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- Even with a mobile notary service at your fingertips, there are times when a fully virtual option for notarizations can be necessary. With 24 states officially implementing remote online notarizations, and more on the horizon thanks to COVID-19, getting your documents notarized online could be an option depending on where you live and your comfort level with online notarization services.
- These remote online notarizations are an increasingly popular option — and we want to take some time to talk about the pros and cons of services like these.
Are Remote Online Notary Publics Valid?
Since the process of notarizations specifically requires you to be in the room with a Notary Public, you may be wondering:
Are remote online Notary Publics even valid?
The answer is a mix of yes and no. So far, close to half of the states in the U.S. have online notarizations fully or partially implemented.
So the availability of remote online notarizations (abbreviated RON) depends on where you live. States like Montana, Texas, Minnesota, and more, have RON on the books and fully implemented. Other states, like Florida, Kentucky, Idaho, and Oklahoma have implemented remote online notarizations as an emergency order, and it remains to be seen if it will stay around.
The states who have adopted the remote online notary service have very uniform requirements for what you need to make things official. You should make sure that any remote online Notary Public that offers you notarizations keep every aspect of the notarial act consistent.
Remote online notarizations need to have rules around:
- What constitutes “personal appearance” — In a physical, in-person notarization, a Notary Public can check on the individuals appearing in front of them easily. The use of audio-visual technology needs to create equivalence in communication and the ability to authenticate.
- How to reliably establish the signer’s identity — Authentication methods have to include credential analysis, witnesses, and even knowledge-based authentications, like tests generated from a third-party database.
- How to record the individuals’ locations — While the signer’s location doesn’t matter, the online Notary Public is only allowed to be present within the state they were commissioned in for the notarial act to be valid.
- Keeping records of notarial transactions — Since notaries also have the option to keep a journal (which is mandatory in some states), online Notary Publics can create electronic or digital copies, along with a back-up.
So far, the law recognizes RON as valid in the states that choose to adopt it, as long as the states incorporate standards for these key areas.
Electronic Notarization is Not the Same as an Online Notary
If someone asks a Notary Public to perform an online or remote notarization, that’s not the same thing as an electronic or “E-notarization.” In an e-notarization, the Notary Public and the parties are still physically present. However, all the documents are notarized in electronic form.
The confusion arises from the fact that there are digital documents involved in both types of notarizations. Only the signature is digital or “electronic.” However, in an electronic notarization, the Notary still needs to conduct the Notarial Act with the clients in the same physical space.
What Do You Need for an Online Notary Appointment?
To prepare for your remote online notary appointment, here’s what you’ll need:
- Audio-visual equipment — Webcams, high-speed internet, and a computer, tablet, or smartphone with two-way audio is a must
- Valid photo identification — One to two forms of identification, which could be some combination of driver’s license, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Green card/PR card, military I.D., Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- Witnesses — States such as Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina call for witnesses to sign certain documents. These witnesses will need to be with you in the same room, and they’ll also need valid I.D.
Once you have these ready to go, the Notarial Act proceeds as expected.Find a notary near me
What Does an Online Notary Cost?
Remote online Notary services cost almost the same as regular notary fees. It depends on the state you live in and the services you need. For example, in Ohio, an online notary can cost up to $25.
That said, the online notary service process is almost entirely the same, and the Notary Public still has to be as diligent and detail-oriented with authentication and record-keeping.
How Does the Online Notary Service Work?
Online notaries can be beneficial for both Notary Publics and their clients, but the technology behind this is still evolving. The protocols for identification must be encrypted, and clients always go through multiple checks before even speaking with an online notary. The extra levels of security are necessary, but they also mitigate some of the convenience that remote notarizations afford. Here is the process, in brief:
Step 1: Proving Your Identity Through Online Tools
First, you’ll need to use online, third-party tools to go through a few levels of personal identification. Have your chosen ID (licenses and passports) ready, as the online notary may choose to use a platform that uses knowledge-based testing to confirm that you’re a human.
Step 2: The Online Notary Public Further Confirms Identification
Once you meet with your online Notary Public, the process proceeds as usual. The Notary Publics will rely on audio-visual technology to detect duress during an online notarization. At this point, the Notary Public goes through the Notarial Act as they would in-person. The notarial seal or stamp is affixed to the appropriate short form, and the documents are signed.
Step 3: Transactions are Recorded and Securely Stored
Once the online notary service is complete, the software or platform your online Notary Public may work from could have an automatic transaction record feature. In this case, digital copies of the transaction are safely stored and can’t be accessed by anyone except the Notary Public.
Records of transactions, which also include journals recording the details of the notarial act, can be stored digitally and kept safe under digital security software. All documents are available right after the session, and there’s no way to alter these digital documents.
Online notary services are comparable to in-person notarizations in many ways. Much like mediations, you have to try an online notarization and experience it for yourself to decide if the benefits of online notary services are worth it for you.
If you’re not ready to take advantage of online notary services, but you’re still looking for convenience, use our mobile notary services instead. Contact Superior Notary Services today to learn more about how we expedite the official aspects of the most important decisions in your life.Get Started Today!
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