Technology Based Notarization: Remote, R.O.N., IPEN

There are four ways in which a notarization involving a signature (acknowledgments, signature witnessings, and jurats) may be performed in Montana:  Traditional, IPEN, RON, and Remote.  Even if you don’t plan on offering technology based notarizations, it is absolutely critical that all Montana notaries understand what each type of notarization is, what the requirements and limitations are, and generally how to properly perform each method of notarization.  There is a great deal of misunderstanding and misuse of these terms – they are not interchangeable and notaries must be absolutely certain that they understand specifically what each method involves and what the situation or request really requires.

DEFINITIONS and CONDITIONS

Traditional Notarization – This is the type of notarization that has been done by notaries for hundreds of years, although modern technology may be involved in a traditional notarization as well.  Generally, a traditional notarization involves:

  • Physical presence of the signer(s) and the notary
  • Paper (tangible) document
  • “Wet” signatures of the signer(s) and the notary (Although the signer may use a stamp to sign the document or present a digitally signed paper document for the notary to sign with a wet signature.)
  • Ink impression of the notary’s seal/stamp

In-Person Electronic Notarization – IPEN – This type of notarization, sometimes called “eNotarization” has been around for almost 20 years, and has been legal in Montana since 2015.  Montana notaries must perform IPEN notarizations within the state of Montana.  IPEN involves:

  • Physical presence of the signer(s) and the notary
  • Electronic document
  • Digital signatures of the signer and the notary
  • Digital notary seal

Remote Online Notarization – R.O.N. – This type of notarization may be performed by Montana notaries beginning October 1, 2019.  The most unique element of R.O.N. is that the signer and the notary appear to one another by means of communications technology – live, two-way, audio-visual transmission.   The notary must be physically located in Montana; the signer can be anywhere in the world. R.O.N. involves:

  • Personal appearance via communication technology of the signer(s) and the notary
  • Electronic document
  • Digital signatures of the signer and the notary
  • Digital notary seal

Remote Notarization – Montana is one of only two states currently that allow the remote notarization of tangible documents.  The notary must be physically located in Montana; the signer can be anywhere in the world. Remote notarization involves:

  • Personal appearance via communication technology of the signer(s) and the notary
  • Paper (tangible) document, which has been signed and subsequently delivered to the notary (the notary has the actual signed document)
  • Wet signatures of the signer and the notary
  • Ink impression of the notary’s seal/stamp
  • Acknowledgments are the only notarial act that can be performed in this manner

REQUIREMENTS FOR PERFORMING TECHNOLOGY BASED NOTARIZATIONS

Registration 

  • Notaries who wish to perform IPEN, R.O.N. or Remote Notarizations must:
    • Select one or more electronic notarization systems or communication technologies
    • Complete an approved course of instruction provided by the technology provider(s) or an approved third-party provider
    • Pass an examination based on the course(s)
    • Submit the Notary Public Information Update form and proof of completion of the course and examination

System Requirements

  • Must provide simultaneous visual and audio transmission
  • Must provide evidence of any change or tampering to a record
  • Must ensure integrity in the creation, transmittal, storage, or authentication of electronic records or signatures
  • Signal must be live, real-time
  • Transmission must be recorded

Compliant Notary Certificates for R.O.N. or Remote Notarizations

  • Principal located outside the U.S. – §1-5-610(9), MCA
  • Principal located within the U.S. – §1-5-610(10), MCA

Journal and Recording

  • Must record the entire communication between signer(s) and notary (a/v file)
  • Must retain sole possession of recording or transmit to an approved repository
  • Must create a separate tangible or electronic journal record of transaction per §1-5-618, MCA
  • May provide copy of a/v recording per §1-5-618, MCA
  • May charge additional fee for copy of journal entry or a/v recording per §1-5-626(3), MCA            

METHODS OF IDENTIFICATION FOR REMOTE and REMOTE ONLINE NOTARIZATIONS

Montana law recognizes “personal knowledge” as the highest and best form of identification for both traditional and technology based notarizations:  A notary who has personal knowledge of the signer does not need any further proof of identity.   A credible witness may also be used for a technology based notarization, and all the requirements for a credible witness apply.  Technology based notarizations, specifically for remote and remote online notarizations utilize “multi-factor” identification using two or more different types of technologies.  The currently approved types of identification technologies are:

  • Dynamic knowledge-based authentication (DKBA)
  • Public key certificate
  • Identity proofing
  • Credential analysis and remote presentation
  • Blockchain.

These terms are defined in statute and in the glossary at the end of the Montana Notary Public Handbook.

Notaries should be aware of the types of identification technologies, but it is actually the communications technology provider who is responsible for identifying the signer using these technologies prior to the active remote session.  Your system provider will train you in your responsibilities for using the identification methods their system employs.  In many, if not most of the remote transactions, the notary will not be brought into the session until the technology-based identification process has been successfully completed.  However, the notary will most often have the opportunity to review the identification credential presented by the signer for a final ID check.

The notary has final authority to accept or deny the identification for any remote or RON transaction.

APPROVED NOTARY TECHNOLOGY PROVIDERS

Currently Approved Providers are:

  • Figure Technologies – For in-house Figure employee notaries only
  • Notarize
  • NotaryCam
  • Pavaso
  • SafeDocs
  • Simplifile – For IPEN only
  • World Wide Notary
  • DocVerify
  • Nexsys

If you are interested in using a provider that is not listed here, please contact [email protected].

Notaries may use one or more of the approved technologies, but the notary cannot be required to utilize a technology for which the notary has not been certified.

APPROVED REMOTE OR RON NOTARIES

A list of Montana notaries who have been approved to offer technology based notarial services will be available through our online notary search function soon.

Montana Secretary of State – Corey Stapleton
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