Remote Online Notarization (RON) is a new form of notarization permitted in Florida as of January 1, 2020.
Florida’s previous notary laws required that the person signing certain legal documents and persons signing as witnesses be in the same room, that is, physically present with each another.
Florida’s new RON law allows persons to be physically outside the presence of the Florida online notary as long as the notary is located in Florida and all parties can see, hear and communicate with each other via acceptable audio-video technology. .
Although “in-person” notarizations are still by far the norm, we will continue to see RON’s growth and use as the real estate industry increasingly moves to electronic and digital technology.
Moreover, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, RON will increasingly become a logical alternative and preference as parties to a transaction do not have to be in others’ physical presence.
It is important to remember that a “traditional” Florida notary cannot simply begin acting as a Florida online notary. Before acting as a Florida online notary, the notary must be successfully registered as an online notary with the Florida Department of State. This registration requires completion of a two-hour course, having certain insurance policies in place, and selection of a “RON service provider” (the technology company that provides the platform for the audio-video technology and other required obligations such as an electronic journal).
The current major impediment to RON is its slow acceptance by large institutional banks and lenders. Other more “technology-minded” lenders are adopting RON at a faster pace. Despite the slow acceptance by the lending industry, RON will be an important part of the ongoing shift to handling real estate closings online digitally and electronically. Once fully implemented, these practices will save agents time and costs and be more convenient for all parties to a real estate transaction.