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Another State Says Yes To Webcam Notarizations

2 More States Approve Webcam Notarization, Others Back Off

Updated 3-15-18. Apart from Texas and Nevada, 9 other states have considered webcam notarization bills this year. So far, the legislatures in 5 states (Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri) did not enact their webcam proposals, and 4 (Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania) are still considering them.

Webcam notarization allows the signer to personally appear before the Notary using video and audio technology over the internet. Most states require the signer to be in the Notary’s physical presence at the time of the notarization.

With so much activity surrounding webcam notarization, it is gaining momentum across the country. In an interview with National Public Radio, NNA Vice President of Government Affairs Bill Anderson described it as “the Notary issue of the year.”

The Texas Webcam Bill
 

Texas House Bill 1217 goes into effect on July 1, 2018, and requires Notaries or Notary applicants to apply to become an “Online Notary Public” in order to perform webcam notarizations.

HB 1217 requires online Notaries to verify the identity of signers either through personal knowledge or a multi-factor method that includes:

  • The presentation of a government-issued ID card, such as a driver’s license or passport, that includes a photograph and signature;
  • A third-party analysis of the ID that verifies it is valid; and
  • A third-party identity-proofing of the signer, such as knowledge-based authentication (KBA). With KBA, the individual must answer in a short period of time a series of randomly selected questions related to their personal histories that only they would know.

Among other provisions, the Texas law also:

  • Requires the online notarial certificate to state whether the signer appeared before the Notary in person or remotely and to note that the notarization was performed online;
  • Permits an online Notary or their employer to charge a maximum fee of $25 per online notarization; and
  • Requires the online Notary to keep a secure, electronic recording of all online notarizations for at least 5 years.

Unlike Virginia and Montana, the Texas law does not require online Notaries to make and store an audio-video recording of each online notarization. However, Texas’ identity-proofing requirements are more robust.

Between now and the effective date, the Texas Secretary of State’s Office will publish rules fleshing out the application process for becoming an online Notary. This story will be updated when the rules are available.

The Nevada Webcam Bill
 

Nevada’s Assembly Bill 413, which also goes into effect on July 1, 2018, is the most detailed and substantive webcam measure to date. It also includes provisions from the NNA-authored Model Electronic Notarization Act, published earlier this year.

The Nevada bill requires Notaries to register as an electronic Notary in order to perform webcam notarizations. It also requires first-time electronic Notaries to pass a training course.

In addition, AB 413:

  • Removes the requirement for a separate, $10,000 bond to be an electronic Notary;
  • Requires electronic Notaries to verify the identity of online signers using methods similar to those in the Texas law;
  • Requires the electronic notarial certificate to note that the notarization was performed online;
  • Requires the Notary to electronically record each online notarization and keep the recording in a secure manner for 7 years;
  • Requires the eNotary to keep a secure electronic journal entry for each electronic notarization and keep the journal for 7 years after they stop being an eNotary;
  • Specifically authorizes eNotaries to remotely notarize electronic wills; and
  • Allows the eNotary to charge a maximum of $25 per electronic notarization.

Webcam Notarizations And Electronic Wills
 

While the electronic will provision was a main feature in Nevada’s webcam notarization bill, a number of states this year considered standalone electronic will measures that included online notarization provisions.

In Florida, an electronic will measure has passed the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature. Currently, Florida permits certain law enforcement and correctional officers to administer oaths using electronic means.

New Hampshire also is considering an eWill measure. However, similar bills failed to be enacted in Arizona, Indiana and Virginia.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

Follow The Progress Of Legislation In Your State With Notary Policy Tracking.

 

23 Comments

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Ralph H Zucker

26 Jun 2017

Even if my state allowed it I wouldn't participate. The notary has no idea what is going on outside the view of the camera and whether any coercion is taking place. Bad idea.

Diane Gibson Smith

26 Jun 2017

How do they verify the authenticity of identifications? Seems like this would make it easy to be fraudulent.

Darlene McNeal

26 Jun 2017

I think webcam notarization is a dangerous idea its difficult to tell if someone is in the background having the client sign something they don't want to especially the elderly Also it would be hard in a Real Estate transaction to always know the frame of mind of the signer.

John Axt

26 Jun 2017

The Florida eWill bill (SB 206) will make it VERY difficult for individual notaries to provide any services directly to consumers relating to eWills. The simple act of providing eNotarization is challenging enough for most notaries let alone the potential for having to communicate with as many as three different parties not in the presence of each other, record it and store it for the future. I doubt many notaries would want to try to qualify for "Qualified Custodian" status.

Joyce C Krauchuk

26 Jun 2017

This scares me silly. Looks like the next opportunity for illegal transactions will come in hand with this. My imagination can think of many ways this can go very wrong.

Regina Harris

30 Jun 2017

I agree, this open the door for fraud. It's hard to my sure that the person see you in person is being truthful. No, I don't approved of the cam record.

Steve Rose

07 Aug 2017

I am all for this and wish that more States would open their doors for WebCam Notarizations similar to this. Perhaps in time... all will do so, with very few exceptions.

Patrick Nevling

07 Aug 2017

I don't agree at all with this. I always believe competency and willingness can not be done over a computer.

Johnnie Terwillegar

07 Aug 2017

I personally think that is a horrific idea. It is convenient but open to many avenues of abuse. It would be easy to sit still or wring hands out of sight, jiggle the leg. These are telltale signs of distress. I would not participate and hope the State of Oregon gives the Notary a choice of participating or declining notarizing video/audio documents.

Matt

07 Aug 2017

why is the nna endorsing enotarizaiton? shouldn't they be using our due money to lobby against such measures? i can already see the next "robo signing" disaster in the works.

National Notary Association

09 Aug 2017

Hello. The Model Electronic Notarization Act (MENA) includes several recommended provisions to protect both Notaries and members of the public who rely on the integrity of audio-visual electronic notarizations. For more information, please see this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2017/05/model-electronic-notarization-act-2017

A C Dye

07 Aug 2017

I can see huge areas of improper behavior....we can only see the person that will be signing...but not those in attendance that may have control of the signer ie relatives, etc. and we would be depending on that 3rd party to verify the authenticity of the proof of ID...I hope we never do this in California....having said that....holding back progress is like holding back the hands of time.....it will probably become a reality at some time in the future..

Lorraine W. Pereverziev

07 Aug 2017

I have chirped in on this before but have a new slant to offer. I had a client comment on the ability to tamper with video, even live video. A good example of this is Kurt Russell in the latest Guardians of the Galaxy movie where he appears as a twenty-something year old with all of old-timers wondering how they did that. With technology just beginning to hit it's stride, the ability to fool the camera is just one aspect to consider. Another, as I mentioned before, is the concern of what is going on outside of the camera's range - is there duress, undue influence, other threatening behaviour? And let's not forget fraud. If the picture being sent is altered to match someone else's physical appearance, how is that going to be combatted? I am all for advancing our technology, but I am equally concerned about protecting our clients, their lenders and their title and escrow companies.

Nohra Price

09 Aug 2017

I personally don't agree with this way to notarize documents, is another way to commit fraud.

KJ OBrien

14 Aug 2017

Something not mentioned or discussed anywhere I've seen this topic--How will documents be filed of record with counties that aren't yet set up for electronic filing? That was a point I emphasized to my legislators who had put a bill on the agenda this year. I know of two counties that aren't set up for filing anything remotely or electronically. Fax, mail and/or hand delivery are the methods still used to file documents.

gjsnotary@gmail.com

08 Nov 2017

I'm reading all of the comments and while people talk about all of the pitfalls, I'm coming up with solutions, such as having the signer use a 360 degree camera or comparable tecchnology, which is already in use by all of us. Furthermore, I see TWIC, TSA Precheck, and RealID being incorporated into all of our IDs which should put notaries at ease.

Cassandra L Pressley

15 Jan 2018

I am thinking of identical twins, I believe facial and finger printing techiques identification would have to come into play. States would have to make it impossible for fraudulent behavioral.

John Robinson

02 Mar 2018

What makes anyone believe that the presence of a notary seal and a statement of personal appearance eliminates the potential for fraud?

Angela Varvi

04 Apr 2018

California does not require me to keep any documentation other than my physical notary journal, which must be kept in a locked and secured area, under my direct and exclusive control. Currently, I prefer not to be responsible for maintaining the security of online documentation, especially given the environment of online security breaches.

Matt

12 May 2018

What is the NNA doing to protect traditional notaries from out of state eNotaries? The answer, absolutely nothing. The NNA is in bed with the tech companies pushing this technology all in an effort to create a governmentally sanctioned monopoly. Notaries need to rise up and speak out against enotariations or we will all likely be out of business in a matter of months.

Shirley

25 May 2018

Can a notary in Virginia or any state that’s allowed to do webcam notariations preform one for someone in a state that is not approved to do webcam notarizations?

National Notary Association

25 May 2018

Hello Shirley. Some states, including California, Colorado, Iowa and West Virginia, have issued public statements that webcam notarizations are not acceptable in their jurisdictions. For more information, please see this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2016/07/webcam-notarizations-redefining-presence-or-fraud

atreqdoc@gmail.com

26 Jun 2018

While web cam is great, I live in an area if there is weather inclement, the system is slower and sometimes will go down for hours. The next thing is lower fees since there is no travel nor printing involved. Therefore to make a living with this process you will need a substantial volume.

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