Florida Public Notices: Search for Public and Legal Notices in FL newspapers

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Summary of 2012 Public Notice Law and Related Requirements (HB 937)


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Posting and Uploading Notices

There must be a link to public notices (and/or legal advertising) that is prominent and clearly visible on the front page of each newspaper’s website. The front page link should specifically refer to “legal notices” or “legal advertising,” without use of hovering or drop down links. Use of only “more” or just “legals” as the front page link could be confusing.

There must be a link for readers to register to receive notification of new notices that are published in a prominent location of the front page of the public notice page on your newspaper’s website. You may use the widget that we provide if you don’t have one of your own. You cannot charge for email registration of notice.

Notices must be published online (on the newspaper’s website) the same time as they appear in the printed newspaper. All public notices published in a newspaper must be posted to the newspaper’s website the same day the notice is published in the newspaper and they must be available for free to the public.

The public notices must be searchable on the newspaper’s website. The public notices portion of the newspaper’s website must have a search function. At the newspaper’s option, the newspaper may use the search function provided by the widget of the association’s aggregated website floridapublicnotices.com/widget.

A fee may not be charged, and registration may not be required, for the public to view or search for legal notices on a newspaper's website.

Online notices should be easy to read and be the dominant text. The size of the notices on the newspaper’s website should be easy for the user to view, and should be optimized in keeping with the requirements of print. The notices shall be the dominant content on any page they are displayed. The notices must be posted in a separate web page titled "Legal Notices," "Legal Advertising," or comparable identifying language. 

Notices must be uploaded to www.floridapublicnotices.com. All public notices published in a newspaper must be placed on (uploaded to) www.floridapublicnotices.com. This site is maintained by the Florida Press Service in order to comply with Florida law. The notices should be uploaded in a timely manner.

Maps must be uploaded with the text. If a local government publishes certain maps (e.g. zoning maps), the maps must also be part of the online ad uploaded to www.floridapublicnotices.com.



Charging for Notices

A reduction of the price (85%) for the second and subsequent notice must be provided for government notices. Notices that are paid for by government and not paid for (or recouped) by private parties shall be charged at no more than 85% of the original cost for a second and subsequent insertion of the same notice.
 
The price for notices in the printed newspaper must include all costs for publishing the ad on the newspaper’s website and to www.floridapublicnotices.com. There cannot be an additional charge for posting the notice on the newspaper’s website, or to www.floridapublicnotices.com. All charges are determined by the original charge of the printed notice. (The pricing provision did not change and is still based on either i) 70 cents per square inch for the first insertion and 40 cents per square inch for each subsequent insertion or ii) the regular established minimum commercial rate.*)




Digital Affidavits

Digital affidavits are acceptable. Affidavits may be printed on regular paper, and may also be provided in electronic form, provided that the notarization of the affidavit complies with the requirements of Florida statute 50.061, which provides electronic signature criteria and other details provided in the law:

(1). Any document requiring notarization may be notarized electronically. The provisions of ss.117.01, 117.03, 117.04, 117.05(1)-(11), (13), and (14), 117.105, and 117.107 apply to all notarizations under this section.
(2) In performing an electronic notarial act, a notary public shall use an electronic signature that is:

(a) Unique to the notary public;
(b) Capable of independent verification;
(c) Retained under the notary public’s sole control; and
(d) Attached to or logically associated with the electronic document in a manner that any subsequent alteration to the electronic document displays evidence of the alteration.

(3) When a signature is required to be accompanied by a notary public seal, the requirement is satisfied when the electronic signature of the notary public contains all of the following seal information:

(a) The full name of the notary public exactly as provided on the notary public’s application for commission;
(b) The words “Notary Public State of Florida”;
(c) The date of expiration of the commission of the notary public; and
(d) The notary public’s commission number.

(4) Failure of a notary public to comply with any of the requirements of this section may constitute grounds for suspension of the notary public’s commission by the Executive Office of the Governor.
(5) The Department of State may adopt rules to ensure the security, reliability, and uniformity of signatures and seals authorized in this section.  More information can be found here.

Process for E-filing Affidavits.  To gain access to the State of Florida’s e-file system, a newspaper can now sign up as a “process server,” which was recently added to the portal’s list of approved identities. This gives the newspaper access to only file the proof of publications (affidavits). Once filed, the newspaper should get an immediate email that the document was received and filed. Here is the website address: https://www.myflcourtaccess.com/common/uipages/register.aspx?rr=14




Email Notification

Email notification must be provided to readers when a new notice is available. Newspapers must provide email notification of new legal notices (when they are published) to anyone requesting the information. Such email notification must be done without charge and notification for such an email registry must be placed on the front page of the public notice portion of the newspaper’s website. Newspapers may elect to provide their readers with the email notification function provided by the association’s aggregated website. The widget is available here.



Questions?

If you have questions about these changes, check out the FAQ's. If your answer is not in the FAQ's, email the Legal Hotline, a service provided as a courtesy to FPA members.