Five Important Things Everyone Must Know Right Now About Florida’s New Remote Online Notarization Law

Elderly woman with her daughter and a lawyer looking at a computer.

It’s official. The State of Florida has reached the future. No, we don’t have flying cars or NASA access to weekend trips to Mars, but Florida has something just as futuristic and innovative: Remote Online Notarization!

Effective January 1, 2020, the State of Florida revised its notary public laws to include interactive audio-video conference to qualify under the “personal appearance” requirement. Remote Online Notarization (RON) is where a signer and notary public use audio and video communication to notarize a signer’s electronic signature on electronic documents. What this means is online notarization has been redefined to include the performance of a notarial act using electronic means where the signor appears before the notary public by means of audio-video communication technology. So, while the notary and the signer see and hear each other via their computer screens, they no longer have to be in each other’s actual physical presence.

Can you imagine? We are about to embark in world where contractual notarizations are performed online – from the comfort of our very own homes. Wills can be signed without an elderly signor having to leave his bedroom. Real estate closings will occur without the buyer, seller or mortgage lender ever having to exchange a handshake. The possibilities are endless and with all of this new age technology and groundbreaking developments, it can really force us to wonder if we will ever see another human being in the flesh –again. But, let’s not be so dramatic – at least not yet.

Attorney Diane Vidal recently gave an interview regarding the new virtual notarization law in Florida. Watch and listen:

For now, there are five very important things we all must know about Florida’s RON law.

  • Not just any Florida notary is authorized to notarize documents online. After complying with all of Florida’s required prerequisites such as complying with a state-approved two-hour RON course and payment of registration fees, an existing Florida notary public must register with the State as an online notary in order to be permitted to notarize documents online.
  • Identity proofing is made possible only through state qualified RON service providers. The RON notary must verify credentials utilizing technological credential analysis and identity proofing via the presentation of a remote presentation of a government issued id, credential analysis of the id and identity proofing in the form of knowledge-based authentication. This is all made possible with the assistance of state qualified and approved RON service provider only.
  • Yes, documents requiring a witnesses’ signature – even if the witness is physically remote from the signor – is possible using RON. Although there are added protections when a document requires a witness, a document requiring a witness’ signature is now possible online where a witness can be in the physical presence of the signor or remote from the signor so long as the witness conforms with the statutory requirements for using the audio-video communication technology.
  • Remote online Real Estate Closings are now possible. Consent from all parties to a real estate transaction (seller, buyer/borrower, lender) must be obtained prior to execution and notarization of documents electronically and the mortgage lender must approve and consent to the use of RON. Otherwise, the real estate transaction may be invalid.
  • The notary block has changed. The notary public must select whether the signer appeared by means of physical presence or online notarization. While failure to comply with procedures may not impair validity of notarization, it may be voidable where evidence can be introduced to establish violations such as fraud, forgery, impersonation, duress, incapacity, undue influence, minority, illegality, unconscionability. The notary block should look something like this:

COUNTY OF _______

The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me by means of [] physical presence or [] online notarization, this …. day of…….., …(year)…, by …(name of person acknowledging)…….(Signature of Notary Public – State of Florida)… …(Print, Type, or Stamp Commissioned Name of Notary Public)… Personally Known …….. OR Produced Identification…….. Type of Identification Produced……………………

If you are interested in having your documents notarized online, we’re here to help. Contact Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant for more information.

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