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Coronavirus Closures Affecting Notary Agencies And Recording Offices

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Developing Story. In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, many state Notary agencies and local recording offices have announced closures, reduced hours or limited services for the immediate future. Notaries who need to file commission-related documents, records or surety bonds should be prepared for delays and contact their local recording office or Notary-regulating agency for assistance.

On March 16, Pennsylvania officials announced that Commonwealth employees in Dauphin County and the Capitol Complex will be working remotely through March 30 and some recording offices may be closed. These closures may prevent Pennsylvania Notaries from  filing their oath, surety bond and commission with the Recorder of Deeds office within the 45-day time period required by state law. Pennsylvania officials have said that Notaries will be granted extensions if recording offices are closed for an extended period of time. If a local recording office is open but have limited staff and services, Notaries may be given the option to take their oath of office before another official authorized to administer oaths (another Notary or a judge, for example).

Also, effective March 16, recording offices in Los Angeles County, California, have been closed the public. California Notaries who need to file their oath of office and surety bond in Los Angeles County and resigning California Notaries who need to deliver Notary journals, records and papers to the county clerk’s office in Los Angeles will be unable to do so in person. First-time and renewing Notary applicants may file their oaths of office and bonds with the county clerk’s office by certified mail or by any means of physical delivery that provides a receipt. They should follow the instructions for filing by certified mail provided in their Notary commission packets received from the Secretary of State. They should file their oaths and bonds well within the 30-day window before the start date of their commission. Notaries within Los Angeles County who need to file their journals should contact the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s call center at 1-800-201-8999 to request alternative options for filing journals.

California Notaries in other parts of the state should be prepared to file their oaths of office and surety bonds by certified mail or other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt. Notaries should contact their counties for specific directions.

Washington State has announced that the Department of Licensing’s Notary unit will also be working remotely through April 28 and strongly recommends that Washington Notaries file applications and renewals online

The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications in the District of Columbia is also closed through March 31. Applications that are submitted online will be reviewed by the Office, but it is unable during this time to conduct orientation sessions, administer oaths of office, or to respond to phone calls. Emails submitted to notary@dc.gov may experience a delay in response.

This is an ongoing situation and more states and counties may be announcing closures in the hours to come. If you are a Notary whose needs to take an oath of office or submit documentation to a closed office, check the recording office or your state Notary-regulating agency website for guidance how you should proceed.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

 

10 Comments

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Carol Spruiell

18 Mar 2020

This form is blocking the story. Thank you

National Notary Association

18 Mar 2020

Hello. We're sorry if you are having technical issues viewing a Bulletin article. If you can please email us at social@nationalnotary.org and let us know what article you're trying to view, a description of the problem and what device and browser you are using to view the article, we will be happy to try and help you resolve the issue.

Payal

18 Mar 2020

Do you have information about Santa Clara county? I have to send my oath paper.

National Notary Association

18 Mar 2020

Hello. If you are filing your commission through the NNA, you can call our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827. There is also information available on available services and contact information at the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder's website: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/rec/Pages/ocr.aspx

Danielle Houston

20 Mar 2020

Lenders are continuously putting everyone's lives at risk for the sake of closing a deal this month. They are working from home but scheduling customers and notaries to meet up with each other despite the pandemic. They are promising the customers "and you don't have to leave your home". They need to halt the closings until this is over. The notaries are afraid to turn the closings down because they may lose their business. It's not fair or safe for anyone.

Mark Blosser

21 Mar 2020

If it isn't safe for a signer and notary to meet and sit across a table for an hour to complete a normal signing process, then what is the reasonable accommodation/alternative? Forgo notaries? Sign remotely, mail documents, and perform notaries on an "I trust you" basis? Pass documents through a slot in the door? Use secure messaging on title company websites/emails to facilitate? Electronic (expensive!!!) notary? We do transactions requiring notaries almost weekly, and need to know what will be done about this!

kristen ketring

24 Mar 2020

I work in a small shipping store, like the UPS store and we do notaries daily. Is it safe to perform notary services while the COVID 19 is running rampant? I'm not sure about handling peoples IDs and getting close enough to witness a signature. Should we postpone these transactions for a month or more?

National Notary Association

24 Mar 2020

Hello Kristin. Notaries should follow any guidelines or rules set by city, state and federal distancing regarding safe distancing to prevent spread of COVID-19. Some states have issued special emergency rules for notarizations as well, and we will be posting that information in the Bulletin as we receive it. You can also find additional safety recommendations here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/notaries-precautions-coronavirus

Jill

25 Mar 2020

Hi All -- a little common sense here. If you are a notary public, it is quite simple to witness signatures and notarize while maintaining the 6 foot social distancing requirement. Unless your vision prohibits you from seeing that far away. Simply have the signer place their ID on the table before you then they step back. Look at the ID and determine it is the individual before you. Place the document(s) before them and you step back. Watch them sign each one. They step back. Take the docs and notarize them, Step back. Either they take the docs with them or you do, whatever the agreed upon procedure. Everyone uses their own pen. Everyone sanitizes their hands. Everyone wears gloves and a mask if that makes you feel more comfortable and protected. Everyone calms down a bit. Common sense need not be so uncommon.

Johanna Solis

27 Mar 2020

Common sense is not always there with people. Notaries are a perfect way to spread or catches this virus. I did a door signing yesterday. The most ridiculous signing I have ever done. 180 pages, me standing outside their house in the cold rain while they signed papers 10 yards away. At the same time the client was hacking his lungs out. That is NOT safe! This virus remains on objects for hours maybe even days. Then we have to touch the ID''s because by law you have to personally hold their ID to make sure it's real. No one should be going to meet with clients at this time!!! I'm trying to get a message to the the correct state department to acess this so "called 'essential" job. All these companies just want to make a buck off of us. All closings should be on hold until further notice.

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