Information Center

Complying with RON Law

1. Can a Florida online notary public notarize the signature of someone signing outside the State of Florida?

Answer:  Yes. Pursuant to Sec. 117.265(1), F.S., an online notary public physically located in this state may perform an online notarization regardless of whether the principal or any witnesses are physically located in this state at the time of the online notarization.  Note, however, that Sec. 117.285(4), F.S., requires that a witness remote from the principal must verbally confirm on the recording that he or she is a resident of the United States and physically located within the United States or a territory of the United States at the time of witnessing. 

2. Does the notary block need to be updated for all notarized documents in Florida, or only those for the transfer of real estate/closings?

Answer:  All notarized documents.  Sec. 117.05, F.S. now requires a notary public to include, among other things, the following information when completing a jurat or certificate of acknowledgment: “Whether the signer personally appeared before the notary public at the time of the notarization by physical presence or by means of audio-video communication technology.”  Under Sec. 117.01(4)(h) an intentional violation of the statute can result in the suspension of a notary public.

From a practical standpoint a notarization which fails to include this  element risks being rejected for recording by the clerk and makes the document subject to challenge when enforcement is sought.  In addition, Sec. 117.05(6), F.S. makes the employer of a notary public liable to all persons involved for damages proximately caused by a notary’s misconduct.

3. Will my current notary public certificate be invalid if I do not obtain a RON certification?

Answer:  No. A Florida notary public does not have to become an “online notary public.”  RON certification simply expands the authority of an appointed notary public to include remote online notarization.

4. May the signatures of foreign nationals be notarized remotely or is it only available to U.S. citizens?

Answer:  Although the RON law allows for the notarization of foreign nationals, the identity verification process for those individuals is currently problematic because of the “knowledge-based authentication (KBA)” and credential analysis requirements of the statute.  All signers must present a form of identification subject to verification and current technology cannot verify foreign passports.  The principal must also go through KBA, which currently requires a U.S. tax identification number and U.S. credit history. It may therefore be difficult to qualify foreign nationals for RON until sometime in the future.

5. If the signer is personally known to the RON notary, may the KBA process be skipped to allow for the remote notarization of a foreign national?

Answer:  Apparently not.  Unfortunately, RON platform providers so far seem to be requiring the KBA process in all cases, even for U.S. citizens. 

6. Do I, as a closing agent, need to get the original signatures post-signing or is the digitally-signed version sufficient?

Answer: Under the law, the digital signature is the original signature. A copy of the signed document may be printed and certified to be a true and correct copy, but it is still just a copy.

7. Can the notary also serve as a witness?

Answer:  Yes, but the notary must sign both as the notary and again separately as a witness just as has always been the case. See TN 10.07.04.

8. Who is required to store the RON recording for 10 years?

Answer:  The notary is responsible for maintaining the recordings as well as the required electronic journal for a period of 10 years after the date of the notarial act. However, Sec. 117.245(4), F.S. allows the notary to delegate that responsibility by contract to a secure repository provided the Department of State is notified of the delegation within 30 days. (Note: the rules are slightly different for electronic will signings as the recording must be maintained by a “qualified custodian” in accordance with chapters 731 and 732, F.S.).

9. Is a digitally signed note acceptable to a lender? Can an electronic note be the basis of a foreclosure action?

Answer:  Yes, that has been the case since the advent of electronic notarization in Florida. See Rivera v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 189 So.3d 323 (Fla 4th DCA 2016).

10. What if an instrument is notarized by an online notary from another state?

Answer:  Old Republic National Title will insure transactions involving Florida property where the instrument(s) to be insured or any deed in the back chain were acknowledged by either a Florida or other state RON if the principal is a U.S. citizen. Due to the higher risk and potential for fraud, you must contact underwriting to discuss the circumstances prior to insuring any transaction which utilizes RON for a non-US citizen or other person without a U.S. social security number.