COVID-19 and the Rise of Online Notary Demand

Just a year ago nobody thought much about notarizations. They were just part of everyday business for law firms, mortgage and title companies, insurance brokers, real estate agents, auto dealerships and private individuals conducting everyday business. Depending on where you live in the United States you may have to travel a short distance to a notary or you can find a mobile notary to visit your home or office. 

Then in 2020 COVID-19 upended everything. Offices were closed and people began working from home and began holding meetings online. Transactions that were already in process were suddenly uncertain. 

Federal state and local governments told everyone to stay at home as much as possible. Notaries and other people whose businesses were largely conducted in person suddenly needed to change — fast. 

Remote Online Notarizations

Some notaries have already become online providers and the technology has been available since 2012. So far 23 states have already enacted laws allowing remote online notarizations (RON) But suddenly more online notaries are needed to fill the need in place of the in-person signature. 

As the world adapted to this new remote business model state governments began to pass short-term emergency measures for online notaries. State law changes are either temporary or permanent. 

The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 was introduced into the U.S. Senate. Also called the SECURE Notarization Act upon passage it would allow RON in all 50 states immediately. 

What It Is

Remote Online Notarization (RON)  is an entirely online process that allows notaries to meet with their clients to complete a transaction from their own home or office. In a face-to-face video session, a notary can meet with signers to electronically witness sign and seal a document without being in the same room. It’s fast and easy and doesn’t require travel to an in-person meeting. 

RON is different than electronic notarizations which still require in-person meetings. The notarial seal signature or certificate is created and everything is stored electronically. 

Note that notaries are still required to comply with any legal requirements that are needed for a particular document presented by a client. Additional parties, such as an attorney, that are needed during notarization will still be required. The difference is that now all parties can participate virtually on an approved notarization platform. 

Notaries must still comply with the legal requirements for the document they need to notarize. A document that needs additional witnesses or the presence of an attorney when notarized in person still requires the presence of parties when the document is notarized online. The only difference, however, is that the parties may now participate remotely via an approved provider’s online platform. 

Before using remote notarial services for any land transaction, a notary should check with their title company as to whether a remote notary provider is approved for insurance purposes. 

What About My State?

States that did not yet have remote online notarizations issued executive orders and emergency guidance for notaries to continue providing services. As of mid-June, these 26 states have either passed laws or emergency provisions to allow for ROM.

Because each state law is different, it’s important to check with your notary or attorney before planning an online notarization. This will avoid any unpleasant surprises and ensure that your notarization can be done remotely. For instance, South Dakota has extremely limiting rules on ROM. The notary must personally know the signer, and the notary’s signature must be on the actual paper document. 

If your state has not yet passed laws or issued an executive order or emergency guidance ROM is not yet permitted. The National Notary Association also has a page on their website listing all updates to notary laws in the United States. 

What You Need

If you’re already a traditional notary, I’ve written a previous article which details what you’ll need to begin doing remote online notarizations. 

You’ll also need a computer (desktop or laptop) that’s capable of doing video web calls, and the equipment to do so. This includes a webcam, speakers, and a microphone. Many newer computers have these extras already built into the machine, making video calls easier. 

Note that you can’t do these online notarizations on Skype or Zoom. You’ll need an approved online platform just for notaries. 

OneNotary is the newest electronic online platform that lets you notarize documents online quickly and easily. Start with a free account, and use their simple plug-and-play interface to do online notarizations. There are no monthly or hidden fees, and OneNotary handles all transaction costs. Once your profile is completed, you’ll simply invite your clients to a session, they pay for it with a credit card, verify their identity, and the session can begin. OneNotary is faster and easier than most other platforms, and lets you do more notarizations. 

What About Security? 

OneNotary’s end-to-end encryption means safer transactions and a secure virtual environment for sessions. Their integrated system incorporates Secure Storage and an Electronic Journal for all of your sessions, Identity Proofing (KBA), and Credential Analysis. 

Their identify verification vendor uses both pictures of a signers’ government-issued ID and answers to personal questions. The signer provides pictures of a driver’s license, state identification card, or other similar ID through an encrypted channel. A multilayered analysis of identity is then performed on the images. Only after the signer’s identity is verified will you be able to perform a notarization. 

Ready To Become An Online Notary? 

If you’re on the fence about going online, now is a great time to do so. The need for remote online notaries is here right now. OneNotary can help you join the notaries who have stepped up to fill the need for remote online notarizations. 

OneNotary is a fast and easy solution to digitize your notary practice and begin doing remote online notarizations immediately. You can get started with a free account and begin notarizing online for clients within a day. 

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