This post is part 3 of a multi-part educational series on remote online notarization. For part 2: “RON eClosing Documents & Storage: eNotes, eVaults and the eRegistry” click here.
Remote online notarization (RON) allows real estate closings to be completed electronically with a remote notary. Notaries can use a remote online notarization solution to offer clients the ability to close from anywhere.
The demand for remote online notarization (RON) among consumers is rising in light of increased anxiety around physical contact. As a result, more title & escrow businesses and mortgage lenders are considering RON and remote ink-signed notarization (RIN). The need for remote notaries will inevitably grow as more businesses get on board with RON and RIN closings.
For those considering remote notary certification, now is the time to start necessary training in order to meet current and future demand. Becoming remote notary certified can take up to six weeks for the necessary certifications and for any paperwork to be processed.
Independent certification is generally required for a notary to be eligible to deliver a remote online notarization. The certification helps ensure remote signings run smoothly and that all information is securely captured in compliance with guidelines and laws put forth by regulatory institutions. Learn more about the process to become an online notary as well as additional state-level requirements that may differ state-to-state.
Steps to become certified as a remote notary
Remote notary certification measures vary by state. In addition, some underwriters and lenders may have additional requirements that a notary must meet. To adequately prepare for certification in your state, start with the following:
- Check to see if your state allows for RON or RIN. As of the publication of this article, 26 states have passed permanent RON legislation, one state has enacted permanent remote notarization legislation (akin to RIN), and 20 states have temporarily authorized remote notarizations in light of COVID-19. Each of these states has specific guidelines for remote notary certification. A few common requirements include:
- Meet state’s requirements and training to become a traditional notary.
- Complete remote-specific training and testing required by the state. Some states do not require additional remote notarization training.
- Apply to the Secretary of State or other governing entity.
- Provide the governing entity the general description of the software to be used for RON.
- Check with your underwriter representative for their guidelines in your jurisdiction. Underwriters are quickly adapting their guidelines in light of COVID-19, so be sure to check with them frequently to understand their most recent standards.
- Determine the digital closing vendor that works best for you. Look at which platform provides the most tailored options for real estate transactions and meets the needs of your business. The platform should also meet any technology requirements of the state.
- Register as a remote notary per your state’s registration guidelines. This is typically found on the Secretary of State or other governing entity’s website.
Remote notary certifications by state: a few examples
At this point in time, no national legislation has passed for Remote Online Notarization (however, the SECURE Act is making its way through Congress). As such, each state has its own unique legislation and requirements for RON. Below are a few examples of how these variances can play out across state lines.
Only currently active notary publics are eligible to register to become an online notary (as of the publication of this article). The following steps can be taken to apply for online notary certification:
- Complete required education and acquire a certificate of completion. (This resource offers a list of education providers.)
- Determine the software provider to be used for RON and contract with the vendor before applying. The company must provide you with information regarding:
- The technology used for attaching or logically associating an electronic notarial certificate, signature and seal to an electronic document.
- The technology used in conducting identity proofing and credential analysis.
- The technology used to store and maintain a recording of the video and audio.
- Obtain a surety bond in the amount of $25,000 executed by a surety company duly authorized to transact business in Florida.
- Obtain errors and omission (E&O) insurance policy in the minimum amount of $25,000 from an insurer authorized to transact business in Florida.
- Review the applicable statutes and rules.
- Apply to the Department of State. (Access the remote online Notary application here.)
For more information, refer to the Florida Department of State’s website.
To perform an online notarization in Ohio, a notary must be authorized by the Secretary of State’s Office to perform notary services. Once this authorization is complete, the following steps may be taken to acquire an online notary certification.
- Complete a two hour course and pass a test. (Education and testing information can be found here.)
- Determine the software that will be used for RON and provide the name of the system to be used.
- Apply online to the Secretary of State online here.
For more information, refer to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.
In Texas, the applicant must already hold a current commission as a notary public in Texas. Before applying the applicant must have:
- A digital certificate containing the applicant’s electronic signature. The digital certificate is issued by a third party, must use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, and be X.509 compliant.
- An image of the applicant’s electronic seal in an acceptable file format.
- The ability to maintain an electronic record of the online notarization, including a recording and backup of the audio-visual conference.
With those requirements in place, an applicant must follow the online application process and pay the online commission application fee. Additional information on Texas’ requirements can be found here.
In Virginia, an applicant must first be a commissioned Virginia notary public and then apply to become an electronic notary. Additional education is not required to become a remote notary; however, the Secretary of the Commonwealth strongly suggests that the applicant reads and understands the Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public. Prior to applying, an applicant must purchase an electronic seal and a digital certificate. The following steps can then be taken to apply to become a remote notary:
- Provide a general description of the technology that will be used to create an electronic signature during the remote notarization ceremonies.
- Prove certification to the Secretary of Commonwealth with electronic notary standards.
- Provide a valid email address.
Additional information on Virginia’s requirements can be found here.
Overall, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a certified remote notary. The process varies by state and applicants must observe requirements diligently in order to protect the transactions they are notarizing and ensure a secure and safe experience for all parties involved.
Qualia’s RON specialists are on hand to help your team decipher the necessary requirements in your state. To schedule a time with one of our RON specialists, click below.