It’s probable that many of us have some experience with notaries from needing a commissioned expert to notarize a document for various types of legal papers.
Popular notarized documents include:
- Closing documents
- A power of attorney
- Real estate contracts
- Insurance documents
- Medical documents
Notaries have been around for thousands of years, and the profession has changed little since its start. However, a little more than a decade ago, new laws took effect, allowing electronic notarization of documents.
The first states to pass specific laws regarding e-notaries include North Carolina and Florida. These laws allowed one to notarize documents electronically – not to be confused with remote notarizations, where, just like a paper-based notarization, both the participant and the notary have to be physically present when they electronically notarize the document.
Fast forward to 2012, and the state of Virginia went a step further. It not only allowed electronic notarizations, but also allowed commissioned notaries to do the entire notarial act via a webcam, without the parties needing to be physically present.
This webcam online notary, or remote notary, is when the notary is in one location and the participant is in another. The state categorizes a webcam-based procedure as remote, so long as it meets the state’s requirements and guidelines for a remotely based notarial act. This can include identity verification via knowledge-based authentication (KBA) and some forms of ID credential analysis.
Since Virginia's step forward, many other states followed, enacting attempts at their own e-notary and remote notary laws. The list of states includes:
Why notaries are in high demand
As the popularity and business needs for both electronic notarizations and remote notarizations grow exponentially, so does the need for commissioned notaries who can perform these types of notarial acts.
At DocVerify, we have seen the need for remote notaries across many industries. Real estate, among other sectors, such as legal, medical, insurance, and finance, benefit greatly from electronic and remote notarial services, and many of these sectors are quickly realizing the benefits of it.
How remote notary works
Say you’re a medical practice, and you need to have your doctors sign documents that require notarization. Today, those doctors would probably have to find a notary, get notarization, place it in an envelope, and then send it to the medical practice.
However, what if there was an easier way? What if the practice could have one of its own notaries contact each doctor via webcam, and notarize the documents remotely? Think about how much time and money that would save.
How software can help
As for notaries, there are standalone e-notary platform providers that make it easy for users to sign up and quickly establish notary businesses.
Companies that have access to their own notarial services can also benefit from these standalone e-notary platform providers.
Additionally, some providers may also have application programming interface (APIs), widgets, or web hooks that allow electronic or remote notarizations within clients’ custom applications, portals, or websites.
New laws have opened the door to remote notary call center services, but these aren’t beneficial to notaries who want to make a decent living or companies that want to use their own notaries. Call centers usually have their own notaries, who they pay only a fraction of what they collect.
Remote notarial process
So, how does the remote or online notarial procedure work? Almost all the states that implemented, or will soon be implementing, remote notary laws have similar requirements and guidelines. Even though the overall laws may vary from state to state, the core concepts are similar.
When someone wants to notarize a document remotely, they first need to verify their identity using KBA, as required by states. The states have strict guidelines when it comes to KBA, which require participants to answer a certain number of questions correctly within a specific amount of time. If the participants fail, they usually get another chance to try again with a 24-hour period. Once the participants pass, they will then be able to connect with the notary via webcam. In these situations, the notary has to record the notarial act and save that recording for a certain period.
The real estate industry has a lot to gain from electronic and remote notarizations – it makes it possible to have a complete end-to-end electronic closing (who doesn't want that?).
However, the real estate industry only accounts for about half of all the notarizations in the U.S., and it's important to remember that the other half can benefit from it as well.