5.21.2020 Emergency Rules/Exceptions related to RON during Covid-19 (NNA Update on 5.20.2020)

Many states have issued special rules regarding the use of RON in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We encourage all notaries to review their state-specific rules as they provide temporary exceptions to notary laws (for example, Mississippi has not enacted any laws permitting Remote Online Notarization but has issued a special order permitting Remote Online Notarization during Covid-19).

New information on Alaska, California, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and Vermont. Below is an excerpt from NNA article:

Alabama Allows Video Notarizations For Notaries

On April 2, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has issued an amended proclamation permitting all Alabama Notaries to notarize using videoconferencing in lieu of personal appearance, using the following guidelines:

  • The Notary must maintain a record of the audiovisual communication for a period of five years following the date the recording is noted in the Notary’s journal.

  • Any persons who witnesses a document through videoconference technology may be considered an “in-person” witness, provided that the presence and identity of such witnesses are validated by the Notary at the time of the signing by the same identifications required under current law.

  • The official date and time of the notarization shall be the date and time when the Notary witnesses the signature via the videoconference technology. All documents must be returned to the Notary for certification and execution.

  • Any notarizations performed under section III of the previous March 26, 2020 governor’s proclamation remain valid.

The order assumes the document will be executed on paper and sent to the Notary for a remote inked-sign notarization (RIN), who will then complete the required certificate wording with the date the Notary, signatory and any witnesses appeared before each other using videoconferencing technology. The order is in full force and effect until the public health emergency brought on by COVID-19 is rescinded or extended by another proclamation by the Governor.

Alaska Permits Video Witnessing Of Wills Before Notaries

Alaska has added a provision to the recently enacted Senate Bill 241 which temporarily allows a testator who signs a last will, witnesses to the will and a Notary to appear before each other using videoconference technology. Usually, a Notary will notarize the affidavits of a last will, making the last will self-proving. Senate Bill 241 requires the witnesses to sign a prescribed statement under penalty of perjury that is then added to the will. Then up to 60 days thereafter another prescribed statement must be signed by the witnesses under penalty of perjury and added to the original will or an exact facsimile of the original will. The new law is effective until March 11, 2021.

Arizona Authorizes RON, ‘Defers’ Driver’s License Expiration Dates

As part of an executive order issued by Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Notaries are authorized to perform remote online notarizations as of April 10 instead of on July 1 when the new RON statutes and RON ruleswere to take effect. Noteworthy among the rules to perform RONs:

  • Arizona Notaries must register to perform remote online notarizations and must comply with all requirements for electronic notarizations in the state and must re-register each time they renew their commission.

  • Notaries must submit information about the technology vendor they plan to use for performing RONs when registering with the Secretary of State’s office. If the Notary intends to use a different technology vendor than the one originally submitted with the Notary’s registration, an amendment to the Notary’s application must be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office.

  • The Notary must identify a signer for a RON through one of the following options: (a) personal knowledge; (b) multi-factor authentication that must include remote presentation of an ID to the Notary, credential analysis by a reputable third party and knowledge-based authentication or (c) the oath or affirmation of a credible witness who personally  knows the signer and can be identified by the Notary through personal knowledge or the multi-factor authentication process described above.

  • The communication technology used for RON must provide synchronous audiovisual feeds and sufficient video resolution and audio clarity for the Notary and signer to see and speak with each other. It also must provide reasonable security to prevent unauthorized access to the live transmission of the audiovisual feed, the methods used to verify the signer’s identity or the electronic record being notarized.

  • The notarial certificate used for the RON must state “This remote online notarization involved the use of communication technology.”

  • The Notary must keep one or more electronic journals and an audiovisual recording of each RON in a computer or other electronic storage device and protect the electronic journal and recording from unauthorized access with a password or cryptographic process. The journal must be retained for at least 5 years after the last remote online notarization recorded in the journal.

  • The audiovisual recording of the RON may not include images of the electronic document that was the subject of the notarization and must be retained by the Notary for at least 5 years after being made.

  • The Notary must take reasonable steps to ensure that a backup of the electronic journal and audiovisual recordings exists and is secured from unauthorized use

The Arizona Governor issued Executive Order 2020-08 ordering the state Department of Transportation to defer for 6 months the renewal requirement for people with driver’s licenses and driving permits set to expire between March 1 and September 1 of this year. Law enforcement, state agencies and county and local governments must accept these IDs for the 6-month period.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s office confirmed to the NNA that Arizona Notaries may accept as identification for a notarial act a driver’s license covered under the Governor’s Executive Order.

Arkansas Permits Limited Use Of Audiovisual Technology For Notarizations

Arkansas has issued an executive order effective March 30 allowing certain limited Notaries to perform notarizations using real-time audiovisual means. The order permits audio and visual conference technology to replace the physical presence requirement in Arkansas when signing and notarizing paper documents. The signer and Notary must both be in the state at the time of notarization. However, only Arkansas Notaries who meet the following qualifications are allowed use audio and visual technology in place of personal appearance:

  • Notaries who are attorneys licensed to practice law in Arkansas

  • Notaries who are licensed Arkansas title agents

  • Notaries who are supervised by a licensed Arkansas attorney or licensed Arkansas title agent

  • Notaries employed by a financial institution registered with the Arkansas State Bank Department

California Extends Expiration Dates For Driver’s Licenses, Notary Commissions During COVID-19

UPDATE 5-11-20: On May 8, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-63-20 which impacts California Notaries during the COVID-19 emergency in the following ways:

1. The commission term for any California Notary whose commission has expired since March 1, 2020 or whose commission is scheduled to expire in the next 60 days (or until July 6, 2020), is extended for an additional 60 days.

2. A Notary whose commission is extended under the Governor’s order as described above must add the following information when completing a notarization during the extension period: “The notary commission extended pursuant to Executive Order N-63-20.”

3. A Notary whose commission is extended under the Governor’s Order must maintain a valid surety bond during the extension. Notary bonds purchased through the NNA will be automatically extended to coincide with the extended dates of their commissions at no cost for those Notaries affected by the Governor’s Order.

4. Civil Code 1185(b)(3)(A) requiring that an identification card or driver’s license issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles be current or issued within the last 5 years in order to serve as satisfactory evidence of identity for a notarial act, is suspended for 60 days with respect to any California identification card or driver’s license showing an expiration date of March 1, 2020, or later.


UPDATE 5-7-20: The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced in press releases on April 1 and April 14 that driver’s license expirations dates would be extended in California for the following individuals:

  • Seniors 70 years of age and older whose noncommercial driver’s licenses expire between March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020, are given a 120-day extension to their driver’s licenses expiration date. The DMV will mail affected seniors a paper extension.

  • Californians under 70 who driver’s licenses expire between March 2020 and May 2020 will have their license expiration date extended to May 31, 2020. These drivers also have the option to request a free temporary paper extension online through the DMV’s Virtual Field Office to document extension.

After receiving messages from California Notaries who were unsure if they can accept an ID with an extended expiration date as proof of signer identity under these conditions, the NNA reached out to the California Secretary of State's office for confirmation. The Secretary of State's Notary Public Section responded to the NNA saying that the Department of Motor Vehicles extension of California driver's licenses during this pandemic qualifies these licenses to be considered "current" pursuant to Civil Code section 1185(b)(3)(A), and can be used by California Notaries to establish identity of an individual executing a document. — The Editors

If a Notary is presented with a California driver’s license bearing an expiration date from March 1, 2020, through May 31, 2020, the Notary should check for the correct date on the ID, understanding that the extension applies to the expiration date only. 

 Second, Notaries must know if the individual requesting the notarial act and presenting a driver’s license as satisfactory evidence of identity is under 70 years of age. These individuals may or may not have a paper extension documenting that their license is extended through May 31, 2020. If the individual has an extension, the Notary should ask to see both the driver’s license itself and the paper extension. If the individual does not have a paper extension, the Notary may accept the license through May 31, 2020.

Third, for persons requesting notarial services who are 70 years of age and older, the Notary should request to see both the driver’s license itself and the extension mailed to the bearer by the DMV. The extension will show the actual license extension date.

Fourth, the NNA recommends that Notaries note in their journals that the ID presented was extended by the Department of Motor Vehicle’s April 1, 2020, press release (for persons 70 and older) or April 14, 2020, press release (for persons under 70).

While Notaries of all U.S. states could technically accept an expired California driver’s license under the DMV’s press releases, the NNA recommends that these Notaries do so only if their state laws permit it and they follow the guidance provided above.

Colorado Authorizes RON Through April 30

Under a Colorado executive order effective March 27, the physical presence requirement for notarizations in Colorado has been suspended. The executive order has been extended through  April 30, 2020. However, election-related documents such as circulator petitions and voting petitions may not be notarized using RON The Secretary of State has been authorized to issue temporary emergency rules for remote notarizations..