Remote online notarization has been lurking in the real estate and title industry for quite some time now. But not anymore! The pandemic has forced title agents and attorneys to impliment remote online notarization to make the closing process safer while boosting the client experience as an added advantage. 

Florida, like many other states, has legalized eClosing and remote online notarization to keep the real estate businesses afloat by giving a safe option for clients to close. 

So what are the laws that govern eClosing and RON in Florida? What are the advantages and how do you become an online notary in the state? This is what we are going to discuss. 

What is Remote Online Notarization?

Remote online notarization (RON) is the process of notarizing documents electronically. Using RON, the buyers, sellers, their respective agents, attorney, and other parties sitting at different physical locations can come together to express consent and legally transfer the ownership of the property. 

The attorney applies the notary seal that marks the completion of the transaction. 

With the advent of eClosings, RON is being legalized across the US and Florida is also one of them.

Remote Online Notarization in Florida 

For eClosing and RON to be legal, the first thing that should be legalized is electronic signatures. A 100% virtual closing is impossible unless parties are allowed to electronically sign the legal documents.  

The legality of electronic signatures depends on the state and Florida has legalized all forms of Electronic Signatures. Like many states, Florida has also passed the ESIGN and UETA acts that make electronic signatures valid in the state. 

Let’s look further into UETA and ESIGN. 

Both UETA and ESIGN demand a total of 4 requirements for technology vendors and title companies for the notarized documents to be legal in Florida. These are:

  • An intent to sign the documents electronically.
  • Mutual consent to do business electronically should be expressed by the parties 
  • An option to opt out of the process. 
  • Clear signature association where signed documents should be sent to every party with IP address, the identity of the signing party, date, etc. for the signature association. 
  • Record retention and retrieval, as electronically signed documents, can only be valid if reproduced when required. 

Requirements for Remote Online Notary in Florida

A stack of tools and procedures is required for remote online notarization in Florida. These are:

  • Hardware such as the desktop, video conferencing software, access to electronic signature apps to the parties to conduct the process. 
  • Get the consent of the parties before the process begins. Explain the parties about the documents they are singing.  
  • Set up session recording
  • Verify user’s identity and credentials
  • Store the digital documents in PDF and AV formats

How to Become an Online Notary in Florida?

There are multiple legal aspects to eClosing and RON. In Florida, Statute sections 117.201 to 117.305 allow notaries across counties in Florida to perform RON on the condition that they have undergone a training program. 

The sections also state some requirements to legally conduct online notarization in Florida. These are:

  • The individual must be an active notary public. 
  • Should register with a third-party vendor to provide technical support required to become an online notary. This should be done prior to registering to become an online notary.
  • Should complete a 2-hour course on remote online notarization and receive a certification for registration
  • Pay the registration fee of $10 for the state of Florida. 
  • Obtain a notary bond of $25,000. 

Advantages of Remote Online Notarization

There are many advantages of remote online notarization. These are:

eClosing and RON is Safe. One cannot simply change or manipulate the details including the notary seal or signatures of a digital document unlike a physical one. In the current times, RON’s ability to provide social distancing during the closing process also adds to its 

Hassle-free experience. RON saves the hassle for buyers and sellers to travel or mail physical copies of documents. This adds to their positive experience. 

Saves money. RON saves cost during title search and redoing physical documents and the paperwork needed in general. It also saves costs for the clients, they otherwise incur in mailing the documents. 

If you are a registered notary in Florida and thinking about remote notarization, this may be the right time to go for the training program and become an online notary in Florida.