Exploring the Legal Framework of Remote Online Notarization

As a result of the social distancing and shelter-in-place protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, many notaries are seeing an increase in requests for remote online notarizations (RON).

RON uses audio-visual electronic communication technology to fulfill a notary’s critical role. It is sometimes called webcam notarization, online notarization, or virtual notarization.

What Is RON?

Remote online notarization (RON) is an innovative way to authenticate documents through audio-video technology. When executed under state law by a properly commissioned notary public, a digitally notarized document is as legally effective as any other traditionally notarized document.

Compared to a face-to-face signing, RON can be much faster and more convenient for both parties. A notary can sign in from anywhere with a secure Internet connection. It makes RON ideal for real estate transactions like quitclaim deeds and child custody agreements, but it also has other uses in banking, healthcare, and more.

Top RON solutions utilize credential analysis technology to verify identity and are backed by robust audit trails and security standards. These include a tamper-evident digital seal, electronic journal, and video recording. They should also be MISMO compliant and SOC 2 Type 2. 

What Are the Legal Requirements for RON?

RON laws and compliance are governed by state notary regulations and the security protocols that apply to electronic signatures. Generally, a RON solution uses dedicated audio-visual technology to ensure the notary can see and hear all parties involved in the signing ceremony. It must also offer robust backup files, including a video recording and an electronic journal that meet the notary’s requirements under state law.

Notaries that perform RON must adhere to the same standards as traditional notaries. It includes a tamper-evident seal, an electronic journal, and a robust audit trail.

Most states that have adopted RON require either the notary or the third-party RON provider to be approved by the secretary of state to operate a remote online notary service. It can be accomplished through self-certification or application and certification models. Those using RON to close loans or other mortgage transactions should choose a MISMO (Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization)-approved platform. It provides a level of compliance that protects consumers and lenders.

How Can I Prepare for a Remote Online Notarization?

To prepare for a remote online notarization, you will need a computer with a reliable internet connection and a camera (to communicate with the notary in real time). You may also need to upload documents and identity proofs that the notary will request for KBN and credential analysis.

Unlike traditional paper-based closings, remote online notarization allows lenders and signers to connect remotely through an audio-video chat session with a certified notary public. This digital process reduces document consumption by 80% and provides a more robust record through identity verification, credential analysis, and tamper-evident seals.

Additionally, RON offers sustainable benefits for the mortgage industry by eliminating travel and reducing waste. It can eliminate the need for tens of millions of sheets of paper while still providing an end-to-end digital process that ensures compliance. It helps streamline the mortgage process and improves customer experience by reducing the need for lengthy in-person meetings and rescheduled appointments. Additionally, it enables notaries to certify more mortgage documents faster.

How Can I Find an Online Notary?

Online remote notarizations offer a safer, simpler, and more innovative alternative to traditional paper-based notarizations. It allows signers to connect with a notary remotely via audio-video technology and eliminates the need to meet in person. In addition to convenience, it can save businesses time and money as signers no longer have to travel or schedule a meeting to get their documents notarized.

To find an online notary:

  1. Visit the website of your preferred service provider.
  2. Once you’ve chosen a notary, upload your document and provide the notary with valid identification that will be used to verify your identity.
  3. Follow the notary’s instructions for connecting with them using a live web conferencing platform.

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