Record keeping requirements for British Columbia notaries

June 2017

This guidance on record keeping is applicable to British Columbia notary publics and British Columbia notary corporations that are subject to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and associated Regulations.

As a British Columbia notary public or British Columbia notary corporation, you have record keeping obligations when you engage in any of the following activities on behalf of any individual or entity (other than your employer), or give instructions for the following activities on behalf of any individual or entity (other than your employer):

In order to comply with your record keeping requirements, you are required to keep certain records in a manner in which they can be provided to FINTRAC within 30 days upon request. These records may also be requested through a judicial order by law enforcement to support an investigation of money laundering  or terrorist activity financing. A record (or a copy) may be kept in a machine-readable or electronic form, so long as a paper copy can easily be produced.

Employees who keep records for you are not required to keep them after the end of their employment with you. The same is true for individuals in a contractual relationship with you, after the end of that contractual relationship. This means that you have to obtain and keep the records that were kept for you by any employee or contractor before the end of that individual's employment or contract with you.

There may be situations where you are required to keep records for purposes other than your requirements under the PCMLTFA. For example, a federal or provincial regulator for your sector may require you to keep records in addition to those described in this guidance. If this is the case, you must still meet the requirements explained in this guidance. For example, the retention period for your records can be longer than what is described, but it cannot be shorter.

Please note that as a British Columbia notary public or a British Columbia notary corporation, you have record keeping requirements in addition to what is included in this guidance. These additional requirements are detailed in the following Know your client guidance documents:

As a British Columbia notary public or a British Columbia notary corporation, you must keep the following records:

  1. Suspicious transaction report records
  2. Large cash transaction records
  3. Receipt of funds records
  4. Reasonable measures records

**Note: Exceptions to your record keeping requirements are listed in the last section of this guidance.

**Note: When recording the nature of the principal business or occupation of a client, you must be as descriptive as possible in order to be able to determine whether a transaction or activity is consistent with what would be expected for that client. For example, in the case of a person who is a manager, the occupation recorded should reflect the area of management, such as “hotel reservations manager” or “retail clothing store manager.” The same is true when recording the nature of the principal business of an entity. For example, in the case of an entity in the field of sales, the nature of the principal business should specify the type of sales, such as “pharmaceutical sales” or “retail sales”.

1. Suspicious transaction report records

If you submit a suspicious transaction report (STR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it. This includes STRs for completed and attempted transactions.

Retention: You must keep STR’s for at least five years from the date the report was submitted.

2. Large cash transaction records

You must keep a record of every large cash transaction. A large cash transaction occurs when you receive $10,000 or more in cash from a client in a single transaction. A large cash transaction also occurs when there are multiple cash transactions of less than $10,000 each that total $10,000 or more within a 24-hour period, when you know they are conducted by, or on behalf of, the same individual or entity.

When your client conducts a large cash transaction, your record must indicate the receipt of an amount of $10,000 or more in cash, along with the following:

Retention: You must keep large cash transaction records for at least five years from the date the record was created.

3. Receipt of funds records

When you receive funds in any form (in cash or in another form) in the amount of $3,000 or more in the course of a single transaction, you must record: 

Funds paid by a client through a bank or other financial intermediary are considered to have been received from that client. In other words, funds received from your client by means of a cheque, bank draft, wire transfer, or any other means is considered to be a receipt of funds.

If you are assisting a foreign buyer that is out of the country to purchase real estate and receive an amount of $3,000 or more, you must keep a receipt of funds record.

If the receipt of funds record is about a client that is a corporation, you must also keep a copy of the part of the official corporate records that contains any provision relating to the power to bind the corporation regarding the transaction. This could be a certificate of incumbency, the articles of incorporation or the bylaws of the corporation that set out the officers duly authorized to sign on the behalf of the corporation, such as the president, treasurer, vice-president, comptroller, etc.

If there were changes subsequent to the articles or bylaws that related to the power to bind the corporation regarding the transaction, and these changes were applicable at the time the transaction was conducted, then the board resolution stating the change should be included in this type of record.

Retention: You must keep a receipt of funds record for at least five years from the date the record was created.

4. Reasonable measures records

The term “reasonable measures” refers to activities you are expected to undertake in order to meet certain obligations. The PCMLTFA and associated Regulations explicitly state when you must take reasonable measures to meet an obligation.

As of June 17, 2017, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations have been changed to require that a record be kept when reasonable measures were taken, but were unsuccessful. A reasonable measure is unsuccessful when you do not obtain a response, such as a yes or no, and you are unable to make a conclusive determination. Refer to section 67.3 of the Regulations for every activity where you are required to keep records when reasonable measures were unsuccessful.

When reasonable measures are unsuccessful, you must record the following information:

You must outline the reasonable measures that you take in your compliance policies and procedures. This can form part of your unsuccessful reasonable measures record, or you could document, on a case-by-case basis, the measure taken in each record for unsuccessful reasonable measures. For example, if you ask a client if they are conducting a large cash transaction on behalf of a third party and they refuse to answer your record should indicate that you asked, the date you asked and the fact that the client refused to answer yes or no.

Should you take a measure that is not included in your policies and procedures, you would have to include details of that measure taken in your record of unsuccessful reasonable measures.

Retention: You must keep records of your unsuccessful reasonable measures for at least five years following the date they were created.

Exceptions to record keeping requirements

If you are required to keep a record about information that is readily available in other records that you have kept, you do not have to record the same information again. This means that if you keep the required information and can produce it during a FINTRAC examination you do not need to create a new record to meet your obligations.

You do not need to keep a record for the receipt of funds in an amount of $3,000 or more if the funds are received from a public body or very large corporation. The exception also applies for a subsidiary for either of those entities, if the financial statements of the subsidiary are consolidated with those of the public body or very large corporation.

You do not need to keep a large cash transaction record if the cash is received from a public body or a financial entity.

You are not required to keep a receipt of funds record if the funds are received from a financial entity or a public body.

You are not required to keep a receipt of funds record if you must keep a large cash transaction record for the same transaction.

Date Modified: