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Personal Appearance Vs. Webcam Notarization

New Hotline Resized 3I have been asked to notarize documents for a wheelchair-bound client who is unable to make the trip to my office. She requested to perform the notarization online using Skype and a fax machine. She wanted to use the Internet video technology to identify her as the signer, as I will be able to see her face, and she can hold up her ID for me to examine. She can then fax me a copy of the ID so I can record the information. I will watch her as she signs the document, after which she will fax me the signatures and also a statement saying that she has signed the documents while I witnessed via the Internet. I can then record the transaction in my journal, noting it was performed online via video and fax. Are these procedures acceptable? – M.B., Philadelphia, PA

No. The Pennsylvania Department of State has stated that this is not an acceptable way to perform a notarization, as it violates the cardinal rule of “personal appearance.” Every person whose signature is notarized must always “personally appear” before the Notary, as a way to prevent potential fraud or forgery. Notaries cannot use Skype or any other web technologies to replace the personal appearance rule. The solution to your scenario is to advise your customer to find a mobile Notary who can travel to the customer to perform the notarization.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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4 Comments

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Falicia Newsome

20 Oct 2016

Thank you for sharing I used the response verbatim when turning down a Notary job of someone who wanted me to notarize something via Skype.

Jan Riese

13 Mar 2017

My daughter needs to sign a document for a trust that is being managed by Fidelity here in the USA. She lives in Geneva, Switzerland and cannot find any notary needed for these documents. Any suggestions?.

National Notary Association

14 Mar 2017

Hello. One option would be for her to contact a local U.S. embassy or consulate to ask if a consular officer could perform the notarization for her.

Peter Castine

05 Jul 2018

I can confirm that the US Embassy (and most Consulates) will notarize documents as a "citizen service" for those living outside the US. The bad news is that the last time I did this, the fee was USD 50.00 per notarized document. Still, less than a flight to the US. At least as long as it's not too many documents.

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