Laws and Updates

California Remote Online Notarization (RON)

If you are a California State notary, you have inevitably heard about RON. Remote Online Notarization. Bill AB1093 has been introduced into the judiciary committee and has passed with appropriations. It now moves to the senate. The bill has NOT officially passed yet and still has room for opposition. 

There are several issues regarding this bill that gives us pause. First and foremost, we are worried about fraud and intimidation by this type of signing. As a California Notary Public, we are required to make sure our signer is not signing under duress or coercion at all times. However, this can be quite difficult in an online space where you as the notary are unable to assess the situation. In an environment when you are face to face with someone in real time, you can feel the energy, you can tell if something is amiss, and you are aware if someone else in in the room. In the online environment, all the senses above are lost. 

Equally as important is the issue of fraud. We are always taught as new Notaries Public to hold and review IDs to make sure they are compliant and authentic. Yet, in an online notarization, we won’t be able to physically hold or review IDs as this will be up to the computer software to determine if the ID is valid or not.  The RON process completely removes the safety nets we have in place to ascertain if a signer is dishonest or the ID is fraudulent.

A few other minor issues include: 

  • The online platforms are expensive. (Typically $30 a file) 
  • The notary places the signatures and dates of signer on all the lines in the documents, so the signer isn’t actually signing any form of their own volition.
  • The software program doesn’t always work, the wifi can be spotty , and the platforms can be difficult to manage. 
  • Signers are not always tech savvy and a typical loan signing can take over 2 hours.

We do believe there are situations that RON could be beneficial , such as physical limitations when the signer lives in a remote area or during a pandemic, however this is few and far between in our daily business and we believe RON should only be used in these very limited circumstances.

As a citizen of California and a Notary Public, whatever side you lean on when it comes to RON, we all need to make sure this bill and online notarizations are safe and we reduce the risk to the public. 

With AB1093, please consider using your voice. You are a part of the largest advocacy group in the State of California for notaries. If you have any similar concerns, please consider sending us letters as well to voice those concerns and together we will make sure as a California State notary that our voices are heard! 

ANNOUNCEMENT!

We first started working with Assemblyman Kiley’s office in June of 2021 when we sent a letter to his office requesting a review of the CA Civil Code 8205. Due to this code, there are no provisions in the law that allow Notaries Public to make corrections to our notarial certificates, once we leave the table.

As a Notary Public this generally isn’t too problematic as we can go back and notarize again with a new date, if requested.

However, as a Notary Signing Agent, this creates significant issues when a lender, escrow, or the county recorder’s office asks for an updated certificate for a mistake on our certs, but won’t allow a new notarization and a new date.

So, we at Notary Advocates of CA, have requested a change to this law and as of TODAY, we have a BILL!! We have been told there has not been any opposition to our bill, and the NNA has stated they will vote aye for our bill with us sometime this summer, when it comes to a vote.

We will keep you posted as we go through the stages but it looks like by the end of this year, we will all be able to legally make changes to our notarial certificates without any repercussions to our commission.

We could not be more excited about this change as it is a long time overdue and we know it will bring value to all of us, whether we are Notaries Public, Escrow Officers, Loan Officers, Realtors, or anyone working in the industry of Real Estate.

We will keep everyone posted about the next steps and we look forward to seeing you at the Capitol this summer to vote AYE with us!!

UPDATE!

On April 26, 2022, AB2834 was voted on and passed through the judiciary committee. It still has to go through the senate, and has not been passed as a law yet.  We could not be more ecstatic about the process and are looking forward to the anticipation of this bill passing in senate! Stay tuned!!

Sources & Other Information:

  • Certified notaries are able to apply to the Secretary of State to register as an online notary public. 
  • After obtaining a certificate of qualification from the Secretary of State, notaries can perform online notarization in California. In some cases, online notarizations can be performed in another State or outside of the US if permitted in the jurisdiction where you are physically located. 
  • Clear and continuous audio and video feeds must be maintained. Using video conferencing technology will take the place of meeting with a signer in person.
  • Online notaries must maintain one or more secure electronic journals in order to record each online signing they perform, including audio-video recording of notarial acts. 
  • Requires the county to accept tangible copies of an electronic record of electronic signatures if it contains your certification and accurately represents the notarial act. 
  • This bill is exempt from the California Public Records Act. It prohibits online notarization platforms from “accessing, using, sharing, selling, disclosing, producing, providing, releasing, transferring, disseminating, or otherwise communicating any of the following, absent a court order or an express written request (as defined) by the principal:
    • the contents of the online notary public’s electronic journal; 
    • the contents of a document notarized by an online notary public; 
    • the contents of a record of an online notarial act; 
    • the personal information of a person whose signature is notarized, or whose oath or affirmation is taken, during an online notarization.
  • Permits an online notarization platform to access, use, share, disclose, produce, provide, release, transfer, disseminate, or otherwise communicate the contents of a document or record of an online notarial act to the extent necessary to facilitate the transaction of which the document or record is a part, or else to comply with notarial law in California.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to maintain records of online notarizations, including all electronic journal entries. These records are not accessible by the public. The Secretary of State must establish a protocol with all online notarization platforms to transfer records to the Secretary of State