Remote Electronic Notarization

Background on Remote Electronic Notarization

The notarization process is designed to prevent fraud and forgery by having a third-party (notary public) ensure the signature on a document is authentic, and the signer knows what they are signing and does so voluntarily. Documents that typically require a notarization include healthcare directives, affidavits, powers of attorney, wills and real estate documents. While state laws on notarial acts vary, the key components of the notarization process in all states include personal appearance of the signer before the notary, and verification of the signer’s identity by the notary.

Traditionally, all notarial acts involved a paper document. However, beginning around 2000, state and federal laws authorized notaries to use an electronic signature for notarial acts. In response to these developments, a National E-Notarization Commission, endorsed by NASS, was formed to develop technology neutral standards for the secure implementation of electronic notarization. The standards, which were supported by NASS in 2006, require the notary’s electronic signature and electronic seal be capable of independent verification, and be attached to or logically associated with the electronic certificate in a way that shows evidence of any changes.   

After the national e-notarization standards were developed, a number of states enacted laws authorizing electronic notarization. Many of these laws included provisions based on the standards, including requiring physical presence before the notary in order to meet the personal appearance requirement. However, in 2011 Virginia became the first state to authorize remote electronic notarization (remote e-notarization), followed by Montana in 2015 and Nevada and Texas in 2017.  Under these new laws, the personal appearance requirement for notarial acts could be met through the use of audio/video technology (such as a webcam), with the notary and signer in different geographic locations.

As additional states began introducing legislation on remote notarization, Secretaries of State requested NASS form a Remote E-Notarization Task Force to examine the relevant issues and technology. In 2018, based on recommendations from the Task Force, NASS adopted revised national e-notarization standards to include standards for remote e-notarization. The revised standards were designed to reflect existing state laws and model acts on remote e-notarization, as well as input from Task Force members and stakeholders.

In addition to expanding the definition of personal appearance to include audio-video communication, the revised standards require multiple means of verifying the signer’s identity (e.g. Knowledge Based Authentication and credential analysis), as well as measures to ensure the security and privacy of the audio-video communication.

It is important to note NASS’ adoption of the national e-notarization standards is not an endorsement of either e-notarization or remote e-notarization. NASS does not have a position on this issue. The standards are intended as guidelines for states to consider if they choose to implement one or both of these methods. In 2020, NASS reauthorized a Resolution Affirming the Role of the Secretary of State or Other State Notary Commissioning Entity as Sole Authority to Establish Standards for New Forms of Notarization.

Current Status of Remote Notarization

Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia have a law that allows for remote e-notarization (see list below). A number of these states have developed rules or regulations, and others are in the process of doing so. Many of the state laws and regulations on remote e-notarization reflect the updated national e-notarization standards, though the specific requirements and procedures vary among states.     

Bipartisan legislation has also been introduced in the House (HR 1059) and the Senate (S 1212) that would authorize notaries nationwide to perform electronic and remote notarization.

State Laws Authorizing Remote e-Notarization (updated 12/19/23)

Alabama (2021)
Alaska (2020)
Arkansas (2021)
Arizona (2019) 
  - administrative rules
California (2023) (effective 2024)
Colorado (2020)
- administrative rules
Connecticut (2023) 
Delaware (2022)
District of Columbia (2022)
Florida (2019)
  - administrative rules
Hawaii (2021)
Idaho (2019)
  - administrative rules
Illinois (2021)
- administrative rules
Indiana  (2018)
Iowa (2019)
Kansas (2021)
- administrative rules 
Kentucky (2019)
Louisiana (2020)
- administrative rules
Maine (effective 7/1/23)
Maryland (2019) 
Massachusetts (effective 1/1/24)
Michigan (2018)  
Minnesota (2018)
Missouri (2020) 
Montana (2019)
  - administrative rules
Nebraska (2019) 
Nevada (2017)
  - administrative rules
New Hampshire  (2021)
New Jersey (2021)
New Mexico (2021)
- administrative rules
New York (2021)
- administrative rules 
North Carolina (2022)
North Dakota (2019)
  - guidance
Ohio (2019)
  - administrative rules
Oklahoma (2020)
  - administrative rules
Oregon (2021)
Pennsylvania (2020)
Rhode Island (2022)
South Dakota (2019)
Tennessee (2018)
 - administrative rules
Texas (2017)
  - administrative rules
Utah (2019)
  - administrative rules
Vermont (2022)
Virginia (2011)
  - standards
Washington (2019)
- administrative rules 
West Virginia (2021)
- administrative rules
Wisconsin (2020) 
Wyoming (2021)
- administrative rules

NASS Notary Public Administrators (NPA) Section
NASS eNotarization Implementation Guide (2017)
Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)
ULC Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018)
NASS Issue Briefing: Digital Identity (11/2022)

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