Can a person who is not a U.S. citizen or legal resident use remote online notarization (RON)?
Yes, if certain conditions are met and proper procedures are followed.
The issues discussed here have more to do with the limitations of the technology providers who provide the online notary software and ID verification services to the notary public, and less to do with the person not being a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
In Florida, for example, our state notary laws require that an online notary use a two-step process to verify the identity of a signer. The first step involves an analysis of an identification credential, and the second step requires that the signer pass a 5-question test made up of questions that only the signer should know the answers to.
LexisNexis ID Verification
In order to accomplish these state requirements for ID verification, every online notary outsources the process to a third party. Most all use the services of a well known company called LexisNexis. The process is automated, and the online notary has no input or involvement in whether the signer passes or fails. Only two attempts to pass are permitted before the signer is locked out of the system for at least 24-hours.
The Reason Why Non U.S. Citizens Cannot Pass an Automated ID Verification
In order for LexisNexis to provide ID verification services for online notarization, they must have a way of generating the state required 5-question test for the signer. To facilitate this, the computer accesses the signer’s U.S. credit history to generate the questions. In order to have a credit history in the United States, you must have a social security number. In order to have a social security number, you must be a citizen or legal resident.
Also, LexisNexis does not have access to the identity documents from countries other than the United States and it’s territories. That is why a state issued driver license or a U.S Passport is required.
Requirements for Non U.S. Citizens to Use Remote Online Notarization
A signer who is not a U.S. citizen must know two United States citizens who meet the requirements to use online notarization. They must both have a state issued driver license or U.S. passport, and both have a 3-5 year U.S. credit history. These two citizens must personally know the non-citizen signer, and must both be willing to execute a “Credible Witness Affidavit” under oath, on video, before the notary public and the non-citizen signer during the online notary session. The basis for this procedure is found in Florida Statute 117.05. An excerpt follows:
Florida Statute 117.05 5) (b) 1. (Excerpt, and Emphasis Mine)
(5) A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document unless he or she personally knows, or has satisfactory evidence, that the person whose signature is to be notarized is the individual who is described in and who is executing the instrument. A notary public shall certify in the certificate of acknowledgment or jurat the type of identification, either based on personal knowledge or other form of identification, upon which the notary public is relying. In the case of an online notarization, the online notary public shall comply with the requirements set forth in part II of this chapter.
(a) For purposes of this subsection, the term “personally knows” means having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual, which establishes the individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty.
(b) For the purposes of this subsection, the term “satisfactory evidence” means the absence of any information, evidence, or other circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the person whose signature is to be notarized is not the person he or she claims to be and any one of the following:
1. The sworn written statement of one credible witness personally known to the notary public or the sworn written statement of two credible witnesses whose identities are proven to the notary public upon the presentation of satisfactory evidence that each of the following is true:
Are there additional fees to utilize this procedure?
The following line items will be included on your invoice in addition to our standard published fees:
- Facilitate (2) Online Credible Witnesses – $50
- Prepare a Credible Witness Affidavit – $50
How do I submit my documents for notarization?
You may use our online notary intake portal just as if it were a standard notarization by a U.S. citizen or resident. You will be presented with the proper questions that will guide you through the submission procedure. If you need assistance, you’re welcome to call or email.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Please make sure that a document that is notarized by an online notary in the State of Florida is suitable for your needs.
Please have a passport or other form of government issued ID with you during the online session. The notary will ask you to hold it up to the camera for inclusion on the video.