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With the New Year Comes Changes

With January wrapped up, now is about the time that most of us start breaking most of those New Year's resolutions we promised ourselves we'd stick to. Renewing your Notary Public certification shouldn't be one of them. Unfortunately, if you don't understand the new changes in California law that affect how Notaries Public conduct business, you may find yourself out of the loop and breaking that one resolution that's so easy to keep. brings you a quick rundown on the changes in California law that every Notary Public needs to know:

  1. California Notary Public law added another class of documents to the list of acceptable types of identification a Notary Public may utilize to identify a person. This new identification includes an employee identification card. This identification card must be issued by the State of California, or by an agency or office of a city or county or city and county in the State of California. Identification accepted by the Notary Public must still contain all of the necessary elements required by law. (Civil Code Section 1185).
  2. A California Notary Public will now handle a subscribing witness in the following manner to Civil Code section 1196:
    • If a principal has signed a document, but cannot personally appear before the Notary Public, another person can appear on behalf of the principal. This person is called a subscribing witness and his/her function is to prove the principal signed (or executed) the document.
    • The subscribing witness will be given and oath or affirmation stating that the person who signed the document as the principal, is the person described in the document, and the subscribing witness personally knows the principal. The subscribing witness also must state or affirm that he/she saw the principal sign the document or in the presence of the principal heard the principal acknowledge that the principal signed the document. The subscribing witness also states that he/she was requested by the principal to sign the document as a witness and that the subscribing witness did sign the document as a witness.
    • A proof of execution by a subscribing witness cannot be used in conjunction with any quitclaim deed, grant deed, deed of trust, mortgage or security agreement. (Government Code Section 27287 and Civil Code Section 1195(b))
    • The Notary Public must establish the identity of the subscribing witness using a credible witness whom personally knows the Notary Public, personally knows the subscribing witness and the credible witness must have identification. The Notary Public will put the credible witness under oath or affirmation stating that he/she personally knows the Notary Public and personally knows the subscribing witness. The credible witness will also present to the Notary Public any identification document that satisfies the requirements for satisfactory evidence.
    • The Notary Public will fill out the appropriate certificate and fill out the official notary journal. The subscribing witness will sign the notary journal and the credible witness will also sign the notary journal or the Notary Public will document in the notary journal the qualifying information of the credible witness's identifying document.
    • The qualifying information that is recorded is:
      • Type of identification.
      • Government agency issuing the identification document.
      • The serial number of the identification document.
      • The Date of issue or expiration of the identification document.

Note: Proof of execution by a subscribing witness is not a notarial act that is commonly used.

Remember it is good practice as a California Notary Public to both add the qualifying information and ensure that the credible witness signs your notary journal.

To make sure your Notary Public certification stays up to date, go to and complete a 6-hour Notary Public course. It's 100% approved by the State of California and it covers everything you need to know for 2009.
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