BARRISTER'S BRIEFING: Updates on Remote and Electronic Notarization

Leon Cameron, Esq. | December 2018

As we all know, new technologies are rapidly changing the way that real estate business is conducted. Remote online notarization is a tool that is modernizing the sales transaction and allowing for increased flexibility when it comes to closings.

When implemented with appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy and security of consumers, online notarization results in a more accessible, streamlined and verifiable way to have critical transactions notarized. Online notarization preserves the traditional assurances of integrity provided by a notary along with the added benefits of better fraud detection.

With remote notarization, a signer personally appears before the Notary at the time of the notarization using audio-visual technology over the Internet instead of being physically present in the same room. Remote notarization is also called webcam notarization or online notarization.

Many people confuse electronic notarization with remote notarization, believing they are the same. They are not. Electronic notarization, or eNotarization, involves documents that are notarized in electronic form, and the Notary and document signer sign with an electronic signature. However, all other elements of a traditional, paper notarization apply to electronic notarization, including the requirement for the signer to physically appear before the Notary.

Today, only Notaries in two states are able to perform remote notarizations: Virginia and Montana. Virginia in 2011 became the first state to enact a law allowing its duly commissioned electronic Notaries to perform remote notarizations. In 2015, Montana became the second state to allow the practice, but with a number of restrictions. For the most part, remote notarizations are restricted to documents involving Montana residents and certain in-state transactions. Montana also is the only state that allows a paper document to be notarized when the signer and Notary appear online.

Each state that authorizes remote notarizations may establish its own technology standards and requirements. At the present time, the New York Notary Public Law does not allow for either remote or electronic notarization. If and when that should change, HGAR will keep you updated.

Editor’s Note: The foregoing is for information purposes only and does not confer an attorney/client relationship. For a legal opinion or advice specific to your situation, please consult with a private attorney at law.

Leon Cameron, Esq.
Leon Cameron, Esq., is Director of Legal Services & Professional Standards Administrator for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.