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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 1: Appointment and jurisdiction of justices of the peace and notaries public

[ Text of section effective until January 4, 2017. For text effective January 4, 2017, see below.]

  Section 1. Justices of the peace and notaries public shall be appointed, and their commissions shall be issued, for the commonwealth, and they shall have jurisdiction throughout the commonwealth when acting under the sole authority of such a commission. Unless otherwise expressly provided they may administer oaths or affirmations in all cases in which an oath or affirmation is required, and take acknowledgments of deeds and other instruments.

Chapter 222: Section 1. Definitions

[ Text of section as recodified by 2016, 289, Sec. 3 effective January 4, 2017 applicable as provided by 2016, 289, Sec. 7. For text effective until January 4, 2017, see above.]

  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, "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.

  "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.