Webcam notarization is becoming more popular across the United States and lawmakers in six states are now looking at bills that will permit the practice. Using a webcam for notarization will allow the signer to appear in front of a notary public through the use of audio and video technology through the internet.
Almost all states currently require the signer to appear physically during the notarization. The states that are currently looking at the possibility of enacting laws that will allow webcam notarization are: Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maryland, and Kentucky.
Webcam notarization makes use of audio and video technology via the internet to permit signers to appear in front of the notary and communicate when the notarization is taking place. Traditionally, the signer must be physically present. Webcam notarization makes getting those necessary notarizations more convenient for both the client and the notary.
Presently, only 3 states allow the use of webcams for notarial acts. In 2011, Virginia was the first state to enact a law allowing this practice. Montana became the second state in 2015. Montana restricts the circumstances in which a notarization can be performed with a webcam.
In 2015, Florida legalized the use of webcam notarizations. The enabling law in Florida limits the practice to correctional officers and law enforcement agents who can administer affirmations and oaths. In fact, this method is seldom used except in the courts and jail houses. Unlike Florida, Virginia law allows their eNotaries to notarize documents for anybody located in another location in any part of the world.
The current proposals and bills being considered in Texas, Kentucky, and Minnesota will limit the use webcams for notarization purposes. In Texas, the House Bill 1217 permits these notarizations for signers, documents or transactions that are connected directly to the state. Such notarizations will be for documents on real estate and those that will be filed in a court within the state. The signers are meant to be in the state during the notarization. In Kentucky, the House Bill 218 states that the signers should be in a foreign country. This is similar to a condition stated in the Senate Bill SF 893 before the Legislature in Minnesota.
Although only three states are currently allowing webcam notarization, some prominent organizations including Quicken Loans, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae have already embraced the practice. Also, the National Notary Association recently published a model act that will provide guidelines for electronic notarization in the country.
Similarly, in 2016, Uniform Law Commission upgraded the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts to make provision for webcam notarization for people who are living outside the U.S. This formed the basis for the measures adopted by Minnesota and Kentucky. Presently, the ULC is considering the expansion of the use of webcams for notarization for signers who are residing in the U.S.
With three states already using it and six other states now considering it, it will not be long before the entire public and private sector in the U.S. begin to adopt a form of webcam notarization, especially for remote signers.
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