Posted on April 27, 2020, by Jennifer Codding
Under a new law, authorized notary publics in the State of Florida may now perform remote online notarization for persons located anywhere in the United States by use of a secure audio-video connection. The law, codified in Fla. Stat. Chap. 117 Part II, went into effect on January 1, 2020, and revised Florida’s notary public laws to include interactive audio-video conference as a means to meet the requirement that persons personally appear before the notary.
Previously, in order for a Florida notary to complete a notarial act, the notary and the signer were required to be in the physical presence of each other. With the new law, provided both the notary and signer can see and hear each other via audio-video communication technology, the performance of the notarial act may be done through electronic means.
What is equally innovative is that witnesses may also be remote, provided the witnesses conform with the statutory requirements for using the audio-video communication technology. Although the remote online notary must be located in Florida, neither the signer nor any witnesses must be located in the State of Florida. For instance, the signer could be in New Hampshire and the witness in California. In instances where parties are located in other states, Florida law governs over the notarial act. In all other aspects, the remote online notary is subject to the same rules and regulations as a traditional notary public.
Additional Requirements for Remote Online Notarization Acts
There are, however, some additional requirements for a remote notarial act to comply with statutory requirements. Particularly, a remote notary may not perform a remote notarial act unless he or she does so using a qualified remote online notarization service provider. The provider must be capable of providing a secure audio-video platform, advanced identity proofing and credential analysis, and long-term document storage in compliance with Florida law. Notaries are not permitted to perform notarial acts through the use of non-qualified audio-video technology, examples being Zoom, Facetime, or Skype.
Steps to a Remote Online Notarization
To begin the process, a person or business uploads documents to be signed and notarized to the qualified platform. The platform then notifies the online notary that the documents are ready. The signer accesses the platform and begins an authentication process necessary to verify the signer’s identity. The notary starts a recorded video chat session with the signer and any witnesses and completes identity validation and credential analysis. The signer then digitally signs the documents, and the notary performs an electronic notarization. The signer and/or business entity receive copies of the notarized documents, and the platform uploads a copy of the audio-video recording to a digital journal for the notary.
Allowed Remote Notarial Acts
An online notary that is registered with the Department of State can perform any notarial act over an audio-video connection except solemnizing a marriage and, until July 1, 2020, notarizing the execution of an electronic Will. Beginning on July 1, 2020, the signing of wills can be conducted entirely electronically online via remote presence through video. As to real estate closings, remote notarization is allowed; however, all parties, including the lender, must agree to the use of the process.
Cost to the Consumer
The cost to the consumer for remote online notarization is slightly more expensive than an in-person notarization. Per Florida statutes, the fee of a notary public may not exceed $10 for any one in-person notarial act. An online notary public may charge a fee, not to exceed $25, for performing an online notarization. In addition, an online notary public may charge a fee not to exceed $20 per transaction record for making and delivering electronic copies of a given series of related electronic records, except if requested by a party exempt from payment pursuant to Florida statutes.
In passing the new law, it was the hope of the Florida legislature that remote notarization would provide a more convenient and efficient option for people who require notary services. Massey Law Group, P.A. now offers remote notarization services. For more information, or to schedule a notarization, call 813-868-5601 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel.
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