June 18, 2024

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Best Practices for Virtual Notarization

Transform your notarizations for the digital age with remote online notarization (RON). RON delivers a convenient and intuitive experience to both signers and notaries public while helping you meet your teams’ notarization needs and uphold best practices.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, New York adopted temporary emergency laws allowing virtual notarizations. These laws are now permanent.

Know Your State’s Laws

The increasing trend towards remote work and online transactions has required a change in the implementation of legal processes, such as notarization. Many states have enacted laws allowing virtual notarization to help facilitate this shift. However, these laws vary in their application.

New York’s law, for example, requires notaries to notify the Department of State (DOS) of their intention to conduct RONs and to identify each communication technology they intend to use, which must comply with the DOS’ standards. This requirement is one of the reasons it’s essential to check with the intended recipients of a document—such as local DMVs or federal agencies—to see if they have specific requirements for online submissions.

Other states, like Pennsylvania, require notaries to use a third-party provider self-certified or approved through an “application and certification” model. These providers must be able to verify the signer’s identity through identity proofing and credential analysis, which involves the notary reviewing the document or pictures provided by the signer and performing knowledge-based authentication, in which the signer answers a series of questions about their personal history.

Know Your Technology

Virtual notarization occurs in a live, two-way audio-visual session within the user’s browser. This eliminates the need for downloads and plug-ins, ensuring the process is fast and easy. The notary public also completes a live electronic journal, capturing critical information about the notarization.

This solution can be invaluable for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and home flippers who need a simple and effective way to sign closing documents. These professionals can save time and money by streamlining their processes and eliminating physical barriers.

However, there are some cases where virtual signatures should not be used. For example, prenuptial agreements and other contracts that require wet signatures should not be notarized online. This could lead to future litigation that undermines the validity of the deal. That’s why knowing your state’s laws and checking with the recipient of a completed transaction before implementing RON is essential.

Know Your Documents

Using the Document Details feature allows you to provide notaries with a detailed description of each document and any special instructions for handling it. This helps ensure that your signers know precisely what to expect during the notary session, resulting in a better experience for everyone involved.

For example, you can use the Document Details feature to remind signers to bring their ID to their notary meeting or to let them know they must complete page-counting and initialing. You can also share any other information that may help your notary prepare for the session, such as any specifics about the document or your organization’s unique requirements.

Remote online notarization (RON) enables notaries to connect with signers over the Internet using audio-visual technology to verify a person’s identity and confirm the authenticity of their signature. RON allows notaries to perform notarial acts without physically meeting with the document signers and is available in many states.

Know Your Clients

As a notary, you can help people in many different industries. If you can market your remote notary services to clients in the real estate industry, you can work with home flippers who need to sign and seal documents quickly.

Clients in this field will appreciate that they can avoid meeting in person and travel before signing their documents. They can stay home and use a video recording to communicate with the notary. This option can make a big difference for clients with limited transportation options, busy schedules, or health issues.

Moreover, RON can help to keep notaries and their clients safe. Meeting with a signer over a video can also reduce the time that notaries spend driving, making them less likely to get involved in car accidents. This is especially important for those living in cities with high traffic congestion and congestion-related car accidents.