What Is Electronic Notarization

California law and regulations support the electronic notarization of documents, but certain notarial acts (including acknowledgement which is used in real estate transactions) require the person to appear in person in front of the notary.  Under California law, for an electronic notary to be valid, the notarization must include the valid electronic signature of the party as well as the electronic signature of the notary and an electronic seal from the notary.  In these cases, this electronic notarization may be done entirely electronically.  However, for acknowledgements (which verify the identity of the person), the California Secretary of State (whose office regulates notaries) has indicated that video information or other electronic means of identifying the person are not adequate, and that the person requiring the acknowledgement must appear in person before the notary and provide proof of identity.  Furthermore, certain documents (such as title documents) require that the notary obtain the thumbprint of the party, which can only be done in person.  (Electronic thumbprints are not accepted for notarization at the current time.)  The California Secretary of State may in the future modify these rules, but as a result, the entire real estate transaction cannot be notarized electronically but at least part must be done in the presence of a notary.


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