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Notary Bulletin

Rhode Island Secretary Of State Says Personal Appearance Via Webcam Is Not Permitted

Rhode Island has joined several other states in declaring that online webcam notarizations do not meet state law requiring signers to personally appear before a Notary, according to an alert posted on Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis’ Web site.

A. Ralph Mollis
A. Ralph Mollis

The alert states that “the person completing an acknowledgment or seeking other services from the Notary Public must ‘appear in person’ before the Notary Public. Other electronic means of appearance, such as web cam and Skype, do not comply with the requirements of state law.”

Earlier this month, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette issued a formal announcement saying that online Notarizations were invalid and illegal. And in February, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen issued a similar alert declaring online notarizations to be illegal in the Golden State. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in April published a newspaper article that described the importance of personal appearance in the notarial act.

The full text of the Rhode Island alert follows:

ALERT

Please be advised that pursuant to state law, all Notary Publics authorized to by his Excellency the Governor, may exercise said powers "within this state". An individual completing an acknowledgment must do so "before" a person authorized to take acknowledgments under Rhode Island law, including Notaries Public. The Governor of the State of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Secretary of State have further set forth, by Executive Order, the requirement that the person completing an acknowledgment or seeking other services from the Notary Public must "appear in person" before the Notary Public. Other electronic means of appearance, such as web cam and Skype, do not comply with the requirements of state law and the Executive Order.

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