The adoption of technology has extended into many different industries, driving necessary updates and further convenience. One such example is Arizona’s adoption of remote online notarization, which empowers an additional 69,000 notaries to offer their services to state residents. The new legislation, introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1030, does not become law until next year, so there is plenty of time to understand its contents and how it affects residents.
What is Remote Online Notarization in Arizona?
Remote online notarization uses audio-visual technology and digital documents to facilitate a meeting between a signer and a notary. This means both parties can be located anywhere and can “meet” outside of standard office hours. Remote online notarization is also called webcam notarization, online notarization or virtual notarization.
Online vs. Electronic Notarization
It is easy to confuse remote online notarization with electronic notarization, but the two have important differences. Primarily, the distinction lies in that electronic notarization still requires the signer to physically appear before the notary. Both parties then provide electronic signatures on a digital document. Online notarization simply takes this process a step further by conducting the entire process via webcam.
Understanding Electronic Signatures for Notarization
There are a number of technology companies that offer remote notarization systems, including:
Each of these enables signers and notaries to electronically sign legal documents. Once signed and notarized, there is no difference between physical and electronic signatures.
Regarding remote online notarization in Arizona, notaries will provide documents from one of the above resources or a similar service. For up-to-date information, visit the Arizona Secretary of State’s website or check the NNA’s Notary Law database for details.
Changes to Required Record Keeping for Notaries in Arizona
Arizona notaries will see provisions go into effect on June 30, 2020. AZ SB 1030 outlines the following changes to require record keeping once remote online notarization becomes available.
The contents of a notary’s journal include the dates, descriptions and details about the signer(s) of each notarized document. Going forward, if the notary only keeps one journal, its contents will be considered public record. However, notaries can keep a public journal and a private journal for entries that contain information that is not public record.
Suspension, Denial and Revocation of Commission
If a notary is found to be non-compliant, the Secretary of State can take a course of action. The non-compliant notary can be required to take a notary training course in addition to suspension. The notary may appeal suspension, but he or she cannot submit a new form while the appeal is pending. However, if commission is revoked, he or she must wait at least one year until appealing for reinstatement.
Electronic Signatures and Seals
Each remote online notarization in Arizona must include an authorized notary’s electronic signature and seal. If they are used without authorization, the notary must alert law enforcement and the Secretary of State.
Identification of Remote Signers
A notary must confirm the identity of the remote signer before authorizing a remote online notarization. It can be verified through personal knowledge, legal identification credentials or the oath of a credible witness. Additionally, a notary is entitled to withdraw from the transaction if he or she cannot reasonably confirm identity.
Find an Experienced Attorney in Arizona
If you anticipate needing a remote online notarization in the near future, you want to ensure that no detail will be missed. This is the main reason it is important to work with an experienced attorney to get it done correctly the first time around. The attorneys at MacQueen & Gottlieb have significant experience with Arizona notaries and are familiar with upcoming changes to legislation. Contact us today at 602-562-7218 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.