The question of how to perform a remote online notarization (RON) is one that runs through the minds of many people. Maybe you're familiar with the word remote online notarization, but you're not sure exactly how it works.
We put together this post to answer the basic question – how does a remote online notarization work? Before we give a step-by-step description of the RON process, let's first lay the groundwork and give you a clear definition of remote online notarization.
What is Remote Online Notarization?
Remote Online Notarization (also known by the acronym “RON”) is the act of carrying out a notarization remotely through the use of a two-way audio-video technology. In most cases, this two-way audio-video technology is a webcam. Unlike the traditional notarization which involves in-person closing and paperwork, remote online notarization is performed on the web without the paperwork.
You're going to see and hear the term “RON” quite frequently around the RONU campus. Perhaps the main thing to keep in mind is that we're not talking about a person! As much as one of my good friends think I started a course so people could learn to be just like him, this is certainly not the case. All we're talking about is a type of notarization performed online.
Who Can Perform a Remote Online Notarization?
Not just anybody can perform a remote online notarization. Similar to driving a vehicle, you need to get your license first before you hit the open road.
A remote online notarization can only be conducted by a legally commissioned notary public who has been authorized to perform notarizations online using digital technology and a live audio-video call. These legally commissioned notaries who are authorized to perform notarizations online are called remote online notaries, remote notaries, or online notaries.
Once you get used to the terminology, you may hear someone say they are a RON or they're going to perform a RON. What they're saying is that they are a remote online notary or that they are going to conduct a remote online notarization. So, just keep in mind the term RON can be used either way
Since the onset of COVID-19, remote online notarization is becoming more prevalent and accepted by states and businesses. The safety aspect that RON offers can no longer be ignored. This is important because remote online notaries can notarize documents at any time and from any location in their state by simply using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
How is Remote Online Notarization Different from Electronic Notarization?
Remote online notarization is often confused with electronic notarization, but these are two different animals. Although both forms of notarization involve notarizations of electronic documents, they are different in operation.
The major difference between remote online notarization and electronic notarization is the fact that for remote online notarization, the whole notarization process is done online, using audio-visual technology. However, for electronic notarization, the notarization process is done in person.
What this means is that for remote online notarization, the signer is not in the physical presence of the notary (they are in different locations). But for electronic notarization, both the signer and the notary are physically present in the same location.
How Can I Become a Remote Online Notary?
By now, you may be forming the idea that this sounds like an interesting topic. And we wholeheartedly agree with you! In order to become a remote online notary, there are several hoops you'll need to jump through first. Let's take a look at what all needs to happen in order for you to call yourself a RON.
The authorization process for you to become a remote online notary depends on your state's notary regulation laws. Before applying to become a remote online notary, some states require that you first hold a commission as a traditional notary public while some other states allow you to apply for notary commission the same time you are applying for authorization to perform virtual notarizations.
Being a commissioned/traditional notary is a must before you can offer RON services. Just like it is for babies, RONs have to learn how to crawl before they can walk and run. To become a traditional notary, you must meet your state's qualifications.
Each state's application to become a traditional notary is different, but the most common requirements are:
- being at least 18 years old,
- being a legal resident of the state and
- having no felony convictions.
For most states, the steps to becoming a remote online notary are:
1. Meeting the state’s qualifications to become a traditional notary.
2. Registering or applying to perform virtual notarizations.
3. Paying the state’s application fees.
4. Completing any test or training courses required by the state.
5. Getting your remote online notary tools and technology. Examples of tools and technology needed by a notary to perform RON services include: access to a computer with webcam and microphone, secure internet connection and in some states, electronic signature, electronic seal, electronic journal, and a digital certificate.
6. Choosing a RON vendor or platform approved by your state. RON vendors include: DocVerify, Pavaso, NotaryCam, Notarize, SIGNiX, Safedocs etc.
7. Having a surety bond that will cover remote online notarizations.
8. Buying an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy that covers remote online notarizations.
9. Submitting other documents that may be required by your state’s laws.
The steps above may be different for some states. So, it is advisable that you first check your state’s RON laws before applying to work as a remote notary. Or you could just enroll in RONU, where we break each of these steps do wn and help you with each and every step on your RON path to success!
What Types of Documents Must Be Notarized?
A good number of documents must first be notarized before they can become legal. Examples of documents that must be notarized include: trust, estates, commercial loan documents, powers of attorney, last will, etc.
How Can I Work as a Remote Online Notary?
There are two ways in which you can work as a remote online notary: as an independent contractor and as an employee for a RON vendor or provider. RON vendors like Notarize and NotaryCam employs commissioned notaries to work on their platform as remote online notaries. Vendors like DocVerify and SIGNiX allows notaries to work as independent contractors. As an online notary working as an independent contractor, you have control over the price you want to bill for a notarization session. However, you may need to look for signers yourself. On the other hand, working as an employee under a RON provider means that the provider will be the one to assign signers to you and also negotiate a price with the signer. You will get your payments from the provider based on their terms of agreement with you.
How a Remote Online Notarization Works
The process of remote online notarization is similar to traditional notarizations; the major difference being that for remote online notarizations, there is no physical meeting between the signer and the notary. The meeting between the signer and the notary is held online using audio-video technology. Verification of the signer's identity by the notary is done using traditional identity proofing methods in addition to knowledge-based authentication (KBA) and credential analysis.
Like a traditional notary, an online notary does not only verify the signer's identity. He or she also ensures that the signer understands the document and is willing to sign it. Once the signer's identity has been verified, the online notary completes the notarization with the attachment of an electronic seal and a digital certificate.
A step-step description of a RON process is given below.
1. Signer contacts a RON service provider or online notary to request a remote online notarization.
2. Signer’s electronic document is uploaded to the RON or online technology platform used to perform notarization.
3. The signer and the notary communicate online using audiovisual technology like webcam. They do not meet in person.
4. Signer's identity is screened and verified according to the requirements of the notary's commissioning state. Validation of the signer’s identity may be done by:
- Knowledge-based authentication (KBA). KBA involves asking the signer question based on their personal history, credit, and financial information.
- Credential analysis. Credential analysis involves verification of the information on the ID submitted by the signer.
- Remote viewing of the signer’s ID by the notary during the notarization.
5. After the successful verification of the signer’s identity, the signer and the notary sign the electronic document using an electronic signature and the notary attaches an electronic seal and digital certificate.
6. An audio and video recording of the notarization session is retained by the notary. The notary also records any required information in his or her electronic journal.
7. The notarized document is sent back to the signer via email.
Please note that the procedures for carrying out a remote online notarization may vary depending on a state's laws. The above procedure is a generalized description of how it takes place. Also note that it is not all states that permit notaries to perform RON. Some states recently passed temporary RON measures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the procedures for carrying out RON in these states differ significantly from the one described above.