As the world stays home to limit the spread of the COVID19 virus, Remote Online Notarization (RON) remains high on the list of potential changes in long-standing financial transaction requirements and methods. U.S. Notary Association continues its series on terms and tools related to digital means of facilitating these transactions. This is the 2nd blog post in this ongoing series. This post addresses the definition and use of digital certificates.
One of the steps involved with becoming RON certified notary is to register with a technology platform. The platforms available will be addressed in a future post and may vary by state. However, in order to register with a RON technology platform, the notary must have a digital certificate. Once the digital certificate is obtained, it gets uploaded to your selected technology platform. The digital certificates is an intangible, invisible component of the RON process. There is no way to actually see a digital certificate. It exists as an encryption tool applied to a document.
The digital certificate serves dual purposes. First, it validates the identity of the RON certified notary. Secondly, it makes it possible to see if anything about the document, once the digital certificate is applied, has been changed. This includes any document content, signatures by the document signer and the signature and/or seal of the notary. The digital certificate is applied to the document being notarized once the notarization is complete, making the document “tamper-evident”.
There are multiple trusted digital certificate issuers. Some of the technology providers can issue digital certificates as well. The most important consideration is to make sure the digital certificate you purchase meets the requirements of the state where you are commissioned.
We hope this explains what a digital certificate is and why it is used. Stay tuned for our next post in this series. As always, we look forward to your comments and questions. We also encourage you to post on our RON forum with your experiences. Stay safe!