March 26, 2020
Jennifer B. Barr, Esq.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Orders 107and 108, effective on March 21, 2020, closing non-essential businesses in New Jersey to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Many people are able to continue to work while isolating at home through the use of remote computer access, email, as well as telephonic and video conferencing. However, some sectors of the economy rely on notaries to execute business. Real estate closings and estate planning documents, to name a few, require notarization.
Before the national state of emergency, many states passed legislation to allow remote notarization. Other states, as part of emergency measures, have temporarily authorized remote notarization.
New Jersey has pending legislation awaiting the Governor’s signature that will allow remote notarization. On March 18, 2020, the state legislature passed A3864/S2299. However, this bill, if signed by the Governor, will not take effect for 90 days. In addition, the bill does not apply to wills or to family law matters (divorce, adoption, etc.).
In 2018 another bill was proposed in New Jersey authorizing remote notarization. This bill was not passed in either house but rather was referred to committee.
Federal legislation has been introduced recently that would allow any existing notary public to remotely notarize documents that affect interstate commerce.
Emergency measures are being passed every day across the country. As of March 25, 2020, the following is a list of states that have temporarily allowed remote notarization, and those with pending legislation. Also included is a list of states that have already authorized remote notarization.
New York – Executive Order No. 202.7
New Hampshire – Emergency Order #11
Connecticut – Executive Order 7K
Pennsylvania – (limited to administering oaths remotely) from PA Dep’t of State only for court proceedings (court reporters are notaries)
Wisconsin – order of Department of Financial Institutions
Federal – in response to COVID19, on March 19, 2020, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced S. 3533, the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2020.” This bipartisan legislation permits immediate nationwide use of Remote Online Notarizations (RONs), a type of electronic notarization where the notary and signer are in different physical locations. Here is a copy of the bill.
New Jersey – emergency legislation passed, pending Governor’s signature
Emergency legislation proposed A3864/S2299 passed in both houses on March 18, 2020. https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/A4000/3864_I1.HTM
Previously proposed legislation S-3147/A4860 introduced in 2018 https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/A5000/4860_I1.HTM
Pennsylvania – proposed legislation Senate Bill 0595 introduced April 17, 2017 https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/billinfo.cfm?syear=2017&body=S&type=B&bn=0595
Massachusetts – proposed legislation SD 2882 https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/SD2882
STATES WITH EXISTING REMOTE NOTARIZATION
Florida – as of 1/1/2020 http://laws.flrules.org/files/Ch_2019-071.pdf
Also, the Florida Supreme Court authorized remote notaries to administer oaths during the state of emergency: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/632105/7182680/AOSC20-16.pdf
According to the website NSA Blueprint https://www.notarysigningagentblueprint.com/remote-online-notarization, the following states already permit remote notarization:
Maryland (Senate Bill 678 signed by Governor Hogan in May 2019, effective October 1, 2020)
Nevada (for out of state documents, effective as if signed in NV) https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/Bills/AB/AB413.pdf, signed on June 6, 2017