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Law

MD Guidance on Remote Notarizations (4/10/20)

Notary Law Update: MD Guidance on Remote Notarizations (4/10/20)

State: Maryland

Summary:

The Maryland Secretary of State issued revised guidance on remote notarizations that are allowed during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Signed:  April 11, 2020

Effective:  April 11, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Maryland Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. No longer prohibits the use of all videoconferencing technologies to perform remote notarizations.
  2. Recommends that if Notaries select a communications technology vendor for performing remote notarizations that is primarily designed for video-conferencing, it is the Notary's responsibility to make sure that all of the communications features are secured.
  3. Clarifies that Zoom cannot be used as a video-conferencing technology because of security concerns.
  4. Provides that if a Notary uses a communication technology platform primarily designed for video-conferencing, the vendor must be a United States company that has been lawfully operating in the United States for at least three years.
  5. Requires a video-conferencing platform used to perform remote notarizations to permit the Notary to meet all of the requirements in the Governor’s Order, including but not limited to the following: (a) The Notary must ensure the audio-visual communication used to witness the signing of the document is recorded and retained; (b) After signing the document, the signer must immediately transmit the signed document to the Notary; (c) Upon receiving the document, the Notary must immediately complete the notarization, indicating on the certificate of the notarial act and in a journal that the individual was not in the physical presence of the Notary and the notarial act was performed using a communication technology; and (d) Upon completing the notarization, the Notary must immediately transmit the notarized document back to the signer.
  6. Lists video-conferencing platforms not specifically designed for remote notarizations that Notaries may choose to consider.
Analysis:

The Maryland Secretary of State issued revised guidance on remote notarizations that are allowed during the COVID-19 state of emergency. In the March 30, 2020, guidance provided to Notaries, the Secretary of State said Notaries must use a communications technology vendor designed for the purpose of facilitating remote notarizations and that provides the ability to both see and hear a remotely located individual, as opposed to services that primarily offer video-conferencing ability, and further clarified that Skype or FaceTime do not meet the technology requirements. With this April 10, 2020, guidance, the Secretary of State clarifies that certain video-conferencing programs may be used provided they meet certain requirements. Zoom is not allowed due to security concerns. The new guidance lists several video-conferencing technologies that could be used. Why did the Secretary allow these technologies to be used? The executive order did not disallow such technologies and in fact, the definition of "communication technology" was broad enough to allow them. Another reason for the change is that most of the dedicated remote online notarization platforms in use have been stretched to capacity by many states' governors issuing orders to allow remote notarizations.

To read the new guidance, click Download PDF below.

Note: this guidance was revised on April 21, 2020.

Download PDF

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