2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
July 10, 2019 - Introduced by Senators Olsen,
L. Taylor, Bernier, Cowles, Jacque,
Marklein and Wanggaard, cosponsored by Representatives Ballweg,
Haywood, Summerfield, Crowley, Dittrich, Doyle, Horlacher, James,
Knodl, Krug, Kulp, Kurtz, Sinicki, Skowronski, Spiros, Spreitzer, Steffen,
Subeck, C. Taylor and Tusler. Referred to Committee on Agriculture,
Revenue and Financial Institutions.
1An Act to renumber and amend
137.01 (1) and 137.01 (9); to amend
subchapter I (title) of chapter 137 [precedes 137.01], 137.01 (2), 137.01 (3) (a), 3
137.01 (4) (a), 137.01 (4) (b), 137.01 (6) (a), 137.01 (6m), 137.01 (7), subchapter 4
II (title) of chapter 137 [precedes 137.11], 137.11 (8), 137.19, 179.14 (1g) (b), 5
180.0103 (7k), 181.0103 (10p), 183.0107 (1g) (b), 193.005 (11p), 610.60 (4) (e), 6
706.001 (1), 706.25 (1) (d), 706.25 (2) (c) and 801.18 (1) (f); and
(1c), 137.01 (2m), 137.01 (3) (c), 137.01 (9) (bm), 137.01 (10), 137.01 (11), 137.01 8
(12), 137.01 (13), 137.195, 706.001 (2m) and 706.07 (8m) of the statutes; 9relating to: online notaries public and electronic notarizations, granting
10rule-making authority, and providing a penalty.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill allows a notary public holding a commission from the Department of
Financial Institutions to obtain an additional commission as an online notary public,
which authorizes the notary public to perform online notarial acts for persons who
are not in the same physical location as the notary public. The bill also authorize any
notary public to use an electronic seal in addition to an electronic signature. The bill
further requires registration of online notarization system providers.
Under current law, DFI issues commissions to notaries public. The commission
of an attorney is permanent and the commission of a nonattorney is for a term of four
years. A notary public must maintain an official seal or stamp that, applied to paper,
leaves a legible impression or imprint stating “Notary Public,” “
State of Wisconsin,”
and the name of the notary. Among a notary public's powers, a notary public may
administer oaths and take acknowledgements of deeds or other written instruments.
Every official act of a notary public must be attested by the notary public's written
signature or electronic signature, and the seal or stamp must be applied to notarized
deeds or other written instruments that are acknowledged or sworn to. Under the
Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, as adopted in this state, if a law requires a
person's signature or a record (which may be tangible or electronic) to be notarized,
this requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of a notary public, together
with any other information required to be included, is attached to or logically
associated with the person's signature or the record.
Current law also includes the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, as adopted in this
state, which applies to notaries public and others authorized by law to perform
notarial acts. Under the uniform law, a “notarial act” includes, among other actions,
1) taking an acknowledgment (which is a declaration that a person has executed an
instrument and, if executed in a representative capacity, that the person signed the
instrument with proper authority), 2) administering an oath or affirmation, 3)
taking a verification upon oath or affirmation (which is a declaration that a
statement is true, made by a person upon oath or affirmation), and 4) witnessing or
attesting a signature. The uniform law specifies certain requirements for
performing notarials acts, including verification of the identity of the person for
whom the notarial act is performed. When performed by a notary public, a notarial
act must be evidenced by a certificate of notarial act signed and dated by the notary
public that includes identification of the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is
performed and the date of expiration, if any, of the notary public's commission. The
uniform law includes various forms for certificates of notarial acts that provide for
the notary public's seal or stamp to be affixed and include other information. By
executing a certificate of a notarial act, a notary public certifies that he or she has
satisfied the requirements for performing that notarial act.
Under this bill, a person who holds a commission from DFI as a notary public
and who meets certain eligibility requirements may obtain an additional commission
as an online notary public. The term of this commission is four years. An online
notary public who is physically located in this state may perform an online notarial
act for a person who is physically located in the United States or for a person who is
physically located outside the United States if certain conditions are satisfied. An
online notarial act is a notarial act, as described above, performed by means of
communication technology that meets standards established by DFI.
“Communication technology” means an electronic device or process that allows an
individual physically in one location and a notary public physically located at
another location in this state to communicate with each other in real time by sight
and sound. An online notary public must verify the identity of the person for whom
the notarial act is performed (principal) using certain prescribed procedures. A
person for whom an online notarial act is performed is considered to appear
personally before the online notary public at the time of the online notarial act. An
online notary public must use an electronic notarial seal for an online notarial act
and must prepare an electronic certificate of notarial act that satisfies certain
requirements. An online notary public must keep specified electronic records for
online notarized documents and must maintain the security of these records. The
online notary public must also create an audio and video copy of the performance of
the online notarial act. The online notary public must take reasonable steps to
ensure the integrity and security of online notarizations, maintain a backup for all
electronic records, and protect the backup records from unauthorized use. The
online notary public may, however, designate a repository to maintain the electronic
records and the audio and video recordings, and if such a designation is made the
repository is subject to these requirements.
The bill also requires any person that offers the services of an electronic
notarization system (online notarization system provider) to register with DFI. An
online notarization system provider may authorize only DFI-commissioned online
notaries public to use its electronic notarization system and must notify DFI of each
online notary public authorized to use its system. The system must incorporate
The bill also authorizes any notary public to use an electronic signature and
electronic seal for notarial acts performed in the physical presence of the principal.
The bill provides for rule making by DFI relating to online notaries public and
online notarial acts.
Because this bill creates a new crime or revises a penalty for an existing crime,
the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties may be requested to prepare a
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
Subchapter I (title) of chapter 137 [precedes 137.01] of the statutes 2
is amended to read:
NOTARIES AND COMMISSIONERS OF6
137.01 (1) of the statutes is renumbered 137.01 (1g), and 137.01 (1g) 4
(a), (b), (d), (e) and (g), as renumbered, are amended to read:
(a) The secretary of financial institutions department
shall appoint 6
notaries public who shall be United States residents and at least 18 years of age. 7
Applicants who are not attorneys shall file an application with the department of
and pay a $20 fee.
(b) The secretary of financial institutions
shall satisfy himself or
that the applicant has the equivalent of an 8th grade education, is 11
familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public and, subject to ss. 12
111.321, 111.322 and 111.335, does not have an arrest or conviction record.
(d) Qualified applicants shall be notified by the department of financial
to take and file the official oath and execute and file an official bond in 15
the sum of $500, with a surety executed by a surety company and approved by the 16secretary of financial institutions department
(e) The qualified applicant shall file his or her signature, post-office address, 18
and an impression of his or her official seal, or imprint of his or her official rubber 19
with the department of financial institutions
(g) At least 30 days before the expiration of a commission the department of
shall mail notice of the expiration date to the holder of a 22
137.01 (1c) of the statutes is created to read:
137.01 (1c) Definitions
. In this section:
(a) “Department” means the department of financial institutions.
(b) “Electronic signature” has the meaning given in s. 137.11 (8).
(c) “Online notarial act” or “online notarization” has the meaning given in s. 3
137.195 (1) (f).
(d) “Tamper-evident” means that any change to a record generates evidence 5
of the change.
137.01 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
137.01 (2) Notaries public who are attorneys.
(a) Except as provided in par. 8
(am), any United States resident who is licensed to practice law in this state is 9
entitled to a permanent commission as a notary public upon application to the 10
department of financial institutions
and payment of a $50 fee. The application shall 11
include a certificate of good standing from the supreme court, the signature and 12
post-office address of the applicant and an impression of the applicant's official seal, 13
or imprint of the applicant's official rubber stamp.
(am) If a United States resident has his or her license to practice law in this 15
state suspended or revoked, upon reinstatement of his or her license to practice law 16
in this state, the person may be entitled to receive a certificate of appointment as a 17
notary public for a term of 4 years. An eligible notary appointed under this 18
paragraph is entitled to reappointment for 4-year increments. At least 30 days 19
before the expiration of a commission under this paragraph the department of
shall mail notice of the expiration date to the holder of the 21
(b) The secretary of financial institutions
shall issue a certificate 23
of appointment as a notary public to persons who qualify under the requirements of 24
this subsection. The certificate shall state that the notary commission is permanent 25
or is for 4 years.
(c) The supreme court shall file with the department of financial institutions 2
notice of the surrender, suspension,
or revocation of the license to practice law of any 3
attorney who holds a permanent commission as a notary public. Such notice shall 4
be deemed a revocation of said commission.
137.01 (2m) of the statutes is created to read:
137.01 (2m) Online notaries public; application and commission
. (a) A notary 7
public holding a commission under sub. (1g) or (2) may also apply to the department 8
for a commission as an online notary public. The application shall include, at a 9
minimum, all of the following:
1. The applicant's name to be used in acting as an online notary public.
2. A certification that the applicant will comply with standards established by 12
the department under sub. (13) (a) 1.
3. A certification that the applicant will use tamper-evident technologies to 14
perform online notarizations and will have the capability to retain the evidence of 15
these online notarizations for a period established by the department under sub. (13) 16
4. Proof that the applicant has completed a course of instruction approved by 18
the department as provided in sub. (13) (a) 3.
5. Disclosure of all instances in which the applicant's commission, license, or 20
other authorization as a notary public has been revoked or terminated, or the 21
applicant has been otherwise subject to any disciplinary action, in any state within 22
the 10-year period preceding the date of application.
(b) Qualified applicants under this subsection shall be notified by the 24
department to take and file the official oath as an online notary public. This oath is 25
in addition to the oath required under sub. (1g) (d).
(c) For applicants who have fulfilled the requirements of this subsection, the 2
department shall appoint the applicant as an online notary public and issue to the 3
applicant a certificate of appointment for a term of 4 years. The certificate shall state 4
the expiration date of the commission under this subsection.
137.01 (3) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Except as authorized in s. 137.19,
and except as provided in par.
every notary public shall provide an engraved official seal which makes a distinct 8
and legible impression or official rubber stamp which makes a distinct and legible 9
imprint on paper. The impression of the seal or the imprint of the rubber stamp shall 10
state only the following: “Notary Public," “State of Wisconsin" and the name of the 11
notary. But any notarial seal in use on August 1, 1959, shall be considered in 12
137.01 (3) (c) of the statutes is created to read:
(c) For electronic notarizations and online notarial acts, the notary 15
public and online notary public shall use an electronic notarial seal that clearly and 16
legibly states the following: “Notary Public," “State of Wisconsin," and the name of 17
the notary. The electronic notarial seal shall afford the notary public or online notary 18
public the opportunity to indicate the day, month, and year when his or her 19
commission will expire or that the commission is permanent.
137.01 (4) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Every official act of a notary public shall be attested by the notary 22
public's written signature or electronic signature, as defined in s. 137.11 (8)
137.01 (4) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) Except as authorized in s. 137.19,
and except when a notary
25public properly uses an electronic notarial seal under sub. (3) (c),
all certificates of
acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances, or any written instrument 2
required or authorized by law to be acknowledged or sworn to before any notary 3
public, within this state, shall be attested by a clear impression of the official seal or 4
imprint of the rubber stamp of said officer, and in addition thereto shall be written 5
or stamped either the day, month and year when the commission of said notary public 6
will expire, or that such commission is permanent.
137.01 (6) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) The secretary of financial institutions department
may certify 9
to the official qualifications of any notary public and to the genuineness of the notary 10
public's signature and seal or rubber stamp.
137.01 (6m) of the statutes is amended to read:
137.01 (6m) Change of residence.
A notary public does not vacate his or her 13
office by reason of his or her change of residence within the United States. Written 14
notice of any change of address shall be given to the department
within 10 days of the change.
137.01 (7) of the statutes is amended to read:
137.01 (7) Official records to be filed.
When any notary public ceases to hold 18
office, the notary public, or in case of the notary public's death the notary public's 19
personal representative, shall deposit the notary public's official records and papers 20
with the department of financial institutions
. If the notary or personal 21
representative, after the records and papers come to his or her hands, neglects for 22
3 months to deposit them, he or she shall forfeit not less than $50 nor more than $500. 23
If any person knowingly destroys, defaces, or conceals any records or papers of any 24
notary public, the person shall forfeit not less than $50 nor more than $500, and shall
be liable for all damages resulting to the party injured. The department of financial
shall receive and safely keep all such papers and records.
137.01 (9) of the statutes is renumbered 137.01 (9) (am), and 4
137.01 (9) (am) (intro.), as renumbered, is amended to read:
(am) (intro.) A
Except as provided in par. (bm), a
notary public shall 6
be allowed the following fees:
137.01 (9) (bm) of the statutes is created to read:
(bm) Subject to any rule promulgated under sub. (13) (b) 1., an online 9
notary public may charge any fee for the performance of an online notarization.
137.01 (10) of the statutes is created to read:
137.01 (10) Online notarization system providers
. (a) In this subsection:
1. “Electronic notarial act” or “electronic notarization” means an act that an 13
online notary public is authorized to perform. The term includes all of the following:
a. Taking an acknowledgment.
b. Administering an oath or affirmation.
c. Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation.
d. Witnessing or attesting a signature.
e. Certifying or attesting a copy.
f. Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument.
g. Performing any other duty prescribed by a specific statute for an online 21
2. “Electronic notarization system” means a set of applications, programs, 23
hardware, software, or technologies designed to enable an online notary public to 24
perform electronic notarizations.
3. “Online notarization system provider” means any person that offers the 2
services of an electronic notarization system.
(b) The department shall establish and maintain a registration system for 4
online notarization system providers.
(c) No person may conduct business in this state as an online notarization 6
system provider unless the person first registers with the department as such.