Remote Notarization

Okay - here I go again! Thus some background to be fair - having a DoD Security Training Certificate and having had worked in the contractor defense security industry realm… I have issues with “remote notarizations” and the liability it places on the notary public responsibility.

Thus, I this discussion is open to opinions and discussion:

“eNotarization” is where the Notary Public goes to the borrowers “home” with a tablet, laptop, etc. and generates a journal entry - whether electronic and/or paper - and the borrower signs on the Notary Public computer, and the stored “notary certificate” is signed and sealed electronically. However, the Notary Public is present with the borrowers, able to actually authenticate the identifications and insure the person is who they say the are. The Notary has control as he/she must login to a secure site to obtain the documents.

“Remote Notarization” is where you have a camera on your computer, etc., and you are viewing the borrowers remotely through a webcam. Therefore, you are verifying their identity via camera - and viewing their identification remotely (not actually touch-and-feel to insure it is not fake. (Which currently in many states - remote notarization is unlawful.)

Other considerations as to the future of signing agents:

If this becomes the norm - then title companies will no longer need our services, as they can do the closing in their offices through remote notarization.

Also, currently as Notaries - we are the first line of defense for “fraud” - and we are held to that responsibility. Viewing an identification through a webcam - how authenticate is that.

I could go on and on - but I would enjoy some feed back and commentaries.

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I think DH Smith’s basic point is that viewing the signer and the identification documents through a web cam is less secure than meeting the signer in person, and I agree. I also think the in-person meeting helps prevent fraud by signalling to the signer that this is an important matter. When there is no in-person meeting it’s easy to become blasé about it and whip through it with little thought, like one of those agreements you click every time you download something.

I hope when DH Smith discusses this in the future she fine-tunes the terminology a bit. Rather than saying enotarization and remote notarization are different, I would say there are four cases.

  1. In-the-same-room notarization of a paper document, as it has been for centuries
  2. In-the-same-room notarization of an electronic document
  3. Remote notarization of an electronic document
  4. Remote acknowledgement of a paper document. (For example, boss works late, secretary has gone home. Writes and signs document, puts doc on secretary 's desk, and goes on vacation. Skypes with secretary the next day to acknowledge the document.)

It was a good catch by DH Smith that the enotary might be using either a paper or electronic journal; lots of writers just assume the journal would have to be electronic.

There are many possible variations on the technology for an in-the-same-room enotarization. Signer and notary might use the signer’s computer, the notary’s computer, or the signer might sign on her computer and transmit the doc to the notary’s computer for the notary to do his part. There might be a web site involved, and there might not.

Thank you very much for your clarification, it is noted. If anyone would like more clarification as to the changes coming down the pipeline, I have found the following two articles very informative for a better understanding of pros vs. cons. Currently Virginia, Montana, Ohio, Texas, and Ohio have passed legislation for “Webcam Notarization”:

NNA “pdf” format - WHAT BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT eNOTARIZATION - technology, trends, and webcams -


Here in AZ, electronic notary applications are not available, but in the works. However, we can perform electronic signatures, but any notarization must be “wet signatures” (as described by the industry). Also, following the upcoming requirements, and thoughts of our state legislature, using a electronic notary - as a notary you will need to keep a paper journal and electronic.

Thanks again, Gerard.
Diana Smith

I totally agree with you on this. What is the point of even notarizing a document if not in person. So many avenues for fraud, but i guess it will take a few years for them to figure it out. It is bad enough that there are sp many states that dont require journals, training, backround checks, etc.

So, my problem with all of this is that since we can technically get squeezed out of our jobs, or at best, get paid even less for the work we do in the future under the enotary situations described, where is the NNA in standing up for us? I’ve never felt the NNA really represented the notaries as much as they are just a big money making venue yearning for political power. But, that is just MOHO!

Virginia was the first state to accept electronic notarizations. I am not an electronic notary but have considered pursuing it. Virginia is pretty strict about how this has to be done. For a remote transaction to take place, the person has to be verified on their identiy the same way someone would verify their bank identity when going online. The notary has to have a number of security features in place on the computer being used for the notarization. And, at this point, I am pretty sure it is only to be used when an Acknowledgement is needed. A Jurat still requires personal appearance before the notary. So, unless the lender and title companies set up everything to be notarized with an Acknolwdgement, it isn’t likely they will be going full-blown electric notarizing. This would also mean these kind of transactions would not be valid in states where the remote notarization has not been made law. If there are any electronic notaries out there on the forums, perhaps they could add more clarification.

I don’t think Virginia was the first state to permit enotarization, just the first state to allow remote enotarization.

I know that some states that have passed laws allowing remote enotarization are not allowing anything but acknowledgements, but I don’t think VA is one of those states.

There is a big difference between how a state requires its own notaries to do things, and what it will accept in a notarization performed in another state. Just because a state doesn’t let its own notaries do remote enotarizations doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t accept remote enotarizations performed in VA.

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I found this pdf from Fannie Mae from April, 2017 that might shed some light on where things are now related to eNotes & eMortgages, since this is not just an eNotary or RemoteNotary matter, but just part of a bigger picture. There are some good resource links in the pdf too. Just get ready because this process is coming:

Thanks for posting the FNMA enotarization link. I proposed something recently for the benefit of NR forum users, but you can guess how that went :sweat:

Getting the terminology and the context correct is important so we don’t give out misleading info; there is also no way to understand all of the various e-notary laws. As stated earlier, VA is NOT the 1st to allow electronic notarization - and I have not come across anything stating WHICH ACTS are prohibited under VA’s electronic standard which does permit Remote signer notarization.

The major point of dissension is what is considered “personal appearance” in the face of current (advancing) technology (which is also used in some court systems); a Live video & audio feed where signers and notaries see and talk to one another is part of the rigorous standard here, but clearly some States aren’t going for it - only allowing IN-PERSON e-(electronic) notarization as of now.

Electronic signatures in general can be accommodated through a Title company (no biggie if you have access to their equipment). Not sure all TCs will head aboard the completely electronic/Remote (pajama) closing Ship! And even if owners, buyers & sellers have their way, there are still an equal number of folk that won’t touch the eTechnology transaction with an 8’ pole!

This press release out 1/11/2018-Westcor (National Title Underwriter) partnering with Notarize for online closings in 16 states (more to come in 2018).

Here’s the link:

This is just the beginning. Other underwriters will follow and the traditional mobile notary business as we know it will change significantly.

It will not be long before First Am’s & Fidelity embrace this. Since those 2 control the major share of closings nationwide (especially in the metro areas of the country), we will likely see a big downturn in the need for mobile notaries for this type transaction (i.e. real estate closings-purchases, refi’s, HELOC’s, etc.)

Based on Notarize’s website, they employ Virginia notaries and train them to work full or part time to notarize online in any state where a remote notary is allowed.

Hi, I really don’t like any kind of notarization thru a web cam or skype, I prefer physical in front of the person. I’m in Florida State, and I’m not sure if the state finally approved.

My other concern is, how we as NSA can have our journal signed and fingerprint entries if we use a webcam? Otherwise we will not have any records of our closings;. also, how we will use the stamp? I’m very afraid to have my stamp digital saved in my computer.

How much will be the fee, if titles co, will not pay us travel time, neither print? same or more responsibility and more risk. I think this is a very bad idea.