Notaries are starting to put down their stamps and pick up a webcam. Every year, hundreds of millions of documents are notarized in the United States. Since the Roman Empire, notarizations have been done pretty much the same way: in person. Now, new technology and new laws are making it possible to skip the sometimes-problematic search for the notary stamp in favor of a video chat.
Notaries in the state of Tennessee will soon be allowed to perform online notarizations for signers nationwide after Tennessee State Legislature passed the remote notarization bill, empowering every Tennessee notary public to conduct notarizations online. With the overwhelming passage of HB 1794/SB 1758, the bill is now headed to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s desk to be signed into law. Tennessee can join the movement and soon bring an antiqued process of finding a notary into the digital era.
Once the bill is signed, Tennessee notaries will join their counterparts in Indiana, Virginia, Texas, and Nevada in being able to perform online notarizations nationwide. The process is clear-cut. First upload a document to an app or website and get connected with a notary by video, on a split screen; verify your identity by showing a government-issued photo ID, and the notary witnesses you signing your name on screen using your finger or mouse. Then, the notary adds their electronic signature and a digital version of a stamp or seal. The whole transaction is recorded and secured on the cloud in compliance with retention rules. Both the signer and the notary can get copies.
Some concerns about digitization have divided the notary industry and America’s 4 million notaries are split on the idea. “It’s the notary issue of the year,” says Bill Anderson, vice president of government affairs at the National Notary Association. “Allowing that appearance to take place via audio/video communication technology is certainly new and to some extent, untested. … We’re being cautious. But we are trying to accommodate those that think this is a good idea and to add some security to it.”
“Of course, there will always be those who prefer to get their documents notarized in person, if only to hear the old-school stamp of approval.”
Sources: Ben Lane, HousingWire.com, Tennessee notaries will soon be able to perform online notarizations nationwide
Lauren Silverman, All Tech Considered, Notaries are starting to put down the stamp and pick up the webcam