Notarization is a fraud deterrent measure. It ensures that a document is authentic and can be trusted. It also verifies the parties’ identity. This means that you can’t later claim that you didn’t, or another person acted in your place once you sign. Simply put, the notarization process entails vetting, certifying, and record-keeping, processes carried out by a notary public.
Traditionally, notarization required the notary public and the signer to be in the same place. With the ever-evolving technology, this is quickly shifting. Remote engagements are taking the center stage. Moreover, with the Covid-19 global pandemic, regulatory authorities saw the need to revise some aspects to facilitate continuity.
The stay-at-home regulations were necessary to hinder the virus’s spread. Nonetheless, they presented a significant challenge. How could you get documents notarized without physical contact? This accelerated the remote online notarization. Some states legalized the approach temporarily, and others made it permanent.
Remote online notarization entails the use of audio-visual technology rather than an in-person process. You connect and communicate with the notary public through virtual space to facilitate documents and identity verification. You then use an electronic signature to complete the notarization.
Remote online notarization (RON) is sometimes confused for electronic notarization. The primary distinction is how the processes are handled. With electronic notarization/eNotarization, the notary public and the signer must be in the same room. Nonetheless, the process doesn’t rely on paper, pen, and rubber stamps. It uses electronic documents and signatures, much like in RON.
Common RON steps
- Contact: You contact the notary public and request online notarization. Most online notaries are available 24/7 since they don’t have to commute. Such efficiency lowers the costs while fast-tracking the process.
- Send document: Sending the documents usually involves uploading electronic documents like PDFs to the notary public’s technology platform.
- Identity verification: The notary screens the signer following the notary commissioning state. This ascertains that you are who you claim to be. This requires audio-visual engagement as the screening typically involves answering questions. The notary does credential analysis to verify the provided identification documents.
- Signing: The notary has verified your identity and considered other notarization documents. Now, both parties need to sign. After signing, the notary attaches the notary seal. This makes the document legally binding. Electronic signatures and notary seals are usually used during the online notarization process. You then receive the notarized documents, concluding the process. After the process, the notary records the information in the Notary’s journal records. In the RON case, they retain audio and video recordings of the session.
RON is a simple, fast, and efficient process. While a buzzing topic, RON is not a new concept. Coronavirus is the propulsion that has led to the current popularity, but RON legalizations can be traced back to 2011. This was when the commonwealth of Virginia passed Senate Bill 827 and House Bill 2318, which legalized online notaries. Nonetheless, before you hop on the bandwagon, you need to consider a few factors, the top including:
Is RON legal in your state? More states are still operating on a temporary basis, while the period has expired in others. More states have made the approach legal in the long run, but don’t assume this includes your place. There are over 40 states that have enacted permanent laws legalizing RON. Establishing the legality ensures that you don’t waste your time and money only to learn that the documents aren’t legally binding.
Are you a first-timer? While relatively straightforward, notarization can be a confusing process for some. You might not know the documents you need for the process, among other concerns. In such instances, RON might be overwhelming. You can opt for remote service. This is where the notary public comes to your office or an agreed location. In such a setting, you are likely to have all the documents you need, making the session more productive. Once you get the hang of it, RON would be a great option since you know what you need.
RON’s popularity continues to hit new highs as more people realize the many benefits it offers. Since the notary public can serve more people, the economies of scale make it an affordable option. The process is safer since identity proofing, and credential analysis is strict. RON also improves your documents’ safety since electronic documents are safer than papers. The process is fast and convenient since you don’t have to take some time off your schedule to ensure you don’t miss the appointment.
The future is digital, an aspect that RON further emphasizes. Today, you can legally complete many transactions regardless of your location. This efficiency further accelerates reliance on technology. Remote online notarization utilizes virtual space for the notary public and the signer to connect and notarize documents, a faster and more efficient tech-driven process.