Remote Notarization is Permitted by Law During the State of Emergency

In the State’s continuing efforts to foster social distancing, Assembly Bill No. 3903 was signed into law on April 14, 2020. It is “…an Act concerning remote notarial acts, and other acts for executing and verifying certain documents, by notaries public and certain other authorized officials using communication technology for the duration of the public health emergency and state of emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.” The Act allows notaries to witness and notarize documents remotely so long as the notary takes the proper measures to confirm the identity of the person signing, and to ensure the correct document is signed. This ACT DOES NOT APPLY TO THE EXECUTION OF WILLS; UCC FILINGS OR MATTERS OF FAMILY LAW.

The notary must verify the identity of the signer in one of three ways: (1) personal knowledge of the person’s identity; (2) by oath or affirmation from a “…credible witness appearing before the notary” attesting to the signer’s identity, or (3) by way of “proofing” with two forms of proper identity, such as a driver’s license, passport, or government issued nondriver identification card, which is current or not expired more than three years.

After confirming the person’s identity, the notary must be “…reasonably able to confirm that a record before the notary public or officer is the same record in which the remotely located individual made a statement or on which the remotely located individual executed a signature.” The notary must preserve the notarial act by creating an audio-visual recording of it and then retain it for ten years. The Act also allows for notarizing signatures from out of state signers for matters relating to “…a matter before a public official or court, governmental entity, or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States…” and so long as the notarial act is not prohibited by the State where the signer is remotely located.

James J. Delia is a Partner at Wells, Jaworski & Liebman who practices in the Land Use and Real Estate areas.

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