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eNotarization, Webcam Notarization, Online Closings And eClosings: What's The Difference?

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Updated 9-13-17. Ohio has become the latest state to authorize webcam notarization, closely following measures enacted in Texas and Nevada. They join Virginia, Montana and Florida as the only states to permit the practice in any form.

Between the Federal Housing Administration expanding its electronic signature program and more states adopting webcam notarization, the impact of technology on Notaries has become a hot topic in social media communities. But there also is a lot of confusion about electronic notarizations and webcam notarizations. Here are basic definitions of these terms to help clarify the differences between terms and processes.

Electronic Signatures
 

Any time you make a purchase with a credit card and are asked to sign a digital pad, or type your PIN to get money out of your bank’s ATM machine, you’re using an electronic signature or eSignature. Anytime you make a purchase on the internet and click the “submit order” button, you are electronically signing a purchase agreement. Electronic signatures have become commonplace in the retail world, and they also are becoming commonplace in larger transactions, such as making an offer on a home purchase. eSignatures can be made in a number of different ways, but they are considered as legally valid as a signature on a paper document (often called a “wet” signature).

Electronic Notarization
 

Electronic notarization, or eNotarization, is essentially the same as a paper notarization except the document being notarized is in digital form, and the Notary signs with an electronic signature. Depending upon state law, the information in the Notary’s seal may be placed on the electronic document as a graphic image or other available means. But all other elements of a traditional, paper notarization remain, including the requirement for the signer to physically appear before the Notary.

Webcam Notarization
 

Many people confuse eNotarization with webcam notarization, believing they are the same. They are not.

Webcam notarizations make use of video and audio technology on the internet to allow signers to personally appear before and communicate with the Notary at the time of the notarization. With traditional notarizations, the signer is in the Notary’s physical presence.

To date, only six states have enacted laws permitting the use of webcam technology for notarial acts.

In 2011, Virginia became the first. Montana followed suit in 2015. However, both states limit the circumstances under which webcam notarizations can be performed.

In 2015, Florida also authorized webcam notarizations, but limits the practice to certain law enforcement and correctional officers who are permitted to administer oaths and affirmations.

So far this year, Texas, Nevada and Ohio have passed laws authorizing online notarizations.

However a number of states — including California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin — have issued public statements that notarizations using online communication are prohibited and signers are still required to physically appear before Notaries.

eClosing
 

An eClosing or electronic closing is a mortgage closing in which all the documents remain in digital form. They are signed, notarized and returned to the title company or lender in digital form, and nothing is printed out. An eClosing can be conducted with the borrowers and Notary in each other’s physical presence or online using video-audio technology.

Online Closing
 

An online closing is an electronic closing that is conducted online without the borrower and Notary being in each other’s physical presence. The personal appearance requirement for the notarization is satisfied via the internet using webcam technology.

iClose
 

iClose is a web-based closing system offered by one settlement services provider. With this system, the borrower physically appears before a Notary to sign a limited power of attorney (LPOA) in paper form. The LPOA allows a representative of the title company or lender to sign the borrower’s mortgage documents. Typically, the borrower will then log onto the iClose system to review and approve the loan documents using an electronic signature. The title company or lender representative signs all paper documents in the closing package, including the Mortgage or Deed of Trust, and a title company or lender Notary notarizes the representative’s signature.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

31 Comments

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Concerned Notary

02 Apr 2015

What states are currently working on webcam Notarizations? And wouldn't this procedure greatly reduce the number of notaries needed? Therefore, reducing the overall notaries out there that need E&O, SA certifications, back grounds, and any other services that are normally required.

Kurt Gross

01 Feb 2016

If we could get the attorneys out of the way and apply common sense, then I think a workable solution is possible. For example a good starting point would be that a person could meet with a notary one time in person. Once this occurs that person and the Notary should be able to communicate via video from then forward. Other possibilities exist but right now I'm going to save my breath for audiences who actually can get things done. This public forum is a good start in that direction

Bernard R Stangel

01 Feb 2016

Thank you for the update. Wisconsin is a state that does not permit webcam notarizations based on your article.Does Wisconsin allow/recognize eNotarization? Thank you

National Notary Association

03 Feb 2016

Hello. No, The state of Wisconsin has not yet adopted statutes or regulations establishing rules, definitions or procedures for electronic notarization.

John McCoy

01 Feb 2016

RE: ID; I think a "sign by mark" certificate should be required by most signers. I cannot ID anyone who has a, similar to a chicken scratch, unreadable signature. I defy any person to ID a signature if it is also not printed.

dana@meridianleads.com

01 Feb 2016

Does the state of Pennsylvania use Webcam notarization or iclose for the witnessing of a will . The witness lives in Florida and the signed document is in Pennsylvania.

National Notary Association

03 Feb 2016

Hello. No, Pennsylvania does not authorize Notaries to conduct a notarization remotely with a signer remotely using a webcam or other audio/visual remote technology.

Susan Bagorazzi

08 Feb 2016

I have been a Mobile Notary in the state of Arizona for several years. I have never done an electronic signature notarization. Are there free workshops that show Notaries how these are done? I would like to learn as much as possible. AZ does not require testing to become a Notary, so it's up to the individual to obtain as much knowledge as possible on their own.

National Notary Association

09 Feb 2016

Hello Susan. I'm sorry, but the NNA does not currently have free eNotarization workshops available in Arizona. We do have a panel discussing eNotarization scheduled for our Conference in Anaheim, CA, June 5-8. You can find more information here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/conference/workshops/descriptions

Dave Id

18 Feb 2016

Hello there, 1) Do you have any links to the Public Statements from states that do not accept Webcam Notarization? I have a customer in Spain that wants to use Notarycam.com fir a document I need in CA. 2) Are Webcam notaries allowed to charge more that $10.00 per notarization? Looking at the Notarycam.com, it looks like they charge much more per notarization.

National Notary Association

19 Feb 2016

Hello. The announcement from the CA Secretary of State's regarding webcam notarizations can be found here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/customer-alert/ While California Notaries are not allowed to perform webcam notarizations, state law does say that notarizations performed in another state are acceptable in California as long as they meet the requirements of the laws of that state. As a practical matter, many agencies are not set up to receive electronically notarized documents. As to fees, you should always follow your state's laws regarding the maximum fees Notaries may charge for services, regardless of the type of notarial act performed.

k.hagan1976@outlook.com

16 May 2016

After i take the loan signing test if am not dealing with money is that all i need is that certificate?Am a bit confuss with the difference of an Loan Signing closer and Notary Signing Agent.Am in the State of Virginia am commission already.But i dont know if i want to do this or Remote Electronic am researching now to see what will benefit me best.

Unk

10 Jun 2016

I'm sorry, but I just see the advantage of e-notarization, if a signer HAS to be present before the Notary; he/she mine as well go down to the Notary Office....what the heck am I missing???

MUSHTAQ TAHIRKHELI

02 Jul 2016

We have to follow the State law. There are more crazy people in this world. We have to watch them..

Mary Watts

08 Aug 2016

I think this would be a idea to think about because you could get the documents and have all the documents at one time without leaving your computer.

Franklyn Cooke

22 Aug 2016

Has the possibility of U S uniform notary laws and regulations ever been discussed?

Franklyn Cooke

22 Aug 2016

Has the possibility of U. S. uniform notrary laws and regulations ever been discussed?

Jill Hancock

30 Jan 2017

I am planning a conference for the Recorders Association of Missouri and we are looking for a presenter on eNotarized documents as compared to out of state documents. Can you please refer me to someone that might be able to present on the topic?

National Notary Association

31 Jan 2017

Hi Jill. If you can please fill out the information about your event at the following page, we can see if there is a speaker available who meets your needs: https://www.nationalnotary.org/press-center/speakers-bureau

Asha umesh shetty

14 Mar 2017

I need some information about e-notarization *National reviews *International reviews *Future potential of the output *How did you identify this topic Please do help me As i need it for technical seminar.

Tina Merritt

10 May 2017

I love the iClose program; but I worry about the liability issue for the closing agent/notary who is given the LPOA. Need to check with our E&O about this - or is this only for attorneys?

Lori Sergent

26 Jun 2017

Has PA become one of the states that now allows webcam notarization? I noticed that SENATE BILL No.595 was amended on June 5, 2017 to include Audio-video communication. Would webcam be the case?

National Notary Association

29 Jun 2017

Hello. No, that bill has not been passed yet.

diana perez

15 Aug 2017

Does Florida will agree Notaries helping with Emigration documents?

John Bianca

18 Sep 2017

If my state went electronic notary service would there be any territory limitations. Or could the lender shop the whole state for low ball offers? I think this would easily cut the rural notary out of the picture unless they are willing to provide a service for little or nothing!

Peggy

21 Sep 2017

I'm in Texas & would also like to find a "how to" for eNotarization & webcam. Thanks

National Notary Association

21 Sep 2017

Hello. Please see this link for information on the Texas bill taking effect in July 2018: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2017/06/two-states-approve-webcam-notarization

Sheryl

23 Sep 2017

How can Notaries learn how to do these types of Closings? Will NNA be offering classes that will take us through a log in process, authentication, verifying ID's, and what constitutes the notary stamp? Also I do many rural Closings where cell service is poor, what happens when you are in the process of an e-Closing or Web Closing and you loose connection?

Cynthia

14 Dec 2017

Our company has been using www.docverify.com for both electronic notary and remote notary successfully now for a little while now. Their technology has allowed us to utilize both in person and remote notarizations. I or we recommend that you guys also take a look at them too as they are from our understanding the only company that allows notaries to do these tasks without huge upfront costs.

Miquelda

16 Feb 2018

What companies can we use for enotarizations or webcam notarizations. I’m in FL

National Notary Association

16 Feb 2018

Hello. As mentioned in the article above, only certain law enforcement and correctional officers who can administer oaths and affirmations may perform webcam notarizations in Florida.

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