Remote Online Notarizations: A New Concept We’re Getting Familiar With

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Now a notary for your documents is merely a few clicks away, rather than a few miles away. This new capability has sprung forth from a marriage of technology and notarial law, but what is the legal framework upon which remote online notarizations rest?

The legal framework that remote online notarizations are based on begins with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (The E-Sign Act) which was signed into law in 2000. UETA, which has been adopted by 47 states, with the remaining three states upholding similar legislation, provides a framework for states to determine the legality of electronic signatures. Along with some important required consumer disclosures, The Federal E-Sign Act made electronic records and electronic signatures the same as traditional paper records and wet signatures in terms of effectiveness and validity in the eyes of the law for any transaction that effected interstate or international commerce. The use and acceptance of electronic signatures and records, along with audiovisual communications technology, allows remote online notarizations to enjoy the benefits of being a fully digital experience. Since the record and signature are electronic, the document can be uploaded, prepared, executed, notarized, tamper-sealed, and transmitted back to the principal signor for recording all in a matter of minutes.

The next legal principle is the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution, which states: “full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” In the notarial world, this means that each state shall recognize a notarization performed in another state as if it were performed by a notary public of the recording State under the laws of that recording State. As an example, if eNotaryLog abides by Florida’s remote online notarization laws and provides a valid Florida online notarization performed by a Florida notary to a resident of Georgia, the party accepting that document in Georgia is to act as though the document was notarized by a Georgia notary according to the laws of a valid Georgia notarization. While UETA and the E-Sign Act laid the foundation for remote online notarizations to be digital, the Full Faith and Credit Clause allows notaries and signors to leverage remote online notarizations as a digital process. Through a remote online notarization platform with the Full Faith and Credit Clause, a signor now has access to a national notary market. Likewise, a notary can service notarial transactions for signors nationwide.

Finally, there are the remote online notarization laws themselves. The component that allows remote online notarizations to be “remote” is the redefining of the concept of being “in the presence of the notary.” Traditionally for a valid notarization, the signor would need to be in the same room as the notary to satisfy this requirement, but with remote online notarization laws, “presence” is satisfied by uninterrupted audiovideo communications technology of sufficient quality to allow the signor and notary to communicate in real-time. notarization bill contains a “relation to other laws” provision which reaffirms that remote online notarizations are a valid means of notarization un-der the state’s laws like this provision from Florida’s remote online notarization law, “If a provision of law requires a notary public or other autho-rized official of this state to notarize a signature or statement, to take an acknowledgment of an instrument, or to administer an oath or affirmation so that a document may be sworn, affirmed, made under oath, or subject to penalty of perjury, an online notarization performed in accordance with the provisions of this part and any rules adopted hereunder satisfies such requirement.” This is an important provision that considers remote online notarizations to be the same in the eyes of the law as a traditional notarization, and it places remote online notarizations within the scope of interstate recognition.

Remote online notarization laws have revolutionized the notarial act that remained mostly unchanged for hundreds of years, until now and they are quickly sweeping across the nation. There are 24 states with their own enacted RON laws with many more in the process of being passed. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many states such as New York have passed emergency executive orders to permit some version of RON to take place to help facilitate the continuation of commerce. This trend of spreading remote online notarization laws across the country should continue as more and more states, notaries and signors recognize and appreciate the value of remote online notarizations and the legal framework which supports it.

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