Digital Notarization

Digital Notarization Terminology

In these unfamiliar times, there are many new terms being used in the notary world. If you are doing loan signings, DoorSide Closings is a new one. However, there is one term that we have been hearing about for a while now but is an important buzzword all of a sudden: RON, or remote online notarization. With people all over the country social distancing and staying home to stay safe, RON has become an important tool in keeping financial transactions moving forward. 

U.S. Notary Association would like to try and put some definition and structure around RON and other digital means of facilitating these transactions and what needs to be done by a notary to perform them. This will be an ongoing series, starting with defining some of the terms associated with digital transactions. This post will address the difference between eNotarization and Remote Online Notarization (RON).

eNotarization has been around since 2006. In an eNotarization, the notary applies an electronic signature and seal to an electronic document. This type of digital notarization is typically used with documents that are eSigned by the document signer. eNotarization is not approved in all states, and in some states, in the case of a document that requires recording, may not be allowed in all counties within a state where eNotarization is allowed. The key point with eNotarization is that the document signer is in the physical presence of the notary public during the notarization, and both the notary and the document signer must be physically in the locality (generally state) where the notary is commissioned.

RON is a newer technology. It was first approved and utilized in the state of Virginia in 2012. There are many technological facets to a remote online notarization, including digital certificates and identification verification. There are states that have approved and implemented RON, and right now, there are states that are approving this technology on an emergency basis. The documents in this process are signed and notarized in an electronic fashion, using a digital signature and seal similar to eNotarization. The procedure is conducted in a manner where the document signer and the notary can view and converse with each other digitally, similar to an online meeting. However, the technology used for remote online notarization ensures that all elements of the document are encrypted, and that no changes can be made to the document. The key point with remote online notarization is that the notary can perform this function with anyone in the world, regardless of the signer's location. But, the notary may only conduct a remote online notarization while the notary is physically located in the state where the notary is commissioned.

We hope this helps to clarify these similar, but different types of digital notarizations. 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!


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