By law, a notary must witness a person signing a document in order to perform a notarization. Traditionally this has meant the notary and signer must meet in-person. But this outdated method is rapidly making way for a new service known as remote online notarization.
A remote notary is a legally commissioned notary authorized to perform a notarization remotely over the internet. The notary witnesses the person (or people) signing the document via online video call. Each party signs the document using electronic notarization (also known as e-notarization), which is basically the same as an e-signature.
In 2012, Virginia became the first state to approve remote notarization. Better yet, it gave its notaries the authority to serve a national audience – effectively giving all Americans access to online notary services. Today, four states – Virginia, Montana, Nevada, and Texas – allow remote online notary services. An additional 32 states allow e-notarization but not remote notarization, meaning the notary and signer meet in person but sign the documents electronically, saving time.
The two greatest benefits of using a remote online notary are cost and convenience. Operating online is cheaper than having an office, allowing remote notaries to pass on some of the savings to their clients. As for the convenience factor, who wouldn’t want to get a document notarized online as opposed to driving all the way to some notary’s office?
Many people ask if online notary services are legitimate. The answer is a very clear ‘yes’. It is true that notaries are only authorized to notarize within the jurisdiction defined by their state. However, as this useful blog post from the National Notary Association notes, a notary is permitted to notarize documents sent and/or recorded across state lines – provided the notary performs the notarization within the boundaries of their jurisdiction. In short, you don’t have to be in Virginia (or Montana, Nevada, or Texas) to get a document notarized by a remote notary in Virginia. All that matters is that the notary be in Virginia.
Now that we understand what remote online notarization is and know the difference between a remote notary and e-notary, let’s look at our top 10 service providers. The top 4 providers on this list offer remote notary services to people and businesses who need documents notarized. The next 4 are remote and e-notarization platforms serving notaries and businesses/enterprises that execute notarial acts. The last 2 are industry groups that help match people with remote notaries and e-notaries.
Notarize is the oldest legal remote notary service and has the best overall features. It caters to pretty much everyone, from individuals to businesses to title agents. It has the highest level of security features, including sophisticated ID verification and audit trail for each transaction. And it has the most flexible pricing structure, with a per-notarization fee for individuals and monthly subscriptions and bulk pricing for businesses and title agencies.
NotaryCam earns its position as the second-best online notary service due to its great features and global reach. It caters to individuals and businesses, with volume discounts on offer for notarization of 10 or more documents per month. It uses bank-grade SSL and AES-256 bit encryption to secure your data. It can even notarize documents if you’re abroad, which is great if you find yourself in need of a US notary while stuck far away from a US consulate.
SafeDocs offers individual notarization to the general public although it is best known for supporting the notarization demands of large enterprises. From the perspective of an enterprise, the process of notarizing massive amounts of documents can be very disruptive. SafeDocs has a solution for enterprises through an API that allows documents to be automatically forwarded to SafeDocs for notarization. It serves a range of enterprises, including banks, mortgage lenders, and medical.