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COVID-19 Notarization Procedures - Social Distancing With Physically Present Principals

The following content was provided by the American Society of Notaries. ASN is the nation's original non-profit association that exists to provide its members with education, professional service and technical support; promoting high ethical standards; and increasing public awareness of notaries' valuable contributions.

 

To fight the spread of coronavirus, Notaries in many states are temporarily authorized to perform notarial acts using audio-visual technology instead of requiring the physical presence of the principal signer. (To see ASN's list of known state waivers/suspensions of the physical presence requirement, click here.)

For Notaries whose states have not temporarily waived or suspended the physical presence requirement, American Society of Notaries offers these social distancing procedures for consideration.
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PLEASE NOTE--adoption of these procedures is at your discretion. They do not guarantee anyone's safety from coronavirus threats.

These procedures should be used only while your jurisdiction requires or recommends social distancing as a coronavirus safety measure, and only if they do not conflict with guidelines, if applicable, issued by your state commissioning officer.

When notarizing for a physically present principal:

  • Wear protective items such as a mask and gloves.
  • Ensure that you and the principal signer each have your own pen; avoid sharing a single pen.
  • Maintain the recommended distance of at least 6 feet away from the principal at ​all times.
  • While maintaining distance, ensure you have a direct line of sight with the principal at all times and can clearly communicate verbally with him or her. Examples include being at opposite ends of a long table or porch; or being separated by a see-through panel (glass or other clear material). The setup must allow the document(s) and identification credentials to be passed back and forth without hampering full and clear visual observation of the principal signer and clear verbal communication.
  • When passing documents and ID credentials back and forth, each person should place the document or credential at a central exchange point and step back to allow the other to retrieve the item(s) while maintaining the recommended 6-foot distance. For every necessary action on the document (for example, your review of the document to observe the required notarial act and document completeness), the entire document should be passed back-and-forth between the you and the principal, every time.
  • Remember the requirements for acknowledgments and oaths/affirmations (jurats, verifications):
    • If the notarial act is an acknowledgment, the document may be signed in the Notary's presence or sometime before. In both circumstances the signer must verbally acknowledge his or her signature to the Notary.
    • If the notarial act is an oath/affirmation (jurat, verification), the Notary must witness the principal's signature. The Notary will then administer the oath/affirmation verbally to the principal.
    • When witnessing the principal's signature, always ensure that your view is clear and unobstructed.
  • Complete the notarial certificate while in line-of-sight with the principal. Maintain possession of the document until the journal entry is signed (next).
  • Complete the journal entry while in line-of-sight with the principal, then place the journal at the central exchange point. The principal will sign the journal and leave it at the central exchange point for you to retrieve. When retrieving the journal, place the document at the central exchange point for the principal to retrieve.
  • If charging a fee for your notarial act(s), allow the principal to place payment at the central exchange point. Consider asking in advance for a check to minimize exchanging cash back-and-forth. Retrieve payment and leave change (if applicable) and a receipt for the principal to retrieve.

Before implementing these procedures, Notary Signing Agents should check for any similar procedures required by the signing company, title company or lender associated with the transaction.