The ABC of the e-notarization of documents
The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a transformation that appeared obvious a long time ago, the use of technology to complete formal proceedings like the notarization of documents.
The notarization of documents is the affirmation of a Notary Public as to the true identity of the person signing a document. New York notaries are empowered to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits, support the work of legal staff during depositions, and receive and certify acknowledgments or proofs of formal documents like deeds, powers of attorney, among others.
Before the coronavirus pandemic forced New York citizens to self-quarantine, the notarization of documents required the Notary Public and the affiant (who affirms or makes an oath) to meet in person. The notary would confirm the affiant's identity by means of a valid ID, and then, he would sign and stamp the document. However, since all non-essential businesses have closed such a normal proceeding is almost impracticable.
Considering the importance of the notarization of documents, for instance, to execute contracts, authorize the care of minors, submit affidavits before public agencies, among others, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo authorized the electronic notarization of documents.
According to Executive Order 202.7, any Notary Public duly licensed may notarize documents utilizing audio-video technology. However, to do it properly the notarial act requires that:
The notarial act takes place during a live video conference with the Notary.
The person seeking the Notary's services, i.e. the affiant or signing party, if not personally known to the Notary, must present a valid photo ID to the Notary during the video conference.
It is not allowed to e-mail or to send via message the photo ID of the affiant, prior to or after the video conference.
The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the Notary.
The person must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the State of New York.
The person must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible exact copy of the signed document directly to the Notary on the same date it is signed.
The Notary may notarize only the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same copy back to the person. However, the Notary must print and sign the document, in ink, and may not use an electronic signature to officiate the document.
The Notary may repeat the notarization of the original signed document as of the date of execution provided the Notary receives such original signed document together with the electronically notarized copy within thirty days after the date of execution.
In addition to the requirements explained above the notarized document must comply with the following conditions:
In the document notarized, the Notary must place the commission's expiration date and county where the notary is commissioned upon the document.
If the notary and signatory are in different counties, the notary should indicate on the document the county where each person is located.
For a few reviews of the e-notarization requirements, a guide has been created by the Department of State Division of Licensing Services.
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