RULONA Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts
Colorado notaries must follow Colorado notary laws listed in the Colorado Notaries Public Act. Notary laws vary from state to state, but there are fundamentals of notary procedures that remain the same.
If a notary encounters a situation where Colorado law does not prescribe what to do, then the law is silent. In addition to statutes, there may be rules, regulations, state handbooks, training classes, legal opinions or court cases that may apply.
Beyond that, a notary is also required to use prudent and reasonable care, and follow notary best practices. There are several notary organizations that offer educational publications, newsletters, bulletins, forums, tips, webinars, training classes and conferences that can help notaries with continuing education. Most require annual membership dues.
One reference guide for notaries is the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) of 2010. It is published by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), also known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC).
All or portions of RULONA have been adopted into law or are pending approval in six states. It includes model language that may be used by states when they are adding new notary laws, although many states choose to write their own laws, rather than use the model language.
Model Notary Act
The Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) refers to the Model Notary Act of 2010 and RULONA 2010 as guides for situations when Colorado notary law is silent. The Model Notary Act was also used as a guidebook for notary best practices in the landmark Vancura case in Illinois, where a notary was found liable for negligence by failing to use reasonable care.
Notaries are ministerial officers that follow rules and industry best practices. Notaries do not have discretion to invent new procedures that may conflict with established law and best practices. If a situation arises where the notary law and best practices are silent, the notary should seek guidance from the SOS or legal advice.
Here are a few examples of topics where Colorado notary law is silent, but a model law or commentary is included in RULONA:
- Prohibits a notary from acting in any transaction in which the notary’s spouse [or civil partner] is a party or has a direct beneficial interest
- States that a notary should avoid performing any notarial act that would raise the appearance of impropriety
- Defines personal knowledge of identity to mean that the notary has had sufficient prior business or personal dealings with the customer that verifies identity
- Defines acceptable identification to include an expired driver’s license that is not expired by more than 3 years
- Permits a notary to refuse to perform a notarial act for any reason, unless the refusal is prohibited by any other law
- Provides for recognition of valid notarizations from federally recognized American Indian tribes or nations
- Personal appearance by the customer does not include an appearance by audio or video technology
- Specifies that an electronic notary journal must use a permanent, tamper-evident format
RULONA helps to promote, serve and protect the public interest, to clarify notary law, to foster ethical conduct among notaries, and serves as a reference guide for notary best practices.