What is remote online notarization? What does it mean to individuals and business owners, and how can a remote online notary benefit people and businesses home and abroad?
This article will explain how remote online notarization (RON) works, what its benefits are, and why people, especially business owners, should consider using this service.
Let's start with the basics.
What exactly is a notary public?
If you ask google to define notary public, it will pop up with this short blurb from the Oxford Languages dictionary: a person authorized to perform certain legal formalities, especially to draw up or certify contracts, deeds, and other documents for use in other jurisdictions.
That’s actually not a very good definition and unless all those acts listed above are approved by your state laws, then we need to look elsewhere.
How about Merriam & Webster? Smart fellas right?! Let’s see what they say: a public officer who attests or certifies writings (such as a deed) to make them authentic and takes affidavits, depositions, and protests of negotiable paper.
Much better! We can live with that.
Also called a notary for short, they're required to be able to read documents in order to verify signatures on legal contracts such as deeds, mortgages, leases, etc.
Notaries are also required and expected to be upstanding and trustworthy citizens of their community.
So, who is this RON guy?!
"RON" is an acronym used in this industry and it can stand for either "remote online notary" or "remote online notarization” depending on how it’s used.
I can assure you when I type RON in all caps, I’m not referring to my cousin. I have a fraternity brother who thinks I named a whole university after him. That’s not the case, but I did send him a RONU sticker.
How does remote online notarization work?
A remote online notary service allows a person who has no physical presence in the state where they are signing documents, or even in their own country, to sign them. This service provides an alternative method of document execution that may be more convenient for both parties involved.
Remote online notary services are a convenient way to have documents notarized without having to travel.
The process of getting an official document notarized in the United States has traditionally required that you physically visit a notary and pay for the service, which usually costs between $25-$200 depending on how many pages there are in the document being notarized.
A remote online notary service allows people who do not live near a notary to sign important papers such as contracts, deeds, mortgages etc., from anywhere in the world.
Remote online notaries use secure electronic methods to verify signatures and authenticate identities.
The document cannot be changed once it is signed and notarized using a remote online notarization platform.
Is remote online notarization legal in my state?
Currently, 35 states have enacted some form of permanent remote online notarization (RON) law:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming [updated August 1, 2021].
Remote online notarizations are accepted in all 50 states. However, if you want to make sure that your signature is valid when you send a document to another state, then you need to check whether that particular state accepts remote online notarizations before sending it.
Why would I choose remote online notarization over traditional notarization?
There are several reasons why someone might prefer remote online notarization instead of going through the hassle of traveling to get their documents notarized.
Some examples include:
- People with disabilities - Those who suffer from mobility issues or other health conditions often struggle to go to a local notary office because they don't feel comfortable leaving home. A remote online notarization solution could provide these individuals with access to notarial services at any time and place.
- Business owners - Many businesses require employees to work remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. If this applies to you, you will likely need to execute multiple agreements throughout the year. By outsourcing those tasks to a remote online notary provider, you can save money while still ensuring compliance.
- Individuals living abroad - When working overseas, most countries only allow foreign citizens to obtain notarial services within their borders.
The benefits of using remote online notarization include:
• No long lines at busy office hours
• Save time by avoiding traffic jams
• Avoid paying high fees for traveling expenses
• Reduce carbon footprint with less fuel used
• Eliminate waiting times due to slow staff members
• Signing documents from anywhere around the world
• Get access to legal services 24/7
• Accessible anytime, day or night
• Securely store all records digitally
• Easily share documents via email
• Convenience – You don’t have to leave home to get your documents notarized.
You can easily integrate RON into the tools and systems you use. Using API, you can automate repeatable workflows, such as creating a document template with proper notary certificate language.
Why should you and your business consider remote online notarization?
There are several reasons why you might want to consider RON when looking for ways to streamline your company's processes. Here are some examples:
1) If you do most of your business over the phone, then you could save money by eliminating trips to the local notary.
2) If you operate out of multiple locations, then you would eliminate the cost associated with transporting documents back and forth.
3) If you run a small business, then you probably already spend too much time away from your family doing things like driving to meetings and running errands. By outsourcing these tasks to someone else, you'll free up valuable time to focus on growing your business.
4) If you frequently conduct business overseas, then you'd likely find yourself spending lots of time trying to coordinate schedules with people across different countries. With remote online notarization, it's easy to schedule appointments whenever is best for everyone involved.
5) If you're working remotely as part of a telecommuting arrangement, then you won't have to worry about losing track of important paperwork because you were unable to make it to the office.
6) If you regularly deal with international clients, then you will appreciate the convenience of being able to execute contracts electronically instead of sending paper copies through the mail.
How do I get started with remote online notarization?
RON works just like traditional notarizations except that everything happens virtually.
The process begins with an initial consultation where your remote online notary will discuss what type of documentation needs to be notarized.
Then the RON will review the details of your project and determine whether their services meet your specific requirements.
Once they've determined that they do, they’ll send you a quote detailing the approximate fee for completing your task.
After reviewing the estimate, you decide whether you wish to proceed.
Remote online notarization is the way of the future.
When it comes to having your documents executed, remote online notarization provides the safest and most secure method.
It is a simple and easy way to get the legal documents you need signed and notarized without having to travel anywhere or wait for days in order to have them.
Statistics show remote online notarization is trending upward. It has become more popular than ever before.
Remote online notarization allows businesses to cut costs while still providing their customers with peace-of-mind knowing that all transactions are legally binding.
In fact, according to one study conducted by the National Notaries Association, more than half of all U.S. States have now legalized remote online notarization.
Remote online notarization statistics also indicate that many businesses choose to use this option due to its ease-of-use and low costs.
What types of documents can be notarized using remote online notarization technology?
RON service support any documents that require a signature. RON platforms also offer electronic signatures, which allow you to sign documents using special software. This makes signing documents easier and faster than typing each one manually.
There are several reasons why companies opt to use remote online notarization for their documents rather than traveling to their local notary public.
Some common uses include:
- Business licenses
- Real estate transactions
- Power of attorney forms
- Affidavits and depositions
- Wills & other probate matters
Can signers pay online?
Yes, they can. Independent notaries must provide a method to accept payments, usually via PayPal, Stripe, Venmo or other online method.
You don’t even need to create an account! Simply click “Pay Now” when prompted after selecting your payment amount.
What steps should I follow before I get started with RON?
If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits offered by remote online notarization, but aren’t sure how to go about getting started, here are three steps you must follow before signing up for any kind of document execution service:
Step 1 - Find a reputable provider who offers remote online notarization.
There are many companies offering this service, so choose carefully. You want to ensure that the company has been around long enough to gain credibility and experience. They should also provide references from satisfied customers.
Step 2 – Review their terms and conditions thoroughly.
Make certain that there isn’t anything hidden within those pages that could cause problems down the road. For example, if the contract stipulates that the customer agrees to pay an hourly rate plus expenses, then don’t sign it until you know exactly what “expenses” means. It may include things such as postage costs, courier fees, etc.
Step 3 – Ask questions!
Don’t hesitate to ask the representative at the company why he/she thinks remote online notarization would work well for your particular situation.
Ready to get started with RON?
If you’re ready to take advantage of this new technology, register for RONLINE ’21 today!
We look forward to helping you start saving time and money while increasing efficiency throughout your business and helping others do the same.