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Law

VA House Bill 2064

Notary Law Update: VA House Bill 2064

State: Virginia

Summary:

House Bill 2064 now authorizes a credible witness to identify a remote signer for a remote online notarization (RON) or requires two forms of “identity proofing.” It also requires new information to be included in the notarial certificate for a RON.

Signed:  March 11, 2021

Effective:  March 11, 2021

Chapter: 78

Affects:
Amends Sections 47.1-2 and 47.1-16 of the Code of Virginia.

Changes:
  1. Defines “credential analysis,” “identity proofing,” and “remote online notarization.”
  2. Modifies the identification requirements for remote online notarization by requiring the Notary to have (a) personal knowledge of the principal, (b) the oath or affirmation of a credible witness, or (c) at least two of the following: (i) credential analysis of an unexpired government-issued identification bearing a photograph of the principal's face and signature, (ii) identity proofing by an antecedent in-person identity proofing process in accordance with the specifications of the Federal Bridge Certification Authority, (iii) another identity proofing method authorized in guidance documents, regulations, or standards adopted pursuant to COV 2.2-436, or (iv) a valid digital certificate accessed by biometric data or by use of an interoperable Personal Identity Verification card.
  3. Requires a notarial certificate for a remote online notarization to include the county in Virginia where the electronic Notary was physically located at the time of the notarial act.
  4. Requires a notarial certificate for a remote online notarization to include a statement whether the notarization was done in person or by remote online notarization.
  5. Makes technical changes.
Analysis:

In 2012, Virginia was the first state to enact and implement remote online notarization. It was the state that started the most significant legislative trend in the history of the U.S. Notary Public office. Twenty-nine states have followed Virginia’s lead. In the intervening years, voices in the Notary community criticized Virginia’s RON statute for being weak on identification and not requiring a notarial certificate for a RON to explicitly state that a RON was performed. At the time Virginia enacted its bill, technologists were starting to figure out how to verify the identity of remotely located individuals. Virginia law only allowed a Notary to use personal knowledge, a digital certificate accessed by biometric data that complied with the prevalent federal standard, or an antecedent in-person identity proofing process in accordance with the specifications of the Federal Bridge Certification Authority. States that followed Virginia in enacting RON moved to a different set of methods to identify individuals remotely, including “credential analysis” of a government-issued identification document such as a passport or driver’s license. House Bill 2064 now brings its methods of identification in line with other states by allowing a credible witness to identify a remote signer or requiring two forms of “identity proofing.” In another change, the notarial certificate for a RON now must indicate the name of the city or county in Virginia where the electronic Notary was located when they performed the RON and a statement indicating either that the notarial act was performed in person or by a RON.

Read the bill text.

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