COVID-19 and the Advent of Remote Notaries

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    With the rise of COVID-19 in the United States, many businesses have had to alter how they do business to ensure employee and customer safety. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued regulations to help slow the spread of the virus including the use of facial masks covering the nose and mouth and the implementation of social distancing. For some industries that focus on face-to-face operations, allowing for at least six feet of space between individuals has been a challenge to overcome. Notaries had to adapt to carry out business during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the birth of remote notaries.

    What Do Notaries Do?

    According to the National Notary Association, notaries (or notaries public) are professionals certified by the state to “serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.” Essentially, notaries certify that the client really is who they say they are when signing legal documents and that they are doing so willingly. A large part of a notary’s job hinges on their objectivity and integrity as most of the tasks they assist with are legal in nature – some even requiring the client be placed under oath. Notaries must perform without self-interest or bias against any race, religion, sexuality, or other protected class of individual.

    Some notaries can travel to their clients. This is beneficial for those who may be at risk for COVID-19 and cannot venture out to a crowded office. Still, others are specially certified by their state to perform remote notarizations.

    How Do Remote Notarizations Work During COVID-19?

    Pre-pandemic, clients who wished to work with a remote notary could solicit several online services. However, these notaries must have been commissioned by one of 24 states and received special training. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, several states have extended the right to perform remote notarizations to their normal notaries. In a socially distant environment, this sounds like a dream come true, right? Unfortunately, not all states allow their notaries to perform their duties remotely and many companies and agencies that request notarizations will not accept ones done remotely.

    It all boils down to verification of identity and motivations. When working in-person, it’s easier to identify a person’s face, verify a photo ID, and ensure a sound mind. Remote notaries operating during COVID-19, however, must work a little differently. Remote notaries perform notarizations via webcam. Depending on the lighting, angle, and video quality, it can be difficult to see a person’s face or photo ID. Remote notaries also can’t be sure what is happening just off-camera. Is someone threatening their client? Are they fully attentive and aware of the content of their documents or are they distracted?

    Remote notarizations are a revolutionary step for notaries everywhere and for the clients they serve who may be unable to leave their homes, especially during COVID-19. Alas, with today’s technology, they also face many challenges to ensuring they perform their duties smoothly.

    Inland Empire Mobile Notaries are Ready to Serve You During COVID-19

    To ensure the agency you are submitting to accepts your documents, opt for an in-person notarization, if possible. ProSe Legal notaries stand ready to help even during the COVID-19 crisis. California forbids notaries from performing remote notarizations. However, we can still help protect you from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 using our mobile office! Our mobile office abides by all safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distance and fiberglass barriers between masked notary and client.

    If you need assistance completing your legal paperwork, let us come to you!

    or call (909) 497-1349.