry standard technology as approved by the secretary of the commonwealth.

  "Communication technology'', an electronic device or process that allows a notary public and a remotely-located individual to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound, and when necessary and consistent with other applicable laws, facilitates communication with a remotely-located individual with a vision, hearing or speech impairment.

  "Copy certification'', a notarial act in which a notary public is presented with a document that the notary public copies, or that the notary supervises someone else copying, by a photographic or electronic copying process, compares the original document to the copy and determines that the copy is accurate and complete.

  "Credential analysis'', a process or service that meets the guidelines established by the secretary, through which a third person affirms the validity of a current government-issued identification credential by review of public or proprietary data sources.

  "Credible witness'', an honest, reliable and impartial person who personally knows an individual appearing before a notary and who takes an oath or affirmation before the notary to vouch for that individual's identity.

  "Dynamic knowledge-based authentication'', a form of identity proofing based on a set of questions that pertain to an individual and are formulated from public or proprietary data sources.

  "Electronic'', relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic or similar capabilities.

  "Electronic record'', information that is created, generated, sent, communicated, received or stored by electronic means.

  "Electronic signature'', an electronic sound, symbol or process that is attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.

  "Foreign state'', a jurisdiction other than the United States, a state or a federally recognized Indian tribe.

  "Identity proofing'', a process or service that meets the guidelines established by the secretary, by which a third party provides a notary public with a means to verify the identity of a remotely-located individual by a review of personal information from public or private data sources, which may include credential analysis, dynamic knowledge-based authentication, analysis of biometric data including, but not limited to, facial recognition, voiceprint analysis or fingerprint analysis or other means permitted by the secretary.

  "Journal'', a chronological record of notarial acts performed by a notary public.

  "Jurat'', a notarial act in which an individual, at a single time appears in person before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and: (i) presents a document or electronic record; (ii) signs the document or electronic record in the presence of the notary public; and (iii) takes an oath or affirmation before the notary public vouching for the truthfulness or accuracy of the contents of the signed document or electronic record.

  "Notarial act'' or "notarization'', an act that a notary public is empowered to perform, including acts performed electronically in accordance with this chapter.

  "Notarial certificate'', the part of or attachment to a notarized document or electronic record for completion by the notary public that bears the notary public's signature and seal and states the venue, date and facts that are attested by the notary public in a particular notarial act or notarization.

  "Notary public'' or "notary'', a person commissioned to perform official acts pursuant to Article IV of the Amendments of the Constitution.

  "Notarial seal'', (i) a physical image or impression affixed, stamped or embossed on a tangible record; or (ii) an electronic image attached to, or logically associated with, an electronic record.

  "Oath'', a notarial act, or part thereof, that is legally equivalent to an affirmation and in which an individual, at a single time, appears in person before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and takes a vow of truthfulness or fidelity under the penalties of perjury by invoking a deity.

  "Official misconduct'', a violation of sections 13 to 24, inclusive, or any other general or special law in connection with a notarial act or a notary public's performance of an official act in a manner found to be grossly negligent or against the public interest.

  "Personal knowledge of identity'', familiarity with an individual resulting from interactions with that individual over a period of time sufficient to ensure beyond doubt that the individual is the person whose identity is claimed.

  "Principal'', a person whose signature is notarized or a person taking an oath or affirmation before a notary public.

  "Record'', information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

  "Regular place of work or business'', a place where an individual spends a substantial portion of their working or business hours.

  "Remotely-located individual'', an individual who is not in the physical presence of the notary public who performs a notarial act pursuant to section 28.

  "Satisfactory evidence of identity'', identification of an individual based on: (i) at least 1 current document issued by a United States or state government agency bearing the photographic image of the individual's face and signature; (ii) the oath or affirmation of a credible witness unaffected by the document or transaction who is personally known to the notary public and who personally knows the individual; or (iii) identification of an individual based on the notary public's personal knowledge of the identity of the principal; provided, however, that for a person who is not a United States citizen, "satisfactory evidence of identity'' shall mean identification of an individual based on a valid passport or other government-issued document evidencing the individual's nationality or residence and which bears a photographic image of the individual's face and signature. For purposes of a notarial act performed using communication technology for a remotely-located individual, "satisfactory evidence of identity'' shall be determined pursuant to section 28.

  "State secretary'', the secretary of the commonwealth.

  "Signature witnessing'', a notarial act in which an individual, at a single time, appears in person before a notary public, is identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity and presents a document or electronic record and signs the document or electronic record in the presence of the notary public.

  "Tamper-evident'', the use of a set of applications, programs, hardware, software or other technologies that will display evidence of any changes to an electronic record.

  "Tangible journal'', a journal created on a fixed tangible medium in a permanent bound register with numbered pages.

  "United States'', a location within the geographic boundaries of the United States, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands and any territory, insular possession or other location subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.