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How Does Remote Online Notarization Work?

Notaries are a part of some of the most meaningful and impactful transactions of people in their community. From buying a home to executing a business contract, notaries help establish trust between two or more parties and build confidence in the transaction. With remote online notarization, notaries are able to serve even more people with little geographical restrictions. 

As long as notaries are working in a state that allows RON, get the proper certification, and follow guidelines specified by their commissioning state while executing an online notarization, this latest advance in business technology could be one of the most powerful tools to grow a notary business. 


What is Remote Online Notarization?

Remote online notarization or RON is the process of electronically signing and notarizing documents with the use of audio/video technology. Online notaries or eNotaries follow their state guidelines to identify the signers, complete the notarial act, and maintain the recordings. RON allows businesses and individuals to complete important transactions without meeting a notary in person. 

For notaries working in a state with RON approval, this is a great opportunity to expand customer reach without leaving the home or office. 

What states allow for RON? 

So far, 30 states have passed permanent remote online notarization laws. They include: 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado 
  • Florida 
  • Iowa
  • Idaho 
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana 
  • Maryland 
  • Michigan 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming


When it comes to the technology requirements, many of these states follow the minimum standards outlined in the SECURE Notarization Act, a federally proposed law to legalize RON in every state. The legislation is supported by organizations like the Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Land Title Association since it will have a profound impact on loan signings by providing legal certainty for mortgage lenders and settlement agents.

Those standards include: 

  1. Tamper-evident technology
  2. Multifactor authentication of identity to prevent fraud like KBA and ID proofing
  3. Secure audio-visual recording 


However, some states have additional requirements like a specified list of state-approved RON providers or registration of a digital certificate. Notaries should carefully review their Secretary of State’s guidelines before becoming certified as an online notary or contracting with a RON provider. 


Can I notarize a document for a client in a state without RON laws? 

Interstate recognition allows state-approved online notaries to execute documents remotely that will be recorded in another state. As long as the notary follows the rules of the state in which they are commissioned, the notarization is typically determined to be valid under interstate recognition statutes. 

Under interstate recognition, the validity of a notarial act is dependent on the jurisdiction where it is performed, so the receiving state doesn’t impose its rules, making domestic commerce easier and cheaper to complete. 

While no federal acts have been passed yet to create nationwide approval of RON, to many, the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution requires states to recognize the public acts of other jurisdictions. 

Also, each state has one or more uniform or non-uniform versions of an interstate recognition provision specifically related to notarial acts. 


Remote Online Notarization Certification

To perform a remote notarization, you must meet your state’s RON certification requirements. Typically, this includes training as a traditional notary before moving on to RON-specific training. Some states may allow you to take both courses at the same time, and some states may require an examination after training. 

Be sure to check with your Secretary of State for specific requirements. 


What is a digital certificate? 

The digital certificate creates trust in the transaction. In a digital age where cybercriminals impersonate professionals, the digital certificate that a notary is required to purchase acts as a form of ID. A third party confirms the purchaser’s identity and issues a certificate based on the vetting process. 

The notary creates a password to protect the application of the digital certificate and can store it on a USB flash drive or computer. Like a lockbox for a physical stamp, the digital certificate is the mechanism to protect your digital signature and notary eSeal. 


How does Remote Online Notarization Work? 

Here are the basic steps involved in a remote online notarization: 

  1. The RON provider or the notary receives a request for a notarization 
  2. The customer sends or uploads the documents to be signed and notarized 
  3. The customer completes the ID verification process approved by your state 
  4. The notary and customer join a video session
  5. The notary ensures the proper notarial wording and certificate is attached
  6. The notary administers the appropriate oral ceremony
  7. The customer signs 
  8. The notary applies their electronic seal 
  9. The notarization is recorded in a journal
  10. The video of the notarial act is saved 


Each state with RON laws may have other specific requirements, so notaries should read their state’s statutes carefully before completing their first remote notarization. 


Traditional Notarization vs. RON

The process to notarize documents remotely mimics the steps of a traditional notarial act, but there are some important differences. 

You’ll notice that the most important parts of a traditional notarial act are still present in a remote notarization. The notary must:

  • Meet with the signer
  • Verify the identity of the signer
  • Administer the appropriate oral statement for the associate notarial certificate
  • Record the notarization in their journal 


Some key differences for a remote online notarization include: How Does Remote Online Notarization Work?

  • The video recording – The most obvious difference is that the meeting is conducted over video instead of in person. The notarial act itself will be recorded and saved. Many see this as a positive since notaries accused of any fraudulent or improper behavior can leverage the recording to clear them of liability. For those with a vested interest in a business transaction, the recording serves as another witness to each party’s agreement. Mortgage lenders, for instance, have a stronger case against defaulters in foreclosure proceedings if the loan documents were signed and notarized remotely. 
  • How the signer’s identification is verified – The identity proofing or verification process may include scanning IDs to ensure they are real, passing a Knowledge-Based Authentication questionnaire, or a digital certificate. In some cases, signers may be required to show their ID during the video session. In some states, notaries are allowed to use personal knowledge and bypass KBA or ID scans. 
  • The wording of the notarial certificate – States with RON typically have updated wording to reflect the use of this new method. Notaries should familiarize themselves with the essential elements of a notarial certificate and ensure that the one attached or associated with the electronic document is correct. 

This content is provided for informational purposes only. PropLogix, LLC (PLX) is not a law firm; this content is not intended as legal advice and may not be relied upon as such. PLX makes no representations as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of this content. PLX may reference or incorporate information from third-party sources, upon which a citation or a website URL shall be provided for such source. PLX does not endorse any third party or its products or services. Any comments referencing or responding to this content may be removed in the sole discretion of PLX.

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Amanda Farrell

Amanda Farrell is a digital media strategist at PropLogix. She enjoys being a part of a team that gives peace of mind to consumers while making one of the biggest purchases of their lives. She lives in Sarasota with her bunny, Buster, and enjoys painting, playing guitar and mandolin, and yoga.