Electronic notarization and remote notarization are not the same thing.
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 appear before the notary is met by the use of audio-visual electronic communication or 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. Remote online notarization is also called remote notarization, webcam notarization, online notarization or virtual notarization.
Pennsylvania's electronic notarization program was established on January 30, 2006, and was the first of its kind in the nation. Now called the Electronic Notarization Program, e-Notarization allows qualified Pennsylvania notaries public to perform notarizations electronically, in compliance with provisions of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
RULONA provides that a notary public may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records. A customer may not require a notary public to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology that the notary public has not selected.
Before a commissioned Pennsylvania notary public performs any notarial act with respect to an electronic record, the notary public must notify the Department of State that the notary public will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records. 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 notarization technology and the list of electronic notarization solution providers (below) contains the approved technological solutions that conform to the standards.
Until the COVID-19 epidemic, Pennsylvania law required all notarial acts, even those performed electronically with respect to electronic records, to be done in the physical presence of the notary or other notarial officer. Remote online notarization was first permitted in March 2020, but was limited to very specific transactions per COVID-19 waivers approved by the Governor. On April 20, 2020, Governor Wolf signed into law Act 15, effective immediately, which temporarily authorizes remote notarization for all Pennsylvania notaries public. This authorization will expire 60 days after termination or expiration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency issued by Governor Wolf. The processes and procedures for becoming a remote notary mirror those of becoming an electronic notary.
Use the links below to learn more about the Electronic and Remote Notarization Program.
Temporary Remote Notarization – effective April 20, 2020
Steps to Becoming an Electronic or Remote Notary in Pennsylvania
List of Approved Electronic and Remote Notarization Solution Providers
E-Notarization Application (online) - also for remote notarization
Frequently Asked Questions about the Electronic Notarization Program