What Is an Online Notary?

Online notarization allows you to meet virtually with a notary public, verify your identity, and authenticate your document anywhere and on any device. Save time and money by notarizing your legal documents with an online notary public.
A notary public is a state-appointed official who attests the validity and proper execution of a signature on a document. Instead of meeting in person, initiate a video call with an online notary public to execute your next document.
In some cases, a contract isn’t legally binding without a notary’s seal or stamp of authentication. Documents that commonly require notarization include:
Depending on your jurisdiction, there may be different laws and regulations for documents that need notarization. Be sure to research the requirements before enforcing your contract.

How much does an online notary cost?

The cost of notary services may vary depending on your type of document. Some states mandate the maximum that an online notary can charge; in Virginia and Texas, they may charge up to $25 for each notarial act.
Generally, online notaries in the United States charge between $20 and $25 for domestic documents and about $80 for international documents. In some cases, online notaries offer discounts on their services when notarizing multiple documents at once.
Some people, such as business owners, may need notarization services many times throughout the year. As such, some online notary services offer monthly and yearly subscription packages that vary from $125 to $400. You may benefit from a subscription if you sign contracts often.

What states allow online notary?

The demand for remote notarization continues to grow as many businesses shift their workplace operations online.
Federal legislation aims to set minimum standards for audio-visual communications and tamper-evident technology to ensure online notary services are as legitimate as in-person services. Plus, the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution allows a notary performed in one state to be legal in any other state. This clause allows someone in any state to notarize their document online.
Many states and federal agencies have enacted regulations for remote online notarization (RON) as well. Regulations on authentication processes and record-keeping may vary, but state laws generally:
  • Allow audio-video communication with notary publics
  • Allow you to work with a notary public online, even when you live outside the state where the notary has authority
  • Outline an identity authentication process
  • Require a recording of the communication
  • Require notaries to keep records for a set time
Check your state’s government website to see if they allow RON. If your state doesn’t typically allow RON, check to see if they’ve enacted any executive orders that temporarily allow RON under specific guidelines. Otherwise, you can notarize your document with an online notary in any state that does allow RON.

How do I notarize a document online?

Remote notarization is relatively similar to the traditional process, except that the face-to-face meeting happens through your webcam. In general, the steps to online notarization are as follows:
  1. First, upload your contract or form to the online notary service platform.
  2. Next, the notary service verifies your identity. This verification process varies by state, but methods include personal knowledge, credible witnesses, and government-issued identification cards.
  3. The notary public witnesses you electronically sign the document through a live cam feed.
  4. The notary often affixes their seal and signature with digital tools and implements tamper-evident technology to the document. To help prevent fraud, this technology encrypts the document so that any changes made after the notarization will be known.

Online identity verification processes

With knowledge based authentication, you must answer computer-generated questions about your history that only you should know. For instance, questions may ask about your past addresses, mortgage balances, or credit history. In some states, you must answer most or all of the questions correctly within a time limit.
A credible witness may confirm your identity in some states, but some stipulations may apply. For example, in Michigan, your witness must personally know both you and the notary public. However, it’s important to note that the majority of online notary platforms don’t accept credible witness verification.
Most services also require you to present a government-issued photo ID. Services often ask you to scan or take a picture of your ID card. The service then runs your ID through an automated credential analysis tool. This tool ensures your ID has all the proper security elements and information. Once verified, you’ll connect with the notary public, who confirms that your face matches your ID’s picture.

Where can I find an online notary service?

To find a notary public and commissioner of oaths office in your area, perform a simple web search. Many of these offices will likely offer remote services.
However, thanks to the growing availability of online notaries, you aren’t limited to the services in your area. As mentioned, new laws allow you to access notary publics online even when you live outside of the state where the notary has authority. Just be sure that the notarization processes comply with your state’s laws and requirements.
Check out these services to see what works best for you:

How do I become an online notary?

To become an online notary, you must meet the traditional requirements set out by your secretary of state. Commonly, you must be a resident, at least 18 years old, and never been convicted of a felony crime.
If you meet the requirements, take the following steps to become an online notary:
  1. Fill out a notary commission application and register to perform remote online notarizations. You may need to pay state application fees.
  2. Some states require you to take RON training and to pass an exam. You may need a surety bond or errors and omissions insurance as well.
  3. Purchase the supplies needed (such as an electronic seal and digital certificate).
  4. Sign up with an online notary platform to connect with signers across the country and start earning an income from the comfort of home.
Your state may require a bond or insurance because notaries have great legal authority. Any notary mistakes can cause serious harm to a signer, so bonds and insurance can offer protection to all the parties involved (i.e., the notary, the state, and the signer).
Ready to create your first free legal document?
Know someone who could benefit from this information? Pass it along.