Technological advances have influenced almost every area of life, but many laws and guidelines for notaries remain stuck in the past. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult or even impossible for people to get together safely, the idea of remote notarization has gained momentum.
What Is a Remote Notary?
Essentially, a remote notary is simply someone who notarizes documents without being in the physical presence of the signer. This is done via video calls, typically over a secure program for safety and privacy.
Do All States Allow Remote Notaries?
State laws surrounding remote notarization of documents can vary significantly. However, as of 2021, 29 states have enacted permanent laws permitting notaries to perform their duties remotely. The majority of other states have some kind of temporary policy in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of those states are expected to make those laws permanent. Currently, the only states that do not allow any remote notarization are California and South Carolina.
Laws and Regulations
All states require the notarization to be performed over a call that provides both visual and audio communication, rather than simply a phone call. Notaries are still required to witness the person sign the document and to verify their identity according to that state's particular laws.
One thing to be aware of is that some states restrict what types of documents can be notarized remotely, and others set additional requirements notaries must meet in order to be permitted to work remotely. The notarization may be invalid if these requirements aren't met, even if it would be valid if done in person.
As of 2021, there is no federal law permitting remote notaries. However, the SECURE Notarization Act has been submitted to the House. If it passes, it may pave the way for a more standardized system of remote notarization.