A Guide to Remote Online Notarization in Georgia

How does RON work?

This video explains how a notary public performs a remote online notarization with someone.

What's Remote Online Notarization (RON)?

In this video I explain how audio-visual technology is used by certified Remote Online Notaries to notarize documents remotely for clients in the 40+ states where it is legal. I explain how RON (Remote Online Notarization) worked in Georgia when it was legal from March 30, 2020 to April 15, 2022. Watch it now to learn more!

APRIL 15, 2022 - RON Suspended

WE NO LONGER OFFER REMOTE ONLINE NOTARIZATION!

Remote Online Notarization in Georgia was Suspended on April 15, 2022; it was temporarily legal in Georgia due to Covid-19 but is now illegal. HR Bill 334 in Georgia to make Remote Online Notarization permanently legal in Georgia is under review by Congress in Georgia. It has been rejected and has not passed. Subscribe to our newsletter below to Learn More and be up-to-date on Notarial practices and procedures.

On March 31, 2020, Bryan Kemp the Governor of Georgia issued an Executive Order allowing the use of real-time audio-visual communication technology to meet the requirement for physical presence before a notary public with respect to real estate documents, and on April 9, 2020 issued another Executive Order generally allowing remote notarization and attestation of documents during the COVID-19 emergency (currently expiring on August 29, 2021) Remote Online Notarization (RON) in Georgia was Suspended on April 15, 2022.

How Does Remote Online Notarization Work?

As proud Members of the National Notary Association we are happy to provide a clear and concise example of how Remote Online Notarizations work. It is a convenient, safe and secure way to notarize documents to prevent the Spread of Covid-19 and beyond. It was great for our clients in other states or countries that needed a Georgia Notary Public.

What is Remote Online Notarization?

Remote online notarization (RON) refers to the process of having a state of Georgia-licensed notary public notarize a document remotely through the use of electronic signature, identity verification, audio-visual and electronic notarial journal and record keeping technologies.

These technologies enable notaries in Georgia to securely notarize documents for anyone around the world with a valid government issued ID while also saving time and travel for themselves and the parties involved. Instead of meeting in a physical location to sign a paper document, the notary public and the signer can conduct a notarial act on their devices from wherever they happen to be located, as long as their state laws permit.

For anyone who has had to locate and visit a notary public to sign a document, the convenience of RON is obvious. But there are other benefits that RON offers over in-person, paper-based notarization, including:

  1. Increased access to notarial services

  2. Security and enforceability

  3. Reduced risk of identity fraud

  4. Remote Online Notarizations are legal in Georgia

What was the criteria for performing Remote Online Notarizations in Georgia?

More and more states are authorizing the use of RON, a trend that has only accelerated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The criteria for performing RON varies slightly by state, but most legislation includes the following mandates:

  1. Notary commissioned and RON certified with the state of Georgia

  2. Use of audio-visual communication technology

  3. Utilization of credential analysis technology to verify government-issued ID

  4. Application of electronic signatures and electronic seals

  5. Reliance on recordings, electronic journaling (i.e. digital audit trail creation) and storage

  6. Adherence to common data privacy principles

Where is RON legal?

The 40 states with permanent RON laws are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The 7 states with only temporary RON, RIN or video conference notarization rules that will expire include: Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

California and District of Columbia Notaries cannot perform RONs at this time. South Carolina remains silent on the issue. Temporary authorization expired in Connecticut and Georgia. Source Date: MARCH 2022

Is Remote Online Notarization (RON) technology legal and secure in Georgia?    

Just as electronic signature standards have changed over time with the emergence of new technologies, standards governing notarization are evolving. Across the U.S., RON is gaining traction as a convenient and secure way to notarize documents and agreements. There are 40 states that have passed permanent remote online notarization laws. Due to COVID-19, other states like Georgia have issued temporary emergency orders for remote online notarizations. That said, laws can vary between states, so it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the nuances of this new practice and consult with a local attorney if needed.

In Georgia – On March 31, 2020, Bryan Kemp the Governor of Georgia issued an Executive Order allowing the use of real-time audio-visual communication technology to meet the requirement for physical presence before a notary public with respect to real estate documents, and on April 9, 2020 issued another Executive Order generally allowing remote notarization and attestation of documents during the COVID-19 emergency (currently expiring on August 29, 2021) by notaries practicing under the supervision of a Georgia attorney, on June 30, 2021 issued another Executive Order modifying both prior orders and continuing both orders as modified through the COVID-19 emergency, and on July 23, 2021 issued another Executive Order restating the prior orders and continuing through the COVID-19 emergency [updated July 26, 2021]; and the State Bar of Georgia issued general best practices under such order [updated January 4, 2021]; and on March 27, 2020 the Georgia Supreme Court issued an Order temporarily suspending the attorney Rules of Professional Conduct requirements for in person attendance at real estate closings, and enabling Georgia attorneys to participate in real estate closings using audio-video conferencing.

How a Remote Online Notarization Works

  1. The signer contacts the Notary or a RON service provider to request a remote online notarization.

  2. The signer’s document is sent to the Notary so it can be signed and notarized. Typically, the document is uploaded in an electronic format such as PDF to the online technology platform used to perform the remote online notarization.

  3. The signer’s identity is screened according to the requirements of the Notary’s commissioning state. This may include answering questions based on the signer’s personal and credit history (KBA), verifying the signer’s identification documents online (credential analysis), the Notary remotely viewing the signer’s ID during the notarization, or other RON identification methods by statute.

  4. During the remote online notarization, the Notary and the signer communicate online using audiovisual technology — for example, via webcam. The Notary and signer do not meet face to face.

  5. Once the signer's identity has been verified and all other requirements for the notarization have been completed, both the signer and the Notary must sign the document and the Notary's seal attached. For electronic documents, this requires electronic signatures and an electronic version of the Notary's seal.

  6. The Notary records any required information for the Notary's journal records. The Notary must typically also retain an audio and video recording of the notarization session.

  7. The remotely notarized document is returned to the signer. more details about your site, a customer quote, or to talk about important news.

How Law Firms Use Remote Online Notarization

Over a billion documents are notarized each year, a significant portion of which—ranging from powers of attorneys and affidavits to wills and deeds—are included as a service by U.S. law firms. Traditionally, notarizations have been done in-person and on-paper which can be time consuming and inefficient. But in recent years that has begun to change, with the acceptance of remote online notarization (RON). Demand for RON is also accelerating as more individuals transition to remote work and state legislatures continue to pass permanent RON laws and regulations.

Now, well established e-signature and audio-visual technologies have enabled the adoption of remote online notarization (RON), which makes it easier and more efficient for law firms to notarize documents and provide their clients with a better digital experience. RON offers multiple benefits, including a better client experience, increased access for signers, reduced administrative costs, consistent and reliable identification, a more complete record of the notarial transaction; and enhanced privacy, security, and coercion safeguards. It also creates a digital audit trail, which helps notaries public and law firms track notarial activity over time to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

According to (DocuSign 2022) law firms in the U.S. can start modernizing their notarization process today, using remote online notarization. The 3 impact areas in the legal industry include:

#1 - Litigation

In nearly all litigation, an affidavit, which is a written and notarized statement from an individual that is sworn to be true will likely be required to support each party’s filings—allowing the case to proceed. As cases progress, subject to court rules, parties may notarize and file additional documents such as motions and pleadings, which are written requests for the court to make legal rulings. And finally, if the parties reach a settlement agreement, agreeing to a judgment in advance, that document must also be notarized in many cases.

RON solutions eliminate travel, scheduling and other logistical challenges associated with onsite signing for attorneys, who are often faced with strict filing deadlines—to help ensure documents are notarized quickly and accurately.

#2 - Estate Planning

Estate planning attorneys, responsible for helping clients manage their assets, will inevitably create one or more documents requiring notarization during the course of their representation. In many cases, a power of attorney, which is a legal document giving one person the power to act on behalf of another person, may need to be notarized to empower someone to make financial or medical decisions on behalf of the client. The distribution of specific assets such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts may also require a notarized beneficiary designation, which is a legal document describing who shall receive an asset owned by an individual upon their death.

Using RON solutions for these, and other documents can simplify a process that estate planning clients often view as long and burdensome.

#3 - Real Estate

Legal services related to real estate range from simple two-party residential sales to complex multi-party transactions, and because they involve real-property, state, municipal, and other agencies may require related documents to be notarized. For individuals, closing documents such as a deed, which is a legal document transferring ownership of real property from one person to another, will likely need to be notarized. For business clients, commercial leases which are contracts between the owner of a property and a business tenant for commercial activity may also require notarization.

Law firms offering legal services related to real estate can help their clients more efficiently navigate the sale, lease, or transfer of property using RON solutions—enabling them to execute documents from virtually anywhere.

As remote and electronic client services continue to gain acceptance, we expect the applicability of RON will extend to additional business uses and practice areas as a convenient and secure alternative to traditional in-person notarization.

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HB 334 in GEORGIA - RON

HB 334 regulates that legitimacy of Remote Online Notarizations in the state of Georgia. One of the stipulations of the Bill is RON or Remote Online Notarizations becoming permanently legal in Georgia.

21 LC 41 2880 H. B. 334 - 1 - House Bill 334

By: Representatives Gullett of the 19th, Jones of the 25th, Leverett of the 33rd, Kelley of the 16th, and Burchett of the 176th

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT 1 To amend Article 2 of Chapter 6 of Title 15 and Article 1 of Chapter 17 of Title 45 of the 2 Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to clerks of superior courts and general 3 provisions regarding notaries public, respectively, so as to provide for remote online notaries 4 public and remote online notarizations; to provide for and revise definitions; to revise the 5 powers of the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority; to provide for 6 requirements for remote online notaries public and remote online notarization; to provide that 7 the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority may adopt certain standards for 8 remote online notarization; to provide for application and appointment as a remote online 9 notary public; to provide requirements for electronic journaling; to amend Part 1 of Article 10 1 of Chapter 2 of Title 44 and Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50 of the Official Code of 11 Georgia Annotated, relating to recording of deeds and other real property transactions and 12 inspection of public records, respectively, so as to revise recordation standards for deeds and 13 other real property transactions requiring an official and an unofficial witness; to provide for 14 electronic executions; to provide that certain records of remote online notarization processes 15 shall not be subject to public disclosure; to provide for related matters; to provide an 16 effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes. 17 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA

If you want to learn more about the current status of HB 334 and Remote Online Notarization in Georgia                    click the “Learn More” button below!

View Updates on HB 334

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