A notary public is authorized to notarize signatures. They are not proving that the content of a document is true or genuine. They are simply witnessing and approving the signature itself. In the past, the notary and the person signing needed to be in the same room.
However, with Colorado’s new rules, a notary may notarize a document (attesting that the signature is genuine) remotely. The conditions of remote notarization are set forth below. After reading them, one must wonder if this is even worth it. Time will tell. Among other things, the entire transaction must be recorded, including a litany of statements about the event. The recording must then be saved for 10 years. While remote notarization may be the future, the future looks to be a major hassle including, the obligation of paying remote notary providers for the privilege of letting them record (and possibly even sell) the notary data.
The conditions of remote notarization in Colorado
NOTARY MUST BE APPROVED FOR REMOVE SERVICES
A notary must be approved as a remote notary before they may perform remote notarizations. You must already be an approved notary and be in the Secretary of State’s online database BEFORE you may apply to become a remote notary. This includes taking the remote notary training and exam.
A notary public Is NOT allowed to perform remote services unless approved as a remote notary. So too, no notary MUST become a remote notary. The notary can decide if they want to take this step. In addition, any notary has the right to refuse to notarize something for any reason, or for no reason at all. See section 24-21-508, C.R.S.
AN APPROVED PROVIDER’S TECHNOLOGY RECORDS THE NOTARIZATION
A notary must use a “provider” that offers the technology to record the notarization. Providers must be approved with the Secretary of State before offering remote notary services in the state of Colorado. The current list of approved providers is kept on the Secretary of State website. Before performing a remote notarization, it is the notary’s responsibility to verify that the provider technology allows the audio-video recording and storage of the remote notarization and otherwise complies with existing remote notarization requirements. Most providers will charge for services.
RECORDING MUST BE DONE IN REAL TIME
A notary cannot simply notarize a document after watching a previously recorded or taped audio-video recording of a person signing or acknowledging a document. The notary must witness the act in “real-time.” The notary and the remotely located signing party must be able to “see and hear each other substantially simultaneously and without interruption or disconnection.” The entire interaction, including the remote notarization, must be recorded.
RECORDING MUST BE APPROVED BY SIGNING PARTIES AND SECURELY STORAGE
The notary must record each remote notarization in their tamper-evident electronic journal unless the notary meets all of the statutory exception requirements in section 24-21-519(10)(c), C.R.S. Additionally, the notary must include the provider used for the remote notarization. Notaries keeping a paper journal will need to keep an additional tamper-evident electronic journal for remote notarizations.
The remote notarization must be recorded and the audio-video recording must be securely stored for 10 years. The recording may be stored using the same methods as the journal.
Recording the remote notarization is NOT optional. A notary may NOT perform a remote notarization if the remotely located individual does not want or agree to be recorded. Before actually recording the notarization, the notary public must first tell the remotely located individual that the notarization will be recorded and the details of its storage, including where and for how long it will be stored. The remote notary must also obtain the remotely located individual’s verbal agreement to both the recording and storage of the recording.
RECORDING RECITALS, SIGNATURES AND STAMPS FOLLOW PROTOCOL
The remote notary must make sure that the audio-video recording contains the notary’s name, the date and time of the notarial act, a description of all documents being signed, remotely located individual’s name, the identity of any required credible witness, the method of identification (Colorado driver license, personal knowledge, credible witness, etc.) Moreover, there are rules for validating the ID presented remotely and a further litany of statements to be made on the recording including a statement that the remote party’s actions are “knowingly and voluntarily made,” details about how the transaction is recorded and stored, confirmation of the consent to recording and storage, and confirmation that the signatures are signed simultaneously.
In performing a remote notarization, the notary public must only use the notarial certificates authorized by RULONA, sections 24-21-515 and -516, C.R.S. The certificate must also indicate that the notary performed the notarial act using audio-video technology.
The remote notary’s signature should be a digitized copy of their most recent signature on file with the Secretary of State. The remote notary’s seal should exactly match their wet stamp seal used for notarizing in person.
WILLS ARE NOT APPROVED FOR REMOTE NOTARIZATION
Unfortunately, a notary may NOT remotely notarize a will, codicil, document purporting to be a will or codicil, or any acknowledgment required under Section 15-11-502 or 15-11-504, C.R.S. for estate planning.
Fortunately, at Andersen Law PC, we have MANY options including mobile notaries, drive-through will signings, and will signings witnessed through a glass wall within our office that allow SAFE will signings in the time of COVID and WITHOUT a remote notary.
REAL ESTATE DOCUMENTS MAY BE REMOTELY NOTARIZED
Notaries CAN remotely notarize real estate deeds and other real estate documents.
THE NOTARY MUST BE IN COLORADO
A remote notary may NOT perform a remote notarization if the remote notary is physically located outside the state of Colorado. However, they MAY perform a remote notarization for a remotely located individual who is physically outside the state of Colorado as long as the notary is within the borders of Colorado.
FEES APPLY AS WITH IN-PERSON
As with in-person notarization, the notary may charge up to $10 for a remote notarial act. See section 24-21-529(2), C.R.S.
E-NOTARY VS. REMOTE NOTARY
The Secretary of State website has the following chart regarding remote notary and e-notary (e-notary, hmmm, that’s a topic for another day.). You can see how the two function differently.
|Electronic notarization||Remote notarization|
|Electronic notarization requires that the Colorado notary public and the person for whom the notarial act is being performed be in the same room.||While the notary public must still be in Colorado, the notary public is not in the same location as the individual for whom the notarial act is performed.|
|Requires the document to be signed electronically, in most cases looking at a computer or other viewing screen.||Requires the document to be signed electronically with the notary and remotely located individual in separate locations.|
|Does not use audio-video communication.||Requires the use of real time audio-video communication.|
|Requires the notary to include a special Document Authentication Number (DAN) received from the Secretary of State’s office on each electronic notarization.||The use of a remote notarization provider’s system (provider) is required so that the notary can simultaneously witness in real time what is taking place, i.e., the signing or acknowledging a document.|