Remote Online Notarization (also referred to as 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. A remote online notarization can only be conducted by a legally commissioned Notary public who has been authorized to perform notarizations online using digital tools and a live audio-video call.
Difference between Electronic Notarization and Remote Online Notarization
Most people tend to use the terms e-notarization and remote online notarization interchangeably. However, you need to know that the two are not the same. Electronic notarizations (also known as e-notarizations) are conducted in person, whereas remote online notarizations are conducted via the internet, using audio-visual technology. Although both form of notarizations involves notarizations of electronic documents, for e-notarization, the signer is physically present with the Notary while for remote online notarization, the signer is not in the physical presence of the Notary. That is, the two of them are in different locations.
Benefits of Remote Online Notarization
The need for remote online notarization has grown tremendously this year, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep up with the “stay at home” order and still get relevant documents signed, most businesses and individuals turned to remote online notarization.
Remote online notarization affords freedom and flexibility. It does not require the signer to meet with the Notary in person. Hence, it takes away the need for traveling or leaving your home. This makes the notarization process of RON faster than that of traditional notarizations. Note however that how quick you can receive a notarization request and complete the document depends on the online notarization company you choose.
Another benefit of remote online notarization is the fact that it reduces errors in documents during a loan document signing. Sometimes, a mistake or missed signature on paper loan documents can go unnoticed until after the signing is complete. However, with RON, any required information that is incorrectly entered or accidentally left blank will be easily discovered. This is because the notarization process will not be completed by the system until all errors have been corrected.
How Safe is Remote Online Notarization
One of the fears people have about remote online notarization is security.
Companies offering remote online notarizations use a method known as KBA (knowledge-based authentication) to verify the identity of signers. John M. Holder | RON University
Using this method, individuals are asked a series of questions about their backgrounds. Fears associated with RON are due to possible data breaches of sources used by KBA systems. However, the possibility of a data breach is very slim as most remote online notarization companies ensure that documents with digital-encryption and dual-factor authentication are protected. So, we can conclude that RON is very safe.
States That Allow Remote Online Notarization
In 2011, Virginia became the first state to authorize remote online notarization. Since then, many states have followed suit. Currently, there are about 28 states that have passed some form of remote online notarization law. Some of these states enacted permanent RON laws while others enacted temporary RON laws.
States with permanent RON laws include: Alaska, Florida, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
States with temporary RON includes: Alabama, Colorado, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Illinois, Maine, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming.
How a Remote Online Notarization Takes Place
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 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. An electronic signature is used in place of the signer’s wet ink signature and the physical stamp and handwritten signature of the Notary is replaced by an electronic seal and digital certificate, respectively.
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. The completed and signed document is then emailed to the signer.
How to Prepare for Remote Notarization
You need to first find out the requirements of your state as you prepare for a remote online notarization. To find out your state's requirements, you can visit the website of your secretary of state or check the National Notary Association’s (NNA’s) Law database for updated Notary laws and regulations in your state.
How You Can Become a Remote Online Notary
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 Notary is a must before you can offer RON services and to become a traditional Notary, you must meet your state's qualifications. Requirements by states in becoming a traditional Notary differ, but common to most of them are:
- Being at least 18 years old
- Being a legal resident of the state
- Having no felony convictions
If you want to work as a remote Notary, it is advisable for you to first check your state's RON laws. Then come back here and we'll be glad to help you get started! RON University (“RONU”) offers valuable insights on how you can become a remote online notary and set up for remote online notarization.