It is important to understand the difference between electronic notarization and remote notarization.
Electronic notarization (eNotarization) involves documents that are notarized in electronic form. The notary and customer both sign with an electronic signature, and both the notarial certificate and the notary seal are attached to or logically associated with the electronic record. Rather than a paper document and a rubber stamp notary seal, the notary digitally places his or her seal information into a document which exists as electronic data in a computer-readable form. But all other elements of a traditional paper notarization apply to electronic notarization, including the requirement for the signer to appear personally (physically) before the notary.
With remote online notarization (RON), the legal requirement that the signer personally and physically appear before the notary is met by the use of audio-visual electronic communication technology. The important role that the notary plays when a statement is made in or a signature executed on a record now occurs remotely over the internet, with a document that is in electronic form. Remote online notarization is also called remote notarization, webcam notarization, online notarization or virtual notarization.
Both electronic and remote notarization are permitted in Pennsylvania. The electronic notarization program was established on January 30, 2006. Remote notarization came in phases, beginning temporarily for limited transactions on March 25, 2020 and culminating with Act 97 of 2020, effective October 29, 2020. Act 97 made remote online notarization a permanent part of Pennsylvania law.
Current law provides that a Pennsylvania notary public may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records and may also perform a notarial act facilitated by communication technology for a remotely located individual. In both cases, before the notary public performs any notarial act with respect to an electronic record or notarizes a record for a remotely located customer who is appearing before the notary by means of communication technology, the notary must notify the Department of State that the notary public will be doing so.
Once such notification is received and approved, the notary must identify each technology the notary public intends to use. The Department of State has established standards for approval of electronic and remote notarization technology and the list of electronic and remote notarization solution providers (below) contains the approved technological solutions that conform to the standards.
Use the links below to learn more about the Electronic and Remote Notarization Program.
Remote Notarization-General Information and Requirements
Steps to Becoming an Electronic or Remote Notary in Pennsylvania
List of Approved Electronic and Remote Notarization Solution Providers
Electronic/Remote Notarization Application (online)
Frequently Asked Questions about the Electronic and Remote Notarization Program
History of Electronic and Remote Notarization in Pennsylvania
Updated November 4, 2020