Reed Smith Client Alerts

Many businesses notarize documents as a routine part of their operations.  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, physical notarizations have been rendered impossible by government-imposed closures, regulations, and social distancing efforts.  Fortunately, Florida now allows for the remote online notarization of documents:1
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a. Registration Requirements 

Florida Statute sections 117.201 to 117.305 went into effect on January 1, 2020.  These provisions authorize Florida notaries to perform online remote notarizations after they complete an application and training course.  It is essential for existing notaries to familiarize themselves with the following statutory requirements:2

  1. The individual must be an existing notary public.3 Importantly, the remote online notary commission expires with the traditional notary public commission.
  2. Prior to registering to become an online notary, the notary must register with a third-party vendor to provide the technological support necessary to become an online notary. 
  3. The notary must complete an online education-training course and receive a certificate to be submitted with the registration. 
  4. The notary must then proceed to complete the registration.

Once the notary completes the registration requirements, they may begin to remotely perform notarial acts.

b. Remote Online Notarizations4

The statute allows for remote online notarizations – that is, the notary and the person verifying the content of a document are not required to be in the same room. The statute defines “online notarization” as “the performance of a notarial act using electronic means in which the principal appears before the notary public by means of audio-video communication technology.”5 The person whose signature the online notary is electronically verifying is the “principal,”6 while the individual performing the notarial act is referred to as the “online notary public.”7

1. Electronic Signatures Allowed

Wet signatures are not required under the statute. An online notary may notarize an electronic signature.8 The statute incorporates the definition of electronic signature under the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA).9 The UETA, defines “electronic signature” as an “electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”10