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Webcam Notarizations: Are They Legal?


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In the United States, six states allow webcam notarizations and have passed laws to make it legal and official. A lot of people in most of the other states seem to be performing notarizations via a webcam totally unaware that is it not legal or acceptable. Recent online surveys have shown that most notaries seem to be doing this because their employees have requested them to do so.

In the survey that was done by Colorado Secretary of State’s wing that handles Remote Notary Group, they questioned 81,981 notaries in Colorado on the subject. Received response from 17.4% percent (14,250) notaries and made the following conclusion about webcam notarizations.

Numerous webcam notarization requests were received

Out of the survey, around 12% of the notaries mentioned that they have received requests for conducting webcam notarizations in the last 12 months. Almost 50% of those said they have been requested more than three times to conduct them.

Out of these 257, requests were fulfilled and a webcam notarization was performed in these cases even though the current law in Colorado requires the physical presence of the signers while the Notary is doing the notarization. Out of these 257 cases, most of the notaries mentioned that they did agree to the webcam notarization because their employer requested them to do so.

Which states allow a webcam notarization?

Virginia, Montana, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Nevada have officially passed the law of legalizing webcam notarizations. During an online or a webcam notarization, the signer and notary are not required to be physically present at the same place during the notarization process. The audio-video technology of the internet fulfills the requirement of the personal appearances of the signers being verified.

The survey that was conducted by the Colorado Secretary of State’s wing, questioned a large sample size so the result can give an accurate idea of the state as a whole on the subject. A lot of people have shown concern after reading the results of the survey and the blatant breaking of notary laws.

The NNA Vice President of Governmental Affairs Bill Anderson, commented on reading the result of this survey saying, if 250 plus notaries in Colorado alone have admitted to notarizing signatures online via a webcam or the internet video chat, imagine how many more such cases have taken place in other states, and the United States as a whole, by notaries on the request of their employee even though they do not have the authorization to do so.

Mix views in the subject webcam notarization

The survey conducted in Colorado also questioned the notaries on their opinion on the subject itself and the findings are as follows.

  • 49 percent were in the favor of allowing the online notarization but 29 percent were not
  • 53 percent of the notarized said they have no issues in conduction notarization via webcam but 28 percent said they have an issues and showed concerns in doing so
  • 68 percent mentioned that there must be limits set as to how the notarization done via a webcam can be used
  • 46 percent of the notaries showed interest in providing online notarization

Some notaries who had said that they were fine with conducting webcam notarization did mention that they would do so only for existing (and known) clients. Most notaries showed concern about how in a webcam notarization procedure a signer could not be properly and correctly identified or how to assess if the signer is willing and completely aware of the signing happening and how to make sure no hacking takes place during the process.

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