Demand for Remote Online Notarization on the Rise Due to COVID-19

Dilani Silva,

Notarization and notary services play a critical role in the mortgage closing process to ensure all paperwork is in order to finalize and close the deal. Traditionally, the notarization process is completed in-person with the notary or notary public, who is authorized by the state to screen the identity of the signer and to vet and certify the authenticity of the notarized documents. The notarization process can be lengthy and prone to errors, because a number of paper documents require ink signatures and manual archiving.

In recent years, technology has helped streamline and automate the notarization process, leading more states to create laws to facilitate electronic notarization online between signers and Notaries. With the government asking the population to limit in-person contact and imposing social distancing protocols due to COVID-19, how will people continue to notarize property deeds, wills, affidavits, or real estate transfer paperwork? Remote Online Notarization (RON) could be the answer to complete the full notarization process online.

What Is Remote Online Notarization?

Remote Online Notarization enables signers and Notaries to get documents signed and notarized online without the need to physically meet one another. The signer uses electronic signatures to complete documents in the presence of a notary public through a live video call. The notary must validate and authenticate the identity of the signer using KBA or ID verification technology. The notary is required to record and retain the recording of portions of the notarization session.

Changes to State Laws on Remote Online Notarization in the United States Due to COVID-19

Last year, twenty-three U.S. states had laws in place to allow Remote Online Notarization. Since the COVID-19 outbreak with more individuals urged to work remotely, notarizing documents in a traditional face-to-face scenario poses a unique challenge. In response, nineteen states , including Florida, West Virginia, North Dakota, Texas, and more, have enacted emergency short-term measures to enable RON. These RON laws will help Notaries carry out their duties remotely with signers. As an example, New York’s Executive Order 202.7 immediately authorized notarial acts to be performed utilizing audio-visual technology under certain conditions. Executive Order 207.7 was clarified by the Secretary of State with updated guidance, permitting signers to use electronic signatures in accordance with the New York Electronic Signatures and Records Act, provided that the notary witnesses the electronic signature.

Additionally, on March 18, 2020, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (“SECURE Act”) was introduced as Senate Bill 3533. If passed, it will authorize every notary in the U.S to perform Remote Online Notarizations using audio-video technology and tamper-evident technology. The bill also establishes minimum standards for remote notarizations. 

How OneSpan Can Support RON

With a rise in adoption for electronic signatures and the need to complete documents online, OneSpan can help streamline the RON process with the OneSpan Sign eNotary feature.

OneSpan Sign eNotary allows notary publics in approved state jurisdictions to electronically witness, sign, and seal documents in a face-to-face scenario with signers. To meet Remote Online Notarization requirements, OneSpan Sign eNotary can be used in conjunction with web conferencing software to help meet the legal requirements specified for your state jurisdiction.

Notaries can leverage OneSpan Sign eNotary to create a Remote Online Notarization project that avoids the in-person interaction while ensuring the security of the notarial act:

  1. The signer contacts the remote online notary public to request a remote online notarization.
  2. The signer’s document is sent to the notary. The notary can upload the document to OneSpan Sign, add the signer to the electronic document, and then place signature fields in the electronic document. The notary then includes additional fields such as his license number, jurisdiction, and license expiry date. The notary has the option of placing a Notary Seal field that automatically generates the notary’s information in a single field.
  3. The notary public and the signer communicate online using web conferencing software. The notary records the notarization session as required by the state’s regulation.
  4. The notary validates the signer’s identity as they would in person by asking the signer to hold their ID in front of the camera or by using ID verification technology, in accordance with the local regulations. Once the signer’s identity has been verified, both the signer and the notary must sign the document. The notary will pass control to the signer to sign the documents.
  5. Once the signer has completed the signing process and applied an electronic signature, the notary will take back control to sign the electronic document and apply their Notary Seal to complete the notarization.
  6. The remote online nNotary records any required information in the eJournal which is included in the OneSpan Sign eNotary feature.
  7. The notary downloads the recorded portion of the process from the web conferencing software and retains it with the signed electronic document.
  8. The OneSpan Sign service delivers a copy of the notarized document to the signer via email.

If your organization is considering a Remote Online Notarization process, it’s important to understand and follow your state jurisdiction regulations for notarization requirements as modified by the emergency executive orders or other official guidance. Remote Online Notarization and eNotary procedures may vary depending on state laws, and not all states permit Notaries to perform Remote Online Notarization or use eNotary. Speak to your legal department for advice about this matter. 

Contact us to learn how we can help your organization support Remote Online Notarization with eNotary and KBA capabilities. If you’re an existing OneSpan customer, contact your OneSpan Account Manager or Customer Success Representative to start using the OneSpan Sign eNotary feature today.

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The information contained in this document is for information purposes only, provided as is as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how the law applies to your business or organization. It is recommended that you seek guidance from your legal counsel with regard to law applying specifically to your business or organization and how to ensure compliance.

Dilani Silva is a Product Marketing Manager at OneSpan. In her role, she manages and executes the go-to-market strategy, positioning, messaging and sales enablement for OneSpan’s e-signature solution, OneSpan Sign.