Understanding the Remote Notarization Process
For important documents and real estate transactions, a notary public is a professional who represents the state. A properly notarized document has legally binding authority. The notary’s job is to prevent fraud by verifying the identities of everyone involved. To notarize a document, the official places his or her seal on the document. This used to mean that the notary had to be present in person at the signing of the document.
However, there are reasons that someone may not want to meet in person with a notary. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for any in-person meetings to happen. For other people, seeking an alternative to an in-person notary may simply be a matter of convenience or concern about the safety of important information. As online technology has improved, more states are allowing a remote notarization option.
How does an online notary work?
If you would like to have a remote notary witness the signing of your documents, there are a few steps to the process. The easiest way to coordinate with a notary is to contact a remote notary service. These businesses have developed online platforms to keep the notarization process safe and secure. They also use notaries who have been specially trained for remote work.
The essence of notarization still revolves around verifying the identity of the person or people signing documents. To notarize a document, you must upload your document and your identification. Once the notary has verified that you are who you say you are, he or she will witness the electronic signing of your document and apply an electronic seal. Then, you will be able to access the notarized document through the notary platform.
What types of documents can an online notary handle?
Each state has different rules about which documents require notarization. Since using a remote process is a fairly new idea, some states limit the documents that a virtual notary can witness. You can use remote notarization for any document for which it is legal in your state. Because states want to encourage economic growth, most states that allow virtual notarization will allow financial documents such as loan applications and real estate transactions to be handled remotely. The online service may have restrictions on the size of remote documents, limiting the data to no more than 25MB.
The Remote Notary Appointment
Although you may not be meeting in person, you still must meet in real time with your online notary. When you use a remote notary company, the notary will log on at his or her location. Then, you will receive an invitation to join the appointment.
Reputable remote online notary service providers recognize the importance of security when handling your personal information and important documents. Your session and any data transfers should happen over a secure connection with strong encryption protocols.
The next step is critical. The online notary must verify your identity. The requirements for verification vary from state to state. Some states only require that you scan and submit the front and back of your driver’s license. Other states are more thorough and require you to answer verification questions based on your personal or credit history.
To prevent fraud, a remote notary service may exceed a state’s legal requirements for identity verification. Some companies insist on at least a two-step verification process that involves both background questions and a picture ID.
Once you have verified your identity, you are ready to sign your documents. The notary will talk you through the process of signing your document electronically. Then, the online notary has a special software program to add an electronic seal to your document.
When the session closes, you can access your legally notarized information. It is important to retrieve your notarized document soon. For the sake of security and privacy, online notary companies will delete any information that they are not required to keep.
How much does an online notary cost?
Your online notary service provider determines the cost of notary services. Like many online businesses, they will preauthorize your credit card before the session begins. Typically, there is a base fee to notarize a document in a remote session. Then, there will be an additional cost per seal in that session.
Is it legal to notarize online?
Not every state has permanent laws about remote notarization on the books. As of 2020, 15 states including Texas, Florida and Ohio had passed permanent remote notarization laws. Another seven states had legislation under discussion or set to pass.
The inability to notarize documents will disrupt many financial and legal processes. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every state in the country has some form of emergency remote online notarization in place. Your remote notary company should be able to tell whether or not an online notary will work in your case.
An online notary is a strong option for handling your legal documents. Working with an online notary service is a secure way to keep your affairs in order from the safety and convenience of your home.