Notarizing occurs millions of times a year in the United States alone. Home loans, wills, and hand gun applications are all popular items to have notarized. A notary provides verification that the signing party is who s/he says s/he is and is willingly signing a document. Until recently, all notarization was done in person. A mobile notary travels to wherever the document needs to be signed.
Recently, laws have changed in several states allowing notarization to occur in the virtual world we know as “online”. This has brought about some mixed feelings and concerns. Let’s examine the aspects that impact the argument between virtual and mobile notaries.
First and foremost, safety is an important piece of the notarization process. Many of those hesitant about digital notaries wonder how it can be guaranteed a party is not being coerced or forced to sign a document. If the notary is not physically present, they cannot determine if the signer is a willing individual.
Many argue that the identification and security is lost when a virtual notary is utilized. However, virtual notary pundits argue that the same steps for identification are used – verifying IDs electronically and asking pertinent security questions about the individual.
A virtual notary can present significantly higher prices than a mobile, in person notary. For now, virtual notarization can cost up to double what an in-person notary would charge.
While it may seem counterintuitive to think a virtual notary provides more accountability than a physical notary, it does. The entire process is recorded and kept for record keeping. If anything was ever called into question about the signing, the video would be made available for review.
As it stands now, virtual notarizations are valid across state lines. However, states could enact laws that state otherwise. Iowa currently has a law that states it will recognize out of state notarizations, but only if signed in-person with the notary.
Like many other areas, notarization is succumbing to the virtual world. There are pundits on both sides of the argument of virtual notaries versus mobile, physical notarization. For now, the technology is still quite new and yet to be fully tested against the sands of time. If in doubt, the best way to go to ensure safe, valid notarization is to just do it the “old fashioned” way.