Simply put, electronic notarization or e-notarization happens when a public notary (or in this case, e-notary) notarizes documents electronically, on the Internet. There are no physical or printed signatures: everything is done using notary digital stamps, electronic signatures and digital certificates via the Internet. The electronic notary seal is a digital version of the notary seal used on a paper document, with corresponding data confirming the name, authority and expiration date of the notary service.
An electronic signature is a unique, self-evident form of a notary written signature that is affixed to the document in such a way that the document cannot be changed. Sometimes a unique identification number is also used, known only to the notary in question and the Secretary of the State.
Electronic notarization may be the way of the future, but legal professionals are reluctant to move online. Although there may be many advantages of electronic notarization, there are still some concerns about this process. How can notary services be transferred online effectively and efficiently? Despite the initial resistance from notaries, however, the work is slowly and steadily moving forward with online notarization.
Because an electronic notary can use meeting technology to verify the client’s identity and to verify signatures, online notarization is considered mandatory by federal law and many state laws. In 2012, Virginia became the first state to officially issue electronic licenses, and many states quickly followed suit.
However, electronic notarization still has limitations. Many officials of the specific states are reluctant to allow notaries in their state to do notarizations online. They fear fraud if security is compromised. The new electronic notarization system is still being tested and implemented, and the system can still be improved.
Electronic notarization should translate into significant savings in time and money for both notaries and their clients. The use of electronic signatures, for example, allows a customer who wants certain documents, such as an invoice or a gift, to be presented as soon as possible, to appear in front of the e-notary. The e-notary can then, after performing all the listed actions, electronically sign the document and transfer the document electronically – instantly.
Ideally, electronic notarization should improve the notarization process, significantly reduce processing time, eliminate signature errors and redundancy, increase compliance, and reduce delivery costs. Effectiveness should be improved, thereby improving the customer service provided by notaries.