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Texas: Governor's Temporary Suspension of Appearance Before a Notary Public for Acknowledgment of Real-Estate Instruments; Authorization to Use Audio-Video Communication

Effective April 27, 2020
Remains in effect until effect until the earlier of May 30, 2020 or termination of the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration. 
https://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/notary-public.shtml

As permitted by Texas law (Tex. Gov't Code §418.016) and only for purposes of acknowledging real-estate instruments, the Office of the Governor has temporarily suspended Tex. Civil Practice and Remedies Code Sec. 121.006(c)(1) to enable a signatory (principal signer) to appear before a Texas Notary Public by use of videoconferencing.

Under this suspension, any Texas Notary Public may use videoconferencing technology to perform an acknowledgment notarial act for a remotely located signatory who is executing a tangible (paper) real-estate document. Were it not for this suspension, remote notarization could only be performed by a commissioned Online Notary Public, involving execution of an electronic document.* The suspension does not prevent a traditional (physical-presence) notarization; or an online notarization performed by a commissioned Online Notary Public.

*NOTE: As with any notarial act, a Notary Public officiating under this suspension must perform the customary formalities of notarization. He/she should examine the document (ask the signatory to hold it up to the web camera for inspection); review the notarial certificate to learn which notarial act is required; identify the signatory (discussed below); observe the signatory’s act of signing and administer the verbal ceremony; and complete the notarial certificate (discussed below). The customary recordbook entry must be created. Notarizations performed under this suspension are subject to additional requirements, discussed below.

Notarizations performed under this suspension are subject to the following conditions.

  • A Notary Public must use two-way audio-video communication technology that allows for direct and contemporaneous interaction, by sight and sound, between a person signing a document and the Notary Public.
  • A Notary Public must verify the identity of a signatory at the time the signature is taken by using two-way audio-video communication technology. The Notary Public may verify identity by:
    • personal knowledge of the signatory;
    • analysis based on the signatory’s remote presentation of a government-issued identification credential, including a passport or driver’s license, that contains the signature and a photograph of the signatory, and is of sufficient quality to allow for identification; or
    • an introduction of the signatory by oath of a credible witness who personally knows the signatory, and who is personally known to the Notary Public.
  • During the two-way audio-video communication, the Notary and signatory must audibly speak certain statements, as follows:
    • the Notary Public must attest to being physically located in Texas;
    • the signatory must attest to being physically located in Texas;
    • the signatory must affirmatively state what documents are being signed.
  • Also during the two-way audio-video communication, the signatory’s act of signing must be close enough to the camera for the Notary Public to observe it clearly.
  • The Notary Public must keep a recording of the two-way audio-video communication of the notarial act for two years from the date of the notarial act.
  • The signatory must send the original signed documents by courier, U.S. Mail, or overnight carrier directly to the Notary Public for the Notary Public to sign and to affix the official stamp or seal.
  • The official date and time of the notarization* shall be the date and time when the Notary Public witnessed the signatory signing the documents during the two-way audio-video communication.

    *NOTE: When completing the notarial certificate on the document received by courier, U.S. Mail or overnight carrier, the Notary will indicate the venue as “State of Texas, County of [the name of the county where the Notary was located when performing the notarization].” The certificate’s date of notarization (including the time of day) will be the date of the audio-video communication session with the signatory.

  • The documents must include, whether in a notarial certificate, a jurat, or an acknowledgement, language* substantially similar to the following: “This notarization involved the use of two-way audio-video communication pursuant to the suspension granted by the Office of the Governor on April 27, 2020, under section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code.”

    *NOTE: This language should be written within the notarial certificate, wherever there is appropriate space.

  • Documents acknowledged under the suspension and in accordance with its required terms:
    • Shall be considered duly acknowledged and fully compliant with Texas law after the suspension's termination; and
    • Must be accepted for recording by all Texas county clerks.

 The content of this post 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.