WV Allows E-Notary

In the past few years the goal of an entirely paperless office has been blocked by a number of hurdles. Slowly, each of these many hurdles has been cleared and now one more hurdle has been cleared. While digital signing of documents and contracts has been accepted for a long time now, certain documents required the signature of a notary to verify the identity of a signer and their intent to sign. The issue in this instance is that the document had to be printed and both the signer and notary had to sign the physical document then the document had to be converted back to a digital format. This printing and signing and scanning created a number of extra steps, thereby defeating the efficiency of digital paperless documents.

Several states have taken steps to remedy this problem by changing notary laws to accept and allow digital or electronic notarization. These states have accepted a number of methods including certificate signing and certain services like Docusign which has a built-in tool for e-notaries to use to notarize and journal their e-notary activities.

By the time you receive this issue of the newsletter the new laws in WV will take effect and e-notarization will be accepted in the state. At this point, the law and the Secretary of State’s office does not give much in the way of direction. The language used in WV to describe acceptable methods of e-notarization is pretty broad. Basically, a commissioned e-notary can notarize a document as long as the method used to notarize the document can be verified and the notary is able to maintain control of the signing/securing method. The notarization also needs to have the proper language and format as described by the WV law and outlined by the Secretary of State.

One method that supports the WV requirements for e-notarization is certificate signing. The notary purchases a signing certificate from a 3rd party like Verisign or Comodo that is kept and secured on their computer. This certificate can then be paired with a scanned digital signature in a pdf reader or used in Microsoft Word to sign and secure a document from tampering or changes after it is signed. I mentioned Docusign earlier as an option; however, this product currently only allows digital notary registrations for notaries commissioned in North Carolina. Hopefully Docusign will make their service available to WV notaries soon.

For any notary wishing to notarize documents electronically I recommend you work closely with someone like a technology consultant as well as the individuals who wish you to digitally notarize their documents to insure everyone understands the requirements and ensure compatibility throughout the process. The learning curve for the state, notaries, and document signers in WV is initially steep; however, in the long run the benefits that will be gained will be entirely worthwhile.

6 Replies to “WV Allows E-Notary”

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