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How to Become a Remote Online Notary in Michigan

As of September 26, 2018, Michigan Notaries may register to perform remote online notarizations (RONs). Becoming a remote or electronic Notary in Michigan requires three steps:

  1. Hold an active commission as a traditional Notary Public.
  2. Select and buy an electronic/remote notarization system from the Secretary of State’s approved vendor list.
  3. Provide the MI SOS’s office with the contact information of your chosen system vendor(s) by completing a Request for Duplicate/Notice of Change form.

In This Guide: Michigan RON Requirements | About RON in Michigan | Additional FAQs

Requirements to be a Remote Notary in Michigan

Before you can provide remote or electronic Notary services in the Wolverine State, you must first have an existing commission as a traditional Notary. Traditional Notaries must be at least 18 years old, be a legal resident of Michigan or maintain a place of business in the state, be a U.S. citizen or have proof of legal residence, read and write the English language, and have no felony convictions within the last 10 years. Additionally, MI Notaries must not have been convicted of two or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of the Michigan Notary Public Act within 12 months or three or more misdemeanor offenses of this Act within a 5-year period.

Once you’ve been commissioned as a traditional Notary, you must complete a Request for Duplicate/Notice of Change form to indicate which RON technology platform(s) you have purchased, and then submit the form to the MI Secretary of State’s office. This information must be on file with the SOS office before you can begin performing notarial acts electronically or remotely as appropriate.

Is training or an exam required for MI online Notaries?

No, Michigan does not require a training course or exam to apply for your remote online Notary authorization.

Vendors of the necessary electronic and remote notarization platforms will provide training and other relevant information for using their systems. While the Secretary of State has no role in this technology training, it does provide free Notary Public education on the duties, responsibilities and role of a Notary. This includes information about traditional pen and paper notarial acts, e-notarizations and remote notarizations.

What tools and technology do I need to perform remote notarizations?

You’ll need to select and buy an electronic notarization system or platform from the MI Secretary of State’s approved vendor list. You may select and register with more than one RON vendor if you wish. If you choose multiple RON systems, you’ll want to make sure that your eSeal, digital certificate and Notary journal are compatible with all of them. In Michigan, remote Notaries are required to keep one journal at a time. It can be paper or digital, but it must meet specific security requirements.

Remote Notaries also need a computer, webcam, microphone and a secure internet connection. Your computer should support two-way audio and visual communication in order to provide virtual notarization services.

Do I need another surety bond?

Michigan requires all traditional Notaries to hold a 6-year, $10,000 surety bond. No additional bond is required to offer remote or electronic notarizations, but the Secretary of State recommends that Notaries contact their bonding company to verify whether their existing bond covers these additional notarial services or if a change is needed to their bond.

Why should I get an E&O insurance policy?

Unlike a surety bond, an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy protects you as a Notary Public. If any mishaps occur during a notarization, E&O insurance can cover you.

About Remote Online Notarization (RON) in Michigan

For those who may be unfamiliar with remote online notarization, here is some important information to help you understand what RON is and how it works in the state of Michigan.

Does Michigan allow remote notarization?

Yes, as of September 26, 2018, Michigan became the ninth state to legalize remote notarization. Traditional MI Notaries may now apply for authorization to perform electronic notarial acts, remote online notarizations or both.

How do remote online notarizations work in Michigan?

In remote online notarizations, the signer appears before the Notary in real-time using audio-video technology. First, the signer logs onto a RON technology platform where they must successfully complete a dynamic knowledge-based authentication (KBA) questionnaire and their ID must be verified through credential analysis. Once the signer’s identity has been verified by the third-party system, they meet the Notary on camera.

The Notary will also inspect the ID card, front and back, as a third layer of identity proofing. Then, the Notary will ask a series of questions to confirm the signer is aware of what they are signing and are willing to proceed. Next, the Notary checks the documents for any blank spaces that would need to be filled in by the signer. Then, they’ll attach their official electronic Notary seal and a digital certificate containing their electronic signature. Once the notarization is complete, the Notary fills out their journal and saves an audio-visual recording of the transaction.

MI remote Notaries may perform RON services for signers in any location—inside or outside of the state—as long as the Notaries themselves are physically located in Michigan at the time of notarization.

What notarial acts can be performed virtually?

Michigan Notaries authorized to provide electronic or remote services may perform the following notarial acts:

  • Taking acknowledgments
  • Administering oaths and affirmations
  • Witnessing or attesting to a signature

What is the difference between electronic and remote notarizations?

The biggest difference between electronic notarizations (also called eNotarization) and remote notarizations is the signer’s location during the notarial act. With eNotarization, a signer must be in the physical presence of the Notary Public--just as with traditional pen and paper notarizations. In this case, however, the documents are digital and they are signed using electronic signatures.

With remote notarizations, the signer is not in the physical presence of the Notary. Instead, they are present in real-time through audio-visual technology like a webcam. Electronic signatures are used to complete this process as well.

Michigan allows commissioned Notaries to perform electronic and remote online notarizations, as long as both authorizations are on file with the Secretary of State along with the necessary technology vendor information.

How long does a remote notarization take versus traditional notarization?

Remote notarizations take less time than traditional notarizations because they don’t require the signer or the Notary to meet in person, which eliminates travel time. Depending on the RON technology company you choose, you may be able to receive and complete a notarization request within a few minutes.

Additional RON FAQs

Looking for more information about online Notary services? Here are answers to commonly-asked questions regarding RON in the state of Michigan.

How much does it cost to register as a remote Notary?

There is no additional fee required by the MI Secretary of State to request authorization as a remote or electronic Notary. The initial Notary Public fee covers these enhancements. However, there are technology and supply costs to consider, which will vary depending on the vendors you choose. For instance, you will be responsible for any sign-up fees associated with your preferred RON technology provider and the cost of your digital supplies like the eSeal and digital certificate.

The cost to hold your initial $10,000 surety bond may or may not change. The Secretary of State’s Office recommends checking with your surety bond company to make sure electronic and remote notarizations are covered. If you have an E&O insurance policy you may want to check your policy details too.

You may already have a computer, webcam, microphone and secure internet access set up at home, but if you don’t, you will need to factor these items into your startup costs.

How much can MI Notaries charge for remote online notarizations?

You may charge $10 per notarial act, regardless of the method, according to the Michigan Secretary of State.

In the case of electronic notarizations, travel fees can be charged if travel is required to meet the signer. Fees must be agreed to by all parties in advance.

How long does it take to become a virtual Notary in Michigan?

If you’re already a Notary, it may only take a week or two. It depends on how many RON providers you research before choosing which one(s) you want to use. Notifying the Secretary of State’s Office can be done quickly, but you may want to give them some time to get your notice on file before taking on your first electronic or remote notarization assignment.

If you aren’t a currently commissioned Michigan Notary, the whole process could take 8 to 10 weeks. After you receive your commission as a traditional Notary Public, you will need to complete and submit your Duplicate/Notice of Change form.

How long will my remote Notary commission last?

Adding electronic or remote status to your MI Notary commission does not change your commission expiration date. When your traditional 6-year commission expires, you will not be able to perform any type of notarial act unless you renew your traditional Notary commission and status to perform remote notarizations.

Will RON services grow my Notary business?

Yes. Becoming a remote online Notary and joining a RON platform can help your business grow because your customer base is no longer limited to in-person assignments. In fact, it’s not even limited to in-state signers. As a virtual Notary, you can provide notarial services to signers located outside of Michigan. Just remember that you, as the Notary, must be physically in your commissioning state when conducting the notarization.

Getting certified as a Notary Signing Agent (NSA) can help you earn additional RON assignments, expanding your business even farther. Combined with a remote Notary authorization, NSA certification makes you eligible to receive inquiries for online loan signings. Being an NSA also ensures RON technology vendors that you have passed a current background screening.

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