Washington allows remote notarization due to COVID-19

Governor Inslee issued a proclamation this week allowing for remote notarization from March 27 to April 26, 2020, in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic. 

Under the new law, notary services can occur virtually through audio-visual technology such as Skype, Zoom, or similar programs. 

Many businesses that provide notary services, like banks, are considered essential in Washington and remain open during the current stay-at-home order.  However, social-distancing guidelines and the need for vulnerable populations to isolate themselves make notarizing a document (which traditionally requires being in the same room with the notary) very difficult.

The Governor’s proclamation states that the remote notarization law is being given immediate effect because “many professional services require the use of notary services for a variety of purposes that impact our vulnerable populations, including the need for advanced healthcare directives, wills, deeds of trust, durable powers of attorney for health care, irrevocable trusts or living trusts, real estate transfers, consents to travel documents for minors, adoptions, and affidavits of identity….”

Remote notarization will occur through the following simple steps:

  1. The person whose signature is being notarized (the signor) must interact live with the notary.
  2. The notary must confirm the identity of the signor.  This is typically done in one of the following ways: (i) the notary reviews two different sources of identification through a process called “identity proofing” (which may include viewing the signor’s driver’s license and asking personal questions which confirm the signor’s identity), (ii) a third party witness personally known by the notary or whose identity is confirmed by the notary attests to the identity of the signor, or (iii) the notary personally knows the signor from prior dealings.
  3. The signor must sign the document during the live video.
  4. The notary must record the audio-visual interaction. 

The Department of Licensing has published additional rules providing further guidance on remote notarization.

This proclamation, which is made under the Governor’s powers during a state of emergency, accelerates the original October 1, 2020, start date of the remote notarization legislation (SB 5641). If you have questions about how to execute your documents during the Coronavirus outbreak, please reach out to any member of the MPBA team, including Ryan Montgomery or Allison Int-Hout.

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