Know with whom and what you are dealing...
You are here: Coverage Area > Virginia News
Virginia Bill Impacts Signing of Electronic Notaries
March 1, 2011
Virginias legislature passed a bill that allows a document to be electronically notarized when the signer is not present if satisfactory evidence of the identity is established.
Virginia House Bill 2318 now awaits the governors signature.
The bill also allows satisfactory evidence to be based on video or audio conference technology, in accordance with the standards for electronic video and audio communications, that permits the notary to communicate with and identify the principal at the time of the notarial act. The legislation enactment clause establishes that provisions relating to the use of video and audio conference technology will be effective July 1, 2012.
According to the bill, "satisfactory evidence of identity" means identification of an individual based on:
* examination of one or more of the following documents bearing a photographic image of the individual's face and signature: a United States Passport, a certificate of United States citizenship, a certificate of naturalization, an unexpired foreign passport, an alien registration card with photograph, a state issued driver's license or a state issued identification card or a United States military card; or
* the oath or affirmation of one credible witness unaffected by the document or transaction who is personally known to the notary and who personally knows the individual or of two credible witnesses unaffected by the document or transaction who each personally knows the individual and shows to the notary documentary identification.
In the case of an electronic notarization, the bill states "satisfactory evidence of identity" may be based on video and audio conference technology, in accordance with the standards for electronic video and audio communications, that permits the notary to communicate with and identify the principal at the time of the notarial act, provided that such identification is confirmed by (a) personal knowledge, (b) an antecedent in-person identity proofing process in accordance with the specifications of the Federal Bridge Certification Authority, or (c) a valid digital certificate accessed by biometric data or by use of an interoperable Personal Identity Verification card that is designed, issued, and managed in accordance with the specifications published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Federal Information Processing Standards Publication, "Personal Identity Verification (PIV) of Federal Employees and Contractors."
The Virginia Land Title Association had concerns with the legislation because it initially provided no fraud prevention safeguards, but was satisfied by the added language that requires audio and video conferencing technology to be in accordance with the standards developed for remote witness testimony in court. According to VLTA, the additional language increases the level of certainty because it requires that the communication must be simultaneous; the signal must be live and in real time; and the transmission must be "secure."
The bill lists several items a notary is prohibited from doing.
A notary shall not:
* Notarize a document if the signer is not in the presence of the notary at the time of notarization, unless in the case of an electronic notarization, satisfactory evidence of the identity of the signer is established otherwise authorized by law to do so.
* Use the official notary title or seal to endorse, promote, denounce, or oppose any product, service, contest, candidate, or other offering.
* Notarize a signature on a document without notarial certificate wording on the same page as the signature unless the notarial certificate includes the name of each person whose signature is being notarized.
* Affix an official signature or seal on a notarial certificate that is incomplete.
* A notary shall not perform any official act with the intent to deceive or defraud.
* A non-attorney notary shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting, or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act. This section does not preclude a notary who is duly qualified, trained, or experienced in a particular industry or professional field from selecting, drafting, completing, or advising on a document or certificate related to a matter within that industry or field or prevent a notary from adding a notarial certificate or electronic notarial certificate to a paper or electronic document at the direction of a principal or lawful authority.