Are you considering a rewarding career as a notary, or do you want to expand your current business? Do you want the flexibility of doing either virtually? If so, you will want to learn the practicalities of becoming a virtual notary before taking the first steps in either direction.
A virtual notary in Florida is not limited to their city, county, or even their state. Notary documents can appear from locations all over the country, and remote online notarization can be accomplished. However, you must be physically located in Florida while performing notarial acts.
The process of becoming a notary is fairly simple and not too time-consuming. This comprehensive guide will help you learn more about the process, what you are allowed to do, and what to expect.
Virtual Notary Process
Before becoming a virtual notary in Florida, you will first need to meet the requirements of a traditional notary. If you’re a notary with an active commission, then you already meet this requirement. To be a notary, you must be at least 18 years old and a Florida resident with no felonies on your criminal record. Florida law also requires a three-hour training course.
Once you become a traditional notary, you’re on your way to becoming a virtual notary.
The next step is to complete a two-hour training course that covers how to perform remote online notarization, including technology requirements. You can take this course in person or online. Once completed, make sure to obtain a certificate of completion so you can attach it to your application.
From start to finish, it can take about six weeks to become a virtual notary in Florida. It takes around four weeks to become a traditional notary. If you’re already a notary, then the process will be fairly quick. You’ll just need to complete the application, which you’ll send to the Florida Department of State, along with a $10 registration fee.
To simplify the process, you can obtain a registration packet that includes a registration form, a list of providers, and a link to an education course. You’ll also receive information about the required bond and insurance.
How to Legally Notarize Documents Online
If you plan to become a virtual notary, you must follow the proper procedures. The customer and notary do not have to appear together in person, but they must meet in real-time using audio-video technology. They need to follow all the same rules as they would if they were notarizing the documents in person.
The steps to legally notarize documents online include the following:
- Documents are uploaded to the remote online notarization provider.
- The virtual notary is notified that documents are ready.
- The customer logs onto a platform that requires them to pass a knowledge-based questionnaire.
- The customer will have their credential documents analyzed for fraud.
- The customer meets with the notary on camera once their identity has been verified.
- The notary gets proof of identity from the customer.
- The customer signs the required places on the document, confirming that they are aware of what they are signing.
- The notary checks the documents.
- Once it has been confirmed that the documents have been properly filled out and signed, the notary attaches an electronic seal and a digital certificate that includes their electronic signature.
- The notary completes their electronic journal and saves a recording of the transaction.
What Can a Remote Notary Do?
A virtual notary is authorized to perform a variety of notarial acts remotely or in person. This includes the following:
- Administering oaths and affirmations
- Taking acknowledgments
- Executing jurats, which are verifications confirming the truthfulness of documents
- Verifying the authenticity of signatures on wills, car titles, real estate deeds, and other documents that require notarization
- Notarizing documents from other states or countries
- Notarizing foreign documents (as long as the client understands the document)
- Act as both witness and notary for the same document
Benefits of Remote Notarization
Many people are taking advantage of the diverse benefits of remote notarization. Here are some reasons why notaries and clients prefer it over traditional in-person services:
- It’s convenient. Documents can get notarized without anyone leaving their homes. This is helpful when there are weather or transportation issues. Maybe one of the parties is sick and can’t leave their home.
- It’s quick and easy. If you’re technologically savvy, the process is fairly easy. In under 10 minutes, you can have documents notarized.
- It’s secure. All remote notarizations are recorded, so if there’s ever a dispute, you can just refer to the recording to see what happened. This makes remote notarization more secure than one done in person.
- It can grow your business. As a virtual notary, being able to perform remote notarizations increases your business opportunities. You can add clients and make more money.
What States Allow Remote Notarization?
Currently, 34 states allow remote notarization, with Florida being one of them. The others are:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
New Jersey will allow remote notarization on October 21, 2021. Illinois, Kansas, and New Mexico will allow remote notarization effective January 1, 2022. Louisiana will also allow it, with an effective date of February 1, 2022.
What Technology Is Needed for Remote Notarization?
Virtual notaries in Florida will need a computer, microphone, webcam, and secure internet connection. The computer must also be able to support two-way audio and visual communication.
When it comes to the required technology for remote notarization, each state is different. A state may establish certain technical standards and requirements. While Florida does not have any specific technical requirements, you cannot use apps such as FaceTime or Skype. You still have the option to choose from many providers that offer remote notarization systems, such as:
These service providers simplify the remote notarization process. They offer technology and support for online notarizations and provide various services such as:
- Providing applications that facilitate the signing
- Performing identity proofing and credential analysis
- Providing a secure audio-video platform
- Storing the audio-video recording and digital documents
- Collecting payment from the customer
As a virtual notary in Florida, it’s up to you to choose the provider that fits your needs and offers the services you desire. You can sign up with one or more of these companies to get the technology you need to perform remote notarizations. Florida allows you to use multiple providers as long as you inform the Department of State of your chosen vendors and alert the agency to any changes.
Besides proper technology, a virtual notary in Florida requires other supplies to do the job. You’ll need an electronic journal, an electronic seal, and a digital certificate with your electronic signature. These digital materials may be included when you choose one of the providers listed above.
You’ll also need a surety bond. Traditional notaries already have a $7,500 bond, but if you want to become a virtual notary in Florida, you’ll need to increase the amount to $25,000. You’ll also require an Errors and Omissions insurance policy for $25,000.
Membership with the Florida Notary Association is not a requirement, but it’s good to have. It comes with many features to help you make your job easier. Membership includes newsletters, downloadable tools, members-only discounts, and even free stamps and manuals.
Is Remote Notarization the Same as Electronic Notarization?
The terms “remote notarization” and “electronic notarization” might be used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Electronic notarization means that the document is signed and notarized electronically. However, the customer and notary still have to appear before each other in person. On the other hand, remote notarization is when the entire transaction is performed fully online through audio-video technology. Neither party is required to appear in person.
Contact Us Today
Becoming a notary is a job opportunity that allows for flexibility. You can be your own boss! The Florida Notary Association can help you become a virtual notary in Florida. Take the course and become an official online notary. Getting started is quick and simple. Contact the Florida Notary Association today to learn more about the process!