The world of notarization is rapidly evolving. For centuries, the traditional ink-on-paper signature was the legally accepted way to sign a document or record. Now, with the explosion of electronic technology, e-signatures are becoming increasingly popular. With an electronic notary, you don’t ever have to leave the comfort of your own home to notarize your documents!
What exactly is an electronic signature?
According to the American Society of Notaries, an electronic signature can be defined as any relevant electronic trace that is recorded by an individual who wishes to sign a document. Importantly, an electronic signature does not need to come in the form of a traditional signature as we know it. It can include: a typed digital name, the use of an electronic signature pad, an electronic certificate, a symbol, or even a sound or video file.
A person can have even more than one electronic signature, with all being legally acceptable.
Who is an electronic notary and how does the process work?
An electronic notary is someone who is authorized to notarize documents online. In most aspects, the notarization process is similar to in-person notarization, with the individual needing to affirm the relevant documents in the presence of a notary public, in real-time. The resulting electronic notarization is then transferred electronically and can be used for a wide range of purposes.
The biggest difference between traditional and online methods of notarization is related to the actual notarial act. In paper notarization, the notary public physically notarizes and stamps a document. In electronic notarization, this process is carried out via electronic means. In addition to the electronic signature, the details of the notary public must be sealed and attached in some way to the document.
There are two main ways electronic notarization can be accomplished. One is where the individual appears in-person with the notary public but the notarization itself is done electronically. The second is where the entire consultation and notarial process is conducted online using video-conferencing technology.
Is electronic notarization legal?
It depends on the state you’re located in, as well as what documents you wish to notarize.
An increasing number of states are putting into place laws that allow for electronic notarization. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) allowed the equalization – legally speaking – of electronic and paper signatures. While this act has been enacted by almost all states at present, e-notarization is not authorized in some states. Different states have enabled the use of electronic signatures for specific purposes, so your notary public will be able to inform you about local legislation and whether it is possible to get a particular document notarized in this way.
In addition to this, not everything can be notarized electronically. Some documents that cannot be legally e-notarized include powers of attorney, trusts, and wills.
Why should I opt for electronic notarization?
There can be many advantages to using an electronic notary over a traditional one. Probably the biggest advantage is that of convenience – you can get your documents notarized remotely from home, as long as you have an internet connection and a webcam. The video-conferencing call will be recorded, which means you’ll be able to save this for your personal reference. As the end product is in electronic form, it’s also much easier to deliver it to your intended recipient quickly, safely, and securely.
With online notarization, you’ll also reap the benefits that come alongside the use of online technology – this includes a more secure experience, additional verification measures, and forgery prevention.
What happens during an electronic notarial session?
The notarial session may be carried out on a desktop computer or laptop with a functioning webcam or even a tablet or smartphone. It always takes place via a live medium.
The steps involved are: the relevant document(s) are sent to the electronic notary, and the signer’s identity is verified, typically via photo identification through your driver’s license or passport. You’ll then meet your electronic notary via a video-conferencing call. The notary will sign and seal your document electronically, after which it will be made available to you via a secure platform.
E-notarization can be carried out even if more than one signer is required. One possibility is for both individuals to login to the notary session together, if both are available. If not, it is also possible for both to notarize the same document independently by logging into separate sessions.
If a witness is needed for the notarization to take place, he or she must be present within the same notarial session in order to proceed.
Have a question about e-signing or interested in learning about how you can have your documents signed electronically? Contact us at Coast 2 Coast Signings.