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Using a remote online notarization vendor vs. setting up your own RON system: 3 tips

When you’re ready to perform remote online notarizations, there are two choices getting started. Many Notaries sign up with a RON vendor who will provide any required software and tools for online notarization. Some prefer to independently purchase their own identification, remote notarization, and recordkeeping solutions without relying on a vendor.

Which choice is best for you? The answer depends on three important factors.

1. Some states require use of approved RON vendors.

Some state RON laws require Notaries to use a RON vendor. In states such as Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, Notaries must use a RON vendor chosen from an approved list. Florida Notaries must use a RON vendor compliant with state law, but the state does not recommend or endorse specific companies. In these states you can’t set up your own independent RON system. 

Other states may allow Notaries more flexibility to choose. In Texas, for example, Notaries may sign up with a RON vendor or use their own RON system.

However, if you decide to go independent, remember you can’t just start making video calls and performing RONs however you want to. Any system you use for remote online notarization must meet all your state’s requirements.

2. RON vendors are an easy way to get started — but have additional costs.

The advantage of using a RON vendor is that it allows “one-stop shopping” for Notaries starting remote online notarization services. Vendors typically set up any RON necessities for the Notary in one package, such as:

  • Identify verification software.
  • Electronic signature systems.
  • Secure storage for video recordings of remote online notarizations.

Some vendors also will provide Notaries with digital certificates, electronic seals, or training and tech support for their platform, which can be very helpful for Notaries who have little or no experience with RON or electronic documents. A RON vendor’s platform is designed to be user-friendly while obeying all state RON laws, said Joshua Curry, Customer Success Manager for SIGNiX.

At the same time, this convenience comes with additional costs. RON vendors typically charge fees for using their services and some may require the Notary to split a portion of their notarization fees with the vendor.

Another factor that can affect choosing a vendor is high demand due to COVID-19. Nationwide use of RON has skyrocketed this year due to pandemic safety concerns. Some Notaries have told the NNA they experienced delays signing up with vendors in some states due to the large number of new Notaries applying to perform RONs. Because of this, if you want to use a RON vendor, you may wish to allow extra time for possible delays getting started, depending on local demand. 

3. Setting up your own RON system may save money — but requires extra skill and responsibility

Phyllis Traylor of San Antonio, Texas, wanted her own state-compliant personal RON system. She found an identity-proofing service to identify her signers remotely, purchased her own digital certificate and uses Adobe software to electronically sign documents. All this required researching and purchasing different products and setting everything up herself, but Traylor said it significantly reduced her startup costs. “I probably would have paid 3 times as much to join a RON vendor,” she said.

At the same time, she acknowledged that setting up her own system took more time and effort, and may not be an ideal choice for Notaries lacking experience with software installation and other tech skills.

“You need to be at least somewhat tech-savvy. Not an IT professional, but you must be comfortable working with technology,” said Traylor, who said her experience teaching courses in Adobe and Microsoft business software at local colleges helped her find the right technology solutions.

“If you want to set up your own system, you need to understand the requirements for RON in your particular state and make sure you meet those state requirements,” she added.

Final thoughts

Whatever path you choose to set yourself up as a RON, always be sure you comply with all state laws, protect the privacy of your signer’s documents and ensure all your remote online notarizations are properly performed. If you need assistance, the NNA has state-specific RON information available to help you.

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

 

1 Comment

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Barbara Patton

16 Sep 2020

I HAVE MY RON CERTIFICATION, HOWEVER, HAVE NOT ACTIVIATED IT AS YET.

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