Thursday, July 3, 2014
Secretary of State Mark Hammond is excited to announce that the 2014 legislative session brought many critical improvements to the laws regulating South Carolina notaries public. Signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley on June 2, Secretary Hammond joined the governor for the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 356.
This important legislation was a result of input from notaries public, citizens who have had concerns or complaints about the performance of notaries in carrying out their duties, and concerns and questions from members of the legal community requesting guidance on the duties of a notary.
Highlights of the notary bill include:
– Clear statutory definitions for the notarial acts and clarification as to what a notary public can and cannot do. For example, the bill includes specific prohibitions against a notary public notarizing blank documents or records to which they may benefit;
– Specific criminal penalties for fraudulent notarization;
– Provisions for notarizing a signature by mark and notarizing for a person unable to sign or make a mark, which are vital for individuals with physical disabilities;
– The requirement of being able to read and write English;
– Provisions to protect against notario publico fraud, which require disclaimers be both in English and in the language used for advertisements;
– Specific guidelines for authentication of official documents for foreign use; and
– An increase in the maximum fees that a notary may charge for notarial acts to $5.
Secretary of State Mark Hammond is offering eight free regional notary public seminars this summer and fall for all South Carolina notaries and those interested in becoming a notary. If you are currently a notary public, this is an excellent opportunity to learn about the new provisions and to ask questions of the secretary of state's office. These seminars are a public service of the secretary of state's office. For a complete list of the seminars, and to register, please visit the secretary of state's website at www.sos.sc.gov.