Remote Online Notarization (RON) in Florida: How It Works January 13, 2020 / RON
In June 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 409 into law. The law authorized the use of remote online notarization (RON), which has reshaped how notarial acts can be executed in the state. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
But what exactly is a remote online notarization, and how is it different from a traditional or electronic notarization (e-notarization)? Learn more about RON, its benefits and the requirements for becoming an online notary public.
What Is RON and How Does It Work?
Remote online notarization allows individuals, banks, law firms and other businesses to connect with a notary over the internet. Authorized online notaries in Florida can now notarize electronic documents for clients located anywhere in the United States over a secure audio-video connection.
The entire video chat, including identity verification and the notarization of documents, is recorded in real time and saved for future reference. Documents are signed and stamped digitally and then stored online. The notary's journal of remote online notarizations is also 100% digital.
Become an Online Notary
Our Florida Online Notary package includes everything you need to get started:
- $25,000 notary bond
- $25,000 errors and omissions insurance
- Online RON training course
You'll also receive an official application form that is pre-filled with your personal information.
What Is a RON Service Provider?
Software companies called RON service providers handle all the technology and support you need for online notarizations. They typically offer notaries a secure audio-video platform, advanced identity proofing and credential analysis, and long-term document storage.
RON service providers offer a range of services to online notaries, including:
- Provide desktop or smartphone applications that facilitate the signing
- Perform identity proofing and credential analysis
- Set up and capture the audio-video recording
- Store the audio-video recording and digital documents
- Collect payment from the signer
Some companies provide an all-in-one application that lets clients find an online notary, upload and sign documents, and connect with the notary over video chat.
The online platforms, as well as their services and prices, may differ from provider to provider. So it's wise to research several options and choose the company that best fits your needs.
When you submit your RON application to the state, you must list the RON service provider you will work with. You're free to switch RON service providers at any time, but you must notify the state of the change.
Differences Between RON and Other Types of Notarizations
In 2007, Florida notaries were first authorized to perform e-notarizations, in which the notary uses an electronic signature to notarize a digital document. But notaries are required to follow the same procedures for e-notarizations as with paper notarizations.
Now, with remote online notarizations, signers and witnesses are no longer required to be in the same room — or even the same state — as the notary. Due to interstate recognition practices, a remotely notarized document may be used in other states, just as with a traditional notarization.
For example, an online notary located in Florida can connect with a principal in California to notarize a document that will be used in Texas. And the signing of that document can be witnessed by a person in Oregon. However, online notaries in Florida must be physically located in Florida to perform a RON.
Remote online notaries must follow all rules for traditional notaries, along with a few new rules and procedures. If the item to be notarized is a will, trust, health care directive, waiver of spousal rights or power of attorney for financial transactions, the principal must answer a defined series of questions prior to the notarization.
Further, if the document is a will, additional requirements apply regarding how the recorded video session must be stored.
Steps to a Remote Online Notarization
The RON law lists specific requirements and standards for how remote online notarizations must be performed in Florida.
The process typically works as follows:
- A person or business uploads documents to be signed and notarized
- The RON platform notifies the online notary that the documents are ready
- The signer accesses the RON platform and begins the authentication process
- The notary starts a recorded video chat session with the signer and any witnesses
- The notary completes identity validation and credential analysis
- The signer digitally signs the documents, and the notary performs an electronic notarization
- The signer and/or business entity receive copies of the notarized documents
- A copy of the audio-video recording, including the authentication process and details about the signer, witnesses and documents, is uploaded to the notary's digital journal
- The RON service provider stores the video recording and related data in compliance with Florida law
An online notary that is registered with the Department of State can perform any notarial act over an audio-video connection except solemnizing a marriage.
Benefits of RON for Florida Notaries and Their Clients
Online notarizations provide a more modern and convenient option for people who require notary services. The convenience of RON extends to the notary as well.
Scheduling a signing is much simpler when all parties involved do not need to be present in the same room. You can simply agree on a day and time that works best for everyone's schedule regardless of their location.
Other benefits of RON include:
- Allows you to perform remote notarizations without having to travel
- Simplifies the signing process and improves efficiency
- Reduces fraud risk with robust identity proofing and credential analysis
- Connects you with clients who prefer to do business online
- Eliminates paperwork
- Offers added security; digital documents are less likely to be lost, stolen or damaged
- Provides fully digital records of your notarizations
While Florida notaries are not required to become online notaries, RON provides an array of benefits that could help you expand your business.
Requirements for Becoming a Florida Online Notary
Any commissioned notary in Florida can apply to become an online notary. To be approved, you must meet some additional requirements.
To become an online notary in Florida, you must:
- Be an actively commissioned Florida notary
- Complete a two-hour training course on RON
- Obtain a $25,000 notary bond
- Obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy of at least $25,000
- Apply to the Department of State using an approved bonding agency
- Choose a state-compliant RON service provider for audio-video communication and identity proofing
- Pay a $10 state registration fee
Once all the requirements are met, you can submit your application to the state. The Department of State will contact you directly once you're approved.
States that Allow Online Notarizations
Virginia was the first state to authorize RON in 2014. By January 2020, more than 20 states have authorized RON or are in the process of enacting RON laws.
These states include:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Because interest in RON is rising across the country, it is likely that this list will continue to grow.