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Tips for making recordings of remote notarizations

RON notarization recording image

Updated 8-3-21. Pen-and-paper journal entries have been an essential part of the notarial act for generations beginning in colonial America right up to the present day. So it is no surprise that in performing remote online and remote ink-signed notarizations (RON and RIN, respectively) today, Notaries may be required to keep records in the form of an audiovisual recording of the notarization. Additionally, Notaries may be required to store the recordings themselves or in a repository for future evidentiary purposes, and protect the recordings from unauthorized access. How do Notaries do that? Let’s look at some examples from state laws, temporary COVID-19 emergency rules and recommended standards of practice.

RONs and RINs require the Notary and signer to communicate directly in real time with each other using audiovisual technology. Typically, this means that during the notarization the signer and Notary will see and speak to each other using a webcam or front-facing phone or tablet selfie camera and a vendor platform or app. State laws usually require these interactions to be recorded and stored securely by the Notary in the event the notarization is questioned or challenged.

Tips for recording a remote notarization

When making an audiovisual recording:

  • Obtain certain verbal recitations on camera. Massachusetts’ emergency law for RIN requires the Notary to obtain the signer’s verbal assent to recording the notarization. Florida requires the signer to declare on camera that the signature being notarized is knowingly and voluntarily made. Keep in mind, too, that your state’s law may require the Notary to recite certain things on camera as well. Indiana’s and Montana’s permanent RON laws require the Notary to provide a statement of how the signer was identified, for example.
  • Record specific events during the notarization. Even if not required by your state, during RONs and RINs Notaries should follow recommended RIN video standards such as asking the signer to “pan” the camera around the room to show if any other persons are present with the signer during the notarization, provided these practices do not conflict with any privacy restrictions as described below.
  • Exclude from the recording what your state law disallows. For example, on privacy grounds Arizona’s and Nebraska’s permanent RON statutes prohibit including images of the electronic document being notarized as part of an audiovisual recording for a RON. Similarly, Texas prohibits Notaries from recording an identification number that was assigned by a governmental agency or by the United States to the signer such as a Social Security number, a serial number on an identification card or passport or any other number that could be used to identify the signer, grantor or maker of the document (1 TAC §87.50). Texas Notaries are also prohibited from recording biometric data, including a thumbprint or fingerprint. 

Tips for storing a recording of a remote notarization

Audiovisual recordings of remote notarizations must be stored and secured. In some states, the Notary may be responsible for storing the recordings, but other states may allow or even require the Notary to contract with an authorized repository to store their recordings. Some RON technology providers both record and store recordings for each RON notarization on the Notary’s behalf. If you are not using a RON platform that provides recording or storage it will be up to you to make sure any required audiovisual recording for a remote notarization is properly made and archived.

When storing an audiovisual recording of a notarization:

  • Retain the recording as long as your state’s Notary laws or temporary rules require. For example, Florida’s permanent RON law requires the recording to maintained for at least 10 years after the date of the notarial act.
  • Protect the recording from unauthorized access by others with a password that is only known to you or through other another secure means of authentication.
  • Make backup copies of the recording (for example, keep one copy on your computer and another in cloud storage), and protect the backups from unauthorized access as well.

Final thought on remote notarization recordkeeping

Keep a journal of RONs and RINs even if you are required to make and keep an audiovisual recording of these notarizations. Most permanent RON laws require the Notary to keep both a recording and a journal entry in an electronic journal. In the case of the latter, most RON platforms will automatically create an electronic journal entry with all information required by state law. If you use multiple platforms, your state may allow you to keep multiple electronic journals for each platform you use.

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

Related Articles:

States take emergency action on remote notarization and signers’ ID

Additional Resources:

NNA RON Resources

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