Florida proposed two bills, HB-409 and SB-548, to allow Remote Online Notaries (RON) using audio-visual technology over the internet, instead of requiring signers’ physical presence before a notary. 19 states have pending RON bills, 10 have RON laws. This article summarizes proposed changes to Florida’s Notary Chapter 117, if SB-548’s revisions are adopted for 2020.
The RON must be in Florida; signers however, may be anywhere. §§117.01, 117.209. The online notarization’s validity will be determined by Florida law, regardless of the signer’s location. §117.209. The notary block must identify not only the RON’s location, but also whether the signer was physically or virtually present (e.g. “The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me by means of [ ] physical presence or [ ] online notarization, this _ day of….”) §§117.05, 117.201. The signer must either be: (a) “In the same physical location … and close enough to see, hear, communicate with, and exchange credentials….; or (b) In a different physical location but able to see, hear, and communicate with the person by … audio-video communication technology …. defined as … real-time, two way communication using electronic means by which participants are able to see, hear, and communicate with one another.” §117.201. Furthermore, the RON must confirm the signers’/witness’ identity by: (1) remote presentation of a government issued ID; (2) “credential analysis” (where a 3rd party affirms the government-issued ID’s validity); (3) “identity proofing” (where a 3rd party affirms identity through questions formulated from public or proprietary data sources or via biometric verification); and (4) performed by a Florida Notary under Florida law. §117.265, §117.201. The RON must keep detailed electronic journals and retain the audio-video recording thereof for 10 years. §117.245. Becoming a RON requires an additional notary course. §117.225.
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