Notarization is an official fraud-deterrent process whereby a person authorized to perform acts in legal affairs witnesses the signing of important documents by involved parties. It is essential to notarize important documents such as those involved when buying a home; preventing fraud and forgery are not things to think about later.
Traditionally, people would find a public notary and travel to meet them in person. Usually, that meant setting a day aside for the process, which caused a tremendous delay, cost, and inconvenience to the parties involved. If you need a notary, you will be happy to know that remote online notarization allows you to notarize your documents virtually in the comfort of your home.
What is remote online notarization?
Remote online notarization establishes the authenticity of documents virtually through technologies such as identity verification, electronic signature, audio-visual and electronic notarial journal, and recordkeeping technologies.
For this form of notarization, notaries and the involved parties do not have to meet in person since these technologies enable the process remotely. Rather than finding the time and physical location to perform the act, a notary public and the two signers notarize on their devices wherever their sites, as long as their state laws permit remote online notarization.
Until the recent digital and internet advancements, in-person notaries have been operational in the United States since the 15th century. The progression from traditional notarization to remote online notarization did not happen immediately. First, signatories and the notary would meet virtually, but the signature still required wet ink.
The widespread use of electronic signatures followed, whereby involved parties could sign documents virtually but still meet in person to close. The process eventually became completely virtual, as seen today in most states.
General criteria for performing remote online notarization
More and more states are authorizing remote online notarization since the outbreak of COVID-19 to curb the spread of the virus. The details of how the procedure is carried out vary from state to state, but the underlying principles remain the same. Below is what a typical remote online notarization involves.
First, the signer sends a request to a notary before uploading the document on the online platform. The signer then needs to verify their identification according to their state laws. Identity verification is the most important step since it mitigates the risk of fraud.
To confirm identity, signers may need to answer a series of questions from their backgrounds verified against a third-party database. Other times the notary asks about the credit history of the signer or may ask the signer to take a picture of their government-issued ID.
Some online platforms allow the notary to personally attest to the signer’s identity only if they know each other. Once the verification is complete, the notary and the signers put signatures on the document through a two-way audio-visual session. During this live session, the signer and notary review the agreement to confirm every detail is filled incorrectly.
The notary then captures critical information about the notarial transaction and keeps the audio and video recording for future use. The electronic signature application can be integrated or independent, whereby the notary does everything. The notarized documents will then be sent to the signer as the state laws require.
The legality of remote online notarization
Electronic standard signatures have changed over time with the emergence of new technologies, and so have the standards governing notarization. Remote online notarization is gaining traction in the United States as a convenient and safe way to deter fraud in important documents.
However, the laws can vary between states, so you should familiarize yourself with your state laws by consulting with local counsel. Today, remote online notarization is fully implemented in 27 states.
Benefits of remote online notarization
With remote online notarization, signers and notaries do not have to gather in the same physical location but can conduct the entire process virtually. Therefore, accessing notarization services has become easier because transportation cost is not a factor. Removing this barrier makes it easier for everyone to notarize their documents, including people with chronic health conditions confining them in their homes, non-traditional work schedules, and those living in remote areas.
Foul play is difficult with remote online notarization since no one can alter the electronic signatures. With in-persona notarization that requires wet ink to sign, it is easy to change the signature or erase any other important information. During RON, signers present their government-issued identity cards and answer a series of questions from their personal history to verify their identity. These questions are then verified from a third-party base, adding another identity verification layer.
- Improved customer experience
Remote online notarization is a hassle-free process because signing documents do not need appointments, and there are no delays when the documents reach the buyer.
The future of remote online notarization is promising and is likely to become mainstream. It offers convenience, an important factor that the modern consumer considers. If you are a notary, the most appropriate time to take your business online is now.