Remote Notarization of Documents Proves More Difficult than Anticipated
A portion of Act 15 of 2020 addresses the performance of remote notarization of documents during the COVID-19 disaster emergency. The relevant section of Act 15 provides that a notary public located in Pennsylvania may perform a notarial act using an electronic device that allows for communication by sight and sound. The notary must have personal knowledge of the signer, satisfactory evidence of the identity of the signer by way of a witness or be able to identify the signer with at least two forms of identification. The notary must also be able to adequately identify the record that is being signed. The event must be recorded and the recording must be preserved for a 10 year period.
Before being able to perform a remote notarization, a notary must obtain permission from the Pennsylvania Department of State by way of an application. In addition, the communication technology and the identity proofing technology must be state approved technology. The Department of State has a list of the approved technology. Unfortunately, many of the approved methods are expensive and therefore utilizing remote notarization during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be financially feasible in many instances. There is an exception in Act 15 that allows a notary to use other forms of technology by giving notice to the state in advance of doing so. However, the state has the prerogative to prohibit the use of such technology.
Unfortunately, Act 15’s provisions require a somewhat complicated and expensive process to perform a remote notarization. As a result, for notaries not currently performing electronic and/or remote notarization of documents, these procedures are not likely to be utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.