Are Online Notary Services Legal?

Are Online Notary Services Legal?

Are you thinking about offering online notary services but not sure if it’s legal? Are you in search of online notary services but not sure where to start? Read on to find legit answers to this and other questions pertaining to remote online notarizations!

Rushing around to get documents notarized the traditional way is so yesterday!

Between tracking down a notary, making an appointment during business hours, and relying on paper forms and ink seals that can get lost or damaged… it can quickly become a daunting and time-consuming process!

That’s why remote online notarization (“RON”) services are revolutionizing the game. Securing and enabling commerce using remote and electronic secure platforms is the way to go in this digital age!

RON platforms allow notaries to securely confirm identities, notarize e-documents, and maintain comprehensive journals. That means no more wasted time or money on office visits. Not to mention, you can also access these services from anywhere with an internet connection!

With all these benefits in mind, many people are asking, “Is online notarization even legal?” That’s a totally reasonable question seeing as permanent remote online notarization feels almost too easy. Plus, it’s still a new-ish concept to some individuals. So today, I’m dedicating this post to clarifying whether online notary services are legal or not. I’ll also dig into every other thing you need to know about performing remote notarization!

Are Online Notary Services Legal?

For ages, notarizing documents meant meeting up in-person and dealing with stamps and seals. Those days are so 2011!

Virginia was the first state to pioneer remote online notarization (RON) by passing groundbreaking laws that year. Suddenly, commissioned notaries could verify signatures over audio-video calls! A win for everyone involved! 

RON platforms allow signers and notaries to connect digitally from anywhere

Instead of having to coordinate a mutual time and place, RON platforms allow signers and notaries to connect digitally from anywhere and perform remote online notarization. With a secure two-way video link, identities get confirmed virtually while documents are stamped and recorded electronically.

Online notarizations have been an absolute game-changer, streamlining over 1.25 billion records that need certification each year in the U.S. No more snail-mailing contracts or rushing across town!

Several other states quickly followed Virginia’s lead by authorizing RON services. Nowadays, this modern verification method is 100% legal in most states and is increasingly the preferred option for smoother business transactions.

By the end of this guide, any doubts about online notarizations will be laid to rest. I’ll fully explain how RON technology works, its robust security features, and why it’s an ingenious solution over traditional in-person processes! Let’s dig in!

What Is Remote Online Notarization?

Remote online notarization (RON) is basically the act of getting official documents certified without the in-person hassle. Normally, when you need something notarized, you’d have to track down a notary public that’s a special official who verifies identities and witnesses signatures to prevent fraud. He/she acts as an unbiased third-party to ensure important paperwork like contracts, affidavits, etc., is legit before submitting it.

The “remote online” part means this notary process gets handled virtually rather than meeting up somewhere. Using secure video calls, e-signatures, and digital ID verification, the notary can remotely ensure you are who you say you are. Then, they electronically stamp and record everything in their official notary journal. Easy peasy! 

The beauty of RON is that thanks to interstate recognition laws, a virtual notarization validly completed by a commissioned notary in one state holds up across all other states. As long as the notary laws and protocols of the commissioning state are followed, that RON stamp is golden!

Practically any document you’d normally get notarized in-person can go through the remote online process instead. Things like affidavits, deeds, powers of attorney, and loan documents the RON process works for pretty much all of them! So convenient!

There are just a few exceptions where virtual notarization isn’t quite accepted yet. These include wills and trusts in most states, birth/marriage/death certificates, documents headed overseas, paperwork involving minors, and cases where the notary has a personal interest. But for the vast majority of notarization needs, RON is 100% legit! 

How Does Remote Online Notarization Work?

Here’s exactly how Remote Online Notarization works:

Step 1: Uploading Your Documents 

First up, you just send over the paperwork that needs notarizing it could be an existing contract or agreement, or you can use one of the platform’s templates. Once that’s uploaded, you’ll add in the information for whoever needs to sign and approve it. Then, here’s the cool part: you can drag-and-drop fields right onto the document to capture things like signatures, printed names, dates, and all other requirements digitally. 

As you get set up, make sure RON is legally valid in your state (and the notary’s state, too). Ensure you also use a platform that has legit audio-video capabilities and other requirements to handle the whole process virtually. You can choose from top platforms like NotaryCam, DocuSign, NotaryLive, DocVerify, and Notarize. They provide the needed tools to kick off this online process.

Step 2: Validating Signers’ Identities

Once those documents are uploaded, each person who needs to sign will get a personalized email link to join the live virtual notarization session. This helps keep things secure; only the intended signers have access.

Before joining, there’s a quick tech check to make sure you have a working camera, microphone, and decent internet connection for a smooth audio-video experience. After that, it’s time for the important identity verification portion.

The signer will be prompted to snap a photo of their government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport. Fancy identity proofing technologies then verify that the ID is legitimate and matches the signer’s face.

Some platforms also have signers answer specific personal background questions that get cross-checked against third-party databases. It’s like a virtual interrogation to confirm beyond a doubt that you are who you say you are. Only once the identity is 100% validated does the actual notarization proceed. 

Step 3. Signing and Notarizing

Once identities are verified, it’s time for the main event the live, virtual signing and electronic notarization! This two-way audio-video session happens right on the RON platform of your choosing.

During this virtual meeting, the signers can review the documents together with the notary. They can ask any final questions, and double-check everything is complete and accurate before moving forward.

The notary will be documenting everything in their electronic journal, capturing all the critical details about this official notarial act they are overseeing virtually.

When everyone is ready, the signers will e-sign the documents in real-time as the notary remotely witnesses and notarizes each signature with their official digital seal and stamp. Finally, that entire video recording of the session, along with the now-notarized documents, gets securely stored and backed up in the notary’s tamper-proof journal.

Any changes attempted after the fact would be evident thanks to technologies that detect any alterations to those official, notarized records.

Each state has it's own rules for notary services

Which States Allow Remote Online Notarization?

As of the start of 2024, a whopping 44 U.S. states (88% of the country!) have passed some form of legislation fully permitting and regulating remote online notarizations. However, it’s important to note that each state has its own specific set of rules and requirements that notaries and signers must follow for RON to be fully valid and legal. There’s no one-size-fits-all federal law.

That means both notaries and the people getting documents notarized virtually need to thoroughly understand the RON statutes for whichever states they reside in. Don’t just assume that if it’s allowed in one state, you’re automatically good to go elsewhere.

You’ll want to review the applicable state remote notarization laws and be prepared to meet any stipulations around identity proofing, credential analysis, audio-video standards, record-keeping, and more.

Below are the states that have fully legalized remote online notary in 2024:

The rise of RON is a game-changer for notaries
Online notarization is a modern convenience that’s quickly becoming the new normal.

The rise of RON is a game-changer for notaries looking to vastly expand their reach and client base. As well as for biz-owers like you to take care of biz fast and easy. No more geographic restrictions you can legally notarize across the state or country from home!

But of course, if you’re notarizing something for your biz, you need to dot those legal i’s and cross those t’s first. Things like air-tight client contracts, robust website policies, proper insurance coverage, and other ways to legally protect your online business. It’s not worth the risk to launch without a solid foundation!

That’s where the resources and templates I provide come in handy. Having customizable, fill-in-the-blank legal templates and expert guidance on contracts online business owners need to protect their biz and how to sign a contract online ensures your businesses start off on the right foot.

I also cover the full start-up spectrum with my podcast, blogs, and Ultimate Bundle™. Why try to figure it all out alone when an experienced professional can streamline the entire process? Reach out to me for all the tips and tricks you need to get your biz up and running, and more importantly, legally protected!

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