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Remote Notarization Vs. Traditional Notarization

Updated 4-12-22. The use of new technology tools for notarizations has caused confusion for many people, including Notaries. There is remote online notarization (RON), which is different from in-person electronic notarization (IPEN) or remote ink-signed notarizations (RIN). And all 3 are different from traditional, pen-and-paper notarizations.

Here’s a step-by-step look at the differences between these notarization methods. Please note that this is a general description, and specific requirements in some states may vary.

What does each type of notarization entail?

A traditional notarization is the one most Notaries are familiar with. The signer and Notary meet physically face-to-face for the Notary to notarize a handwritten signature on a paper document.

For in-person electronic notarization (IPEN), the Notary and signer still physically meet face-to-face. Instead of pen-and-paper signatures and documents, the Notary and signer use electronic signatures to sign and notarize an electronic document (often called an “electronic record” in state laws).

For a remote online notarization (RON), the Notary and signer meet remotely from different locations using audio-visual communication technology, and the notarization is typically performed remotely using electronic signatures and records. 

During the COVID-19 emergency, some states authorized an alternative notarization process called Remote Ink-Signed Notarization (RIN) as an alternative to notarizing paper documents in person. Today, 7 states have permanent laws authorizing RIN notarizations. During a RIN, the signer signs a paper document while communicating live with the Notary online. The signer may be required to sign a declaration under penalty of perjury stating that the document they signed and send to the Notary is the same document and attach it to the document. The document is then sent to the Notary for notarization.

Document formatting requirements for each type of notarization

Each type of notarization (Traditional, IPEN, RON and RIN) has different document format requirements:

Traditional notarization requires a physical paper document with an original written signature in ink.

In-person electronic notarization requires an electronic record such as a PDF or Word file. The document is presented on a computer, laptop or mobile device.

Remote online notarization typically requires an electronic record as with IPEN, although some states allow paper documents to be signed and notarized using RON.

RIN requires a physical paper document with an original written signature but may also require an additional electronic copy of the document to be sent to the Notary.

Identification of the signer

Both traditional and in-person electronic notarization use the same methods for identifying signers. The signer must personally know or present satisfactory proof of identity to the Notary, typically an identification document such as a driver’s license or one or more credible witnesses who know the signer personally and can vouch for the signer’s identity, following the requirements of state Notary laws.

Remote online notarization requires signers to be identified through a combination of at least 2 identity verification methods that are tailored for the remote environment.  Examples include knowledge-based authentication (KBA) where the signer must answer questions correctly about their credit history and background; credential analysis, where the signer’s ID is checked using an automated process to confirm the ID is genuine; remote presentation, where the signer presents ID to the Notary on camera so the Notary can read the information, biometrics, or a public key certificate.

For a RIN, the signer must be identified through a process approved by the state. Examples may include the Notary’s personal knowledge of the signer, remote presentation of an ID document to the Notary or the oath/affirmation of a credible witness participating in the RIN. 

Notary signatures and seal

Most Notaries are familiar with the traditional notarization process in which the customer signs the paper document in pen and ink. The Notary then completes the certificate wording, signs the certificate with pen and ink and affixes their physical Notary seal.

For an IPEN, the customer signs the electronic document with an electronic signature — by clicking a mouse or writing the signature on a signature pad. The Notary then signs the notarial certificate with an electronic signature and affixes an electronic seal.

For remote notarizations on electronic documents, the customer signs the electronic document with an electronic signature. The Notary then signs the notarial certificate with an electronic signature and affixes their electronic seal.

For RIN, after communicating with the Notary online, the signer then mails, or if allowed by state law, faxes or electronically transmits the paper document to the Notary. After the Notary receives the document, the Notary prints out and performs the notarial act on the paper document, and mails (or faxes or electronically transmits, if applicable) it back to the signer.

Recording the journal entry

Depending on state laws, for traditional and IPEN notarizations the Notary completes a record of the notarization in a bound, paper journal or in some states, an electronic journal.

For remote notarizations, usually an electronic journal entry is required, and the notarization must be recorded using audiovisual technology. The Notary must securely store the recording, along with any other journal information required by state law.

For a remote ink-signed notarization, the Notary should record a journal entry for the RIN, even if not required by law. The Notary should also make a recording of the entire RIN audiovisual conference, ​even if not required by law, create a backup of the recording, and securely store both. Some states may have additional recordkeeping requirements.

Need more information about remote notarizations?

The NNA’s online Knowledge Center has additional information and resources about state remote notarization requirements.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.



38 Comments

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Catherine Montegna

16 Dec 2019

If a notary is only able to notarize in the state in which they are commissioned, can remote online notarization be used if the signer is in another state?

National Notary Association

17 Dec 2019

Hello. Yes, but the Notary must be within the borders of the commissioning state when the remote notarization takes place.

notary@avenotary.com

18 Jan 2020

What states permit RON?

National Notary Association

22 Jan 2020

Hello. Please see here for a current list: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2018/06/remote-notarization-what-you-need-to-know

Ileana

05 May 2020

Can you request an apostille from the State for a document signed via electronic notary?

National Notary Association

05 May 2020

Hello. You would need to contact the state agency that issues apostilles to ask if they can provide an apostille for an electronically notarized document.

JUDY

06 May 2020

In CA a jurat is often required as well. Will the Notary have this as well?

National Notary Association

07 May 2020

Hello. California has not authorized RON at this time.

Takako Jackson-price

05 Jul 2020

How do I find a notary who does remote? is there a website that gives names?

National Notary Association

06 Jul 2020

Hello. Some places you can look are 1) Notaries directories-check for any Notaries listing RON services among the services they offer or 2) Contacting RON technology platforms directly to ask if they have RON Notaries on call who can assist you with your request.

Jerri

22 Jul 2020

Does the digital certificate have to be as long as the notary is commissioned for? For instance if a notary is commissioned until 2024 should the digital certificate be purchased for the most, 3 years?

National Notary Association

24 Jul 2020

Hello.There aren't specific requirements to align your Notary commission and digital certificate expiration dates. However, the industry standard for issuing a digital certificate is 3 years, because it is felt that the digital certificate becomes vulnerable by that point and, therefore, a new one should be issued.

Kristen

29 Aug 2020

How exactly do you become a remote notary?

National Notary Association

31 Aug 2020

Hello. You can find more information here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/remote-online-notary/how-to-become-a-remote-online-notary

kimberly_vance@aol.com

21 Sep 2020

How do remote notaries get paid?

National Notary Association

22 Sep 2020

Hello. That depends on a wide variety of factors. Some Notaries work independently performing RONs and collect fees from customers in the same way as a traditional pen-and-paper Notary. Others prefer to sign up and accept RON assignments through a RON vendor-in these cases, the Notary may be paid a fee that is split between the Notary and the RON vendor.

crystal@bayareaelectricfl.com

10 Nov 2020

I received a notarized document and they marked it for online notarization. The notary seal is so small that I can't read the commission number after printing the document. It appears to me that they scanned an image of their physical notary stamp and physical signature, then copy & pasted them onto the PDF document. Does this meet the RON requirements? I feel as though it should have an actual eNotary seal, is that correct. I don't doubt that this person is a notary, I am just not sure if proper protocol was followed.

National Notary Association

10 Nov 2020

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state the Notary was commissioned in?

Latonya Walters

18 Jan 2021

Where do I get my digital certificate?

National Notary Association

21 Jan 2021

Hello. Some remote online notarization technology vendors provide digital certificates to Notaries who use their RON platform. Digital certificates are also available for purchase from the NNA here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/digital-certificate-voucher. Please note that the NNA's certificate is not compatible with all RON platforms.

Patricia Busch

17 Feb 2021

Thanks 👍, lots of good information, I'm.about to take my first step.into this flied,, Toledo Ohio

lpedersen@seakeeper.com

19 Feb 2021

I use my notary for work. I work with a company called Seakeeper in California, Maryland. Due to COVID we are all teleworking. We use DocUsign to get important forms to be signed. In the state of Maryland can I notarize forms with electronic signatures?

National Notary Association

24 Feb 2021

Hello. If you hold a Notary commission in Maryland, then you may apply to perform remote online notarizations there. Please see here for details on qualifications and how to apply: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/remote-online-notary/how-to-become-a-remote-online-notary/maryland

Gerard Joseph

18 Mar 2021

I want to be in Publix Notary.

National Notary Association

23 Mar 2021

Hello. You can find out more about becoming a Notary here: www.NationalNotary.org/become-a-notary.

Phil Gallegos

21 Apr 2021

Thanks

Robert Block

30 Jun 2021

I am overseas - just completed a new will with a US attorney. I have it in word format. Can I get it notarized using RON? I am from Colorado so it has been completed with all needed CO data. Once done - Am I able to print hard copies to give to beneficiaries and are those valid if and when needed? Thanks

National Notary Association

01 Jul 2021

Hello. You should consult with your attorney to ask if there are any special instructions for your will regarding remote notarization.

Kelly Paulina

19 Jul 2021

Can we physically notarize an electronic signature done via Docusign if the signee is personally known to us?

National Notary Association

19 Jul 2021

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

dianne.shehadeh@gmail.com

19 Jan 2022

where do you get electronic Jurat & Acknowledgment to upload for platforms?

National Notary Association

20 Jan 2022

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are located in?

gjt457@gmail.com

12 Feb 2022

I'm currently a Ohio state notary. How do I get the study guide for Remote notary online? Can I do Signing Agent and Remote Notary?

National Notary Association

18 Feb 2022

Hello. Currently, there are no statutes, regulations or rules expressly governing, prohibiting or restricting the operation of Notary Signing Agents within the state of Ohio. For information on becoming a remote Notary in Ohio, pleas see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/remote-online-notary/how-to-become-a-remote-online-notary/ohio

Marcia franklin

16 May 2022

When will laws be updated to meet 2022 life styles And notaries aren’t bound to just one state. For Ron’s.

Camille Hernandez

16 May 2022

What is the process to become a remote notary?

National Notary Association

17 May 2022

Please see here for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/remote-online-notary

Raphael Munoz

16 May 2022

In New York State it begins on January 1, 2023. No exam no fee

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