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Remote Notarization Comes To New Jersey

April 17, 2020
By Lisa Factor Fox

Individuals in New Jersey can now execute documents that require a notary public from the comfort and safety of their homes while exercising good social distancing. On April 14, 2020 Governor Murphy signed into law an act authorizing remote notarization during this public health emergency (the “Act”).

The Act provides that a notary public or officer authorized to take oaths, affirmations and affidavits or to take acknowledgments may perform notarial acts using communication technology for a remotely located individual if (i) requirements for confirming the identity of the individual are met, (ii) the notary or officer is reasonably able to confirm that the document before them is the same document the individual is executing and (iii) the notary or officer or a person acting on their behalf creates an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act which will be retained for at least 10 years.

Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other similar apps should all meet the definition of “communication technology,” but the method used must be recordable in a manner that can be preserved. A remotely located individual is simply someone not in the physical presence of the notary or officer. An individual holding up a driver’s license and other photo ID to their camera so the notary or officer can see both the individual’s face as well as the photo and signature on the ID should satisfy the identification requirement. As for confirming the document before the notary or officer is the same as the document before the individual, both parties should have a copy of the document to be notarized in advance, and the individual signing the document should be sure the notary can see the text as well as the actual act of the individual signing it.

The Act also provides for remotely located individuals outside the U.S., with additional requirements.

Note that there are some exceptions. The Act does not apply generally to the UCC except for certain provisions relating to sales and leases, and it does not apply to certain adoption, divorce or other family law matters. Also, it does not extend to remote witnessing of documents.

Not addressed by the Act is whether the notary or officer should complete an unsigned copy of the document, a signed copy received via fax or email soon after the signing, the original signed document received by the notary or officer later on or some other version of the document. Although we hope to receive further guidance soon, until we do, consider having the signed documents sent via fax or email to the notary or officer immediately after signing with the notary or officer completing the signed copy at that time.

The Act takes effect immediately and expires upon recession of the state of emergency executive order.

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