Electronic notary; notary to notarize document if signer is not present if identity is established. (SB827)

Introduced By

Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Electronic notaries.  Provides that a person applying to be commissioned as an electronic notary public is not required to be commissioned as a notary public first. The bill also allows, in the case of an electronic notarization, a notary to notarize a document when the signer is not in the notary's presence if satisfactory evidence of the identity is established. Furthermore, the bill allows satisfactory evidence to be based on video or audio conference technology that permits the notary to communicate with and identify the principal at the time of the notarial act. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/06/2011Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/12/11 11102027D
01/06/2011Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/11/2011Assigned Courts sub: Civil
01/18/2011Impact statement from DPB (SB827)
01/31/2011Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (14-Y 0-N 1-A) (see vote tally)
01/31/2011Committee substitute printed 11104258D-S1
02/01/2011Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/02/2011Impact statement from DPB (SB827S1)
02/02/2011Read second time
02/02/2011Reading of substitute waived
02/02/2011Committee substitute agreed to 11104258D-S1
02/02/2011Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB827S1
02/03/2011Read third time and passed Senate (28-Y 12-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2011Placed on Calendar
02/07/2011Read first time
02/07/2011Referred to Committee on Science and Technology
02/16/2011Reported from Science and Technology with amendment (19-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2011Read second time
02/18/2011Passed by for the day
02/21/2011Read third time
02/21/2011Committee amendment agreed to
02/21/2011Engrossed by House as amended
02/21/2011Passed House with amendment (85-Y 14-N)
02/21/2011VOTE: PASSAGE (85-Y 14-N) (see vote tally)
02/23/2011House amendment agreed to by Senate (34-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
03/03/2011Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB827ER)
03/03/2011Impact statement from DPB (SB827ER)
03/03/2011Signed by Speaker
03/06/2011Signed by President
03/26/2011Governor's recommendation received by Senate
04/05/2011Placed on Calendar
04/06/2011Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation (37-Y 3-N) (see vote tally)
04/06/2011House concurred in Governor's recommendation (89-Y 8-N)
04/06/2011VOTE: ADOPTION (89-Y 8-N) (see vote tally)
04/06/2011G Governor's recommendation adopted
04/06/2011Reenrolled bill text (SB827ER2)
04/06/2011Signed by President as reenrolled
04/06/2011Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
04/06/2011Enacted, Chapter 834 (effective - see bill)
04/06/2011G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0834)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 3 clips in all, totaling 5 minutes.


Robert Greenwald writes:

I am a Notary and after reading SB827 a few questions come to mind. With electric notarization how does one affirm that the ID documents provided and viewed have not been tampered with. This bill will cause a nightmare of record keeping as each notary will be required to keep two sets of records as not every notary is or will be set up for electric notarization and not everybody requires electric notarization.How can you approve this bill without checking with the people who are in the field and doing the job as a Notary??? I urge all to reconsider what you are about to do and do some checking with the department of Notaries and other Notaries to insure one is not creating more of a problem by voting for this bill.Electronic Notarization has its place however this bill needs to be voted down.

Ardel Richter writes:

The potential for fraud is enormous. Personal appearance and being able to see and touch the actual ID a person offers to examine it for tampering is the first and foremost value that notarization offers. I realize that we've entered a technology age--but more thought about how fraud can easily be perpetrated with this method must be very seriously considered and explored. While the vast majority of notarizations are for mundane purposes, many also involve real estate holdings or business contracts too varied to list or allow to be handled in this far less than ideal manner.

Shoshana Roller writes:

The possibility of fraud here is HUGE. The notary needs to be able to see and touch the ID presented.The signer needs to personally appear before the notary. Why tamper with a system that has worked well for ages? If it isn't broken, don't fix it!

Glenn Strickler writes:

The notary is quite often the last barrier to fraud. This bill removes that protection for the consumer.

In the era where the country has already suffered at the hands of greed and fraud, why remove one of the last protections?

Lisa Thornton writes:

Video notarizing will just open the floodgates for fraud. People could be on the video in disguises - wigs, fake mustaches or beards, wear theatrical makeup....a husband could pretend to be his wife and vice versa - on video - basically anybody could be anyone OTHER than who they really are - all for obviously fraudulent purposes.

On another note, people trying to nullify or breach legitimate contracts or transactions they freely agreed to can LIE and claim that someone else was in the room, outside of the video screen view, holding a gun, knife, baseball bat, taser, etc., and forced them to sign.

The scam artists will just take a photo of themselves in their disguise and photo-shop that on to a legitimate ID and put that online. No one will be the wiser until the victim is wiped out financially or the victim pulled over for a routine traffic stop - then is arrested for some crime they never committed because the identity thief continued using the victim's ID for their crime sprees and racked up charges and warrants all over the country.

Video notarizing will take identity theft and blue/white collar crime to a whole new level - to the detriment of society.

Gerry Ashton writes:

This would be a major departure from the standards required in most states. When other states, or companies and individuals in other states, get wind of this, they may respond by refusing to recognize any notarization performend in Virginia.

Furthermore, there is no precedent for the notary to be located in one state and the notary in another. The notary has no way to determine the location of the signer. Thus the venue and law applicable to the notarial act is thrown into confusion.

James Dawson writes:

With that type rational you can also state.....There is a crime "if" arrested.

Vikki Miller writes:

Please do not let this bill pass. It will cause havoc in so many areas of our lives. Like someone has already said, our established system of doing notarization in front of the signer is NOT BROKEN AND IT DOESN'T NEED TO BE FIXED.

Cheryl Parker writes:

Satisfactory identification evidence is for the signer to PHYSICALLY hand to the notary an original valid acceptable identification. Can't be done with video/audio conferencing. Also cannot verify that the signer is not signing under duress. Automation is fine for some things, but eliminating the last protection against fraud is not. This is a ridiculous bill and anyone who sponsors or cosponsors it is proponent of enabling the dirty tricks and fraud that has put this country in the economic cesspool that is today.

Sandra J Clark writes:

I am a Notary, commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and I strongly oppose any legislation that would no longer require the personal appearance of anyone needing notarizations. I want the person in front of me, handing me their ID. directly. There would be too many opportunities for fraud by faked ID's, coersion, mental capacity of the signer questionable etc. There is enough fraud in the real estate market place as it is...we don't need more

C Ronnie Clark writes:

As a Notary, commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, I oppose any legislation that removes the requirement that a person must physically appear before me and produce to me by hand their ID,

Glenn Strickler writes:

A follow up to my comment above.

I received an email just today (Sunday Jan 16) telling me to stay out of Virginia's business, since I live in California. People in Virginia have made real estate purchases in California. More often recently as the prices here have hit rock bottom. Those documents were notarized in Virginia then filed in California. I am sure the same is true for many other states. So what happens in Virginia doesn't stay in Virginia. It affects everyone to some extent or another. The relaxing of ID requirements in any state is both dangerous and will affect every other state, so respectfully, it is our business.

Claudine C. Osborne writes:

I urge the lawmakers to vote no on this bill! We notaries have been around for hundreds of years! The commission of a Notary and our duties are that we identify the signers with proper ID, using this method we have been able to deter a lot of fraud! Can a video notary really get a sense of a signer that is signing under duress while the person pushing this singer is sitting out of range of the camera?? NO! This is one reason along with the many that my fellow notaries have expressed!

Linda Adams writes:

As a mobile notary, I have concerns with this bill and the companion bill in the House; first with confidently determining that a document signer is who they say they are, that they signed the document willingly, and that they are aware of its contents by notarizing via video conference. Other concerns relate to different sets of criteria for the notaries.

Lisa Marie Scherpf writes:

I'm appalled at any attempt to undermine the role of the notary public. You cannot in good conscience sign your name that you have seen and satisfactorily determined the ID of the person appearing before you, if in fact they are not physically in front of you and you are holding their ID in your hands!! I have no doubt this would do nothing except advance the fraud running rampant in our world now.

Amy Tatusko 367584 writes:

Thanks for this informative new website, I do hope those involved will take the time to read the comments posted here and vote NO to sb2318.

Kathy Fletcher writes:

Please, please vote NO. This legislation would affect approximately 4.5 Million notaries in the United States alone. Think of the impact this legislation would have on the nation. The economical impact could be devastating.

Linda writes:

I am a notary for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Requiring personal appearance of the signer in front of the notary is one of THE MOST fundamental elements of any notarial act, and is one of the best ways that fraud can be prevented by unscrupulous signers. I am absolutely astonished that our lawmakers would even consider allowing non-appearance or appearance by video camera in lieu of personal appearance in front of the notary. Having the signer in front of you, holding the ID that has been presented, observing their demeanor, etc., are things which are essential to any proper notarial act. I have refused to notarize based on suspicious ID. I can just imagine how fabricated ID (Photoshop, etc) could be successfully presented by video cam. And I can just see all the title companies and lenders who will set up their offices with electronic notarization capabilities via video cam, and thus fraud will run rampant. I cannot tell you how many times over the years that these types of companies have requested me to backdate my notary certificates on documents or to go ahead and notarize even though the signer’s identification is not in order, or if the paperwork was drawn up incorrectly and does not match the ID (for example, middle name being incorrectly listed on documents as first name, such as “Jane A. Doe” with documents drawn up as “Anne J. Doe”). Of course I refuse these requests. However, a lender who is set up for electronic notarizations in-house via web cam will have no problem coercing its employees to improperly notarize. Often times the traditional notary who meets directly with the signer is the last stop in preventing improper transactions from being completed. It will be a free-for-all in Virginia if this bill passes.

I am confused about the wording “Provides that a person applying to be commissioned as an electronic notary public is not required to be commissioned as a notary public first.” I have reviewed the most recent Virginia Notary Public Handbook (2009 edition as published on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website) and it states, “An electronic notary public may act as a notary public in all respects upon being commissioned as an electronic notary public.” I am reading this to mean that an electronic notary may also act as a traditional notary within Virginia. However, if you go to the Secretary’s website, it states “In order to be an electronic notary, you must first be a commissioned Virginia notary public.” So it seems to me that the bill is saying that the electronic notary commission is also considered to be valid for the same notary to perform as a traditional notary within Virginia. If I am interpreting this passage correctly, I have no problem with that as long as an electronic notary is held to the same standards as a traditional notary.

But once again, personal appearance should be MANDATORY for ALL notarial acts – whether electronic or traditional. Virginia will be opening the flood gates to fraud if non-appearance or appearance by video cam is allowed.

Va Notary writes:

Please read, this was forwarded to me by a notary from CA:


Elizabeth Foust writes:

I've tried to understand why this type of bill would even be considered. The only thing that I can come up with is that it would be convenient for those that are routinely needing notarizations. As much as I empathize with those, we cannot allow this HUGE potential loop hole to fraud.
We must consider the country as a whole and not just the business men and women that are inconvenienced.
This will undermine the whole purpose for notarization.
Many states have included holograms and/or raised print on their state ID's to help prevent fraud. Without physically holding the ID or using a UV light, these extra security measures are useless.
Please do not let this pass.

Martin Johnson writes:

I am a notary public as well, but I wonder if you all fully appreciate the security features that have been included in the bill.

There are very tightly drafted requirements for the notary to assure the identity of the signer under these bills.

1. Personal knowledge....already a widely-used format in Virginia;
2. Dependance on antecedent proofing from the signer;
3. Dependance on PIV cards, issued or designed only under the Federal standards.

These requirements, along with requirment to keep the video / audio log, don't you think this makes it a more secure transaction?

Chris writes:

Martin, you absolutely correct in your comments. Consideration must be given to the ability of technology to track and log. Just because someone does not see all the background details that are captured when using various forms of technology does not mean they are not useful. Many of these practices are already utilized by business and law enforcement. Video provides proof of what "actually" took place in a transaction. Even if a fraud is committed, the starting point for investigating it is far more advanced than current practices.

J. Andrew writes:

I am in support of sb827 and the courage and foresight Senator John Edwards and the Virginia legislature has in regards to taking steps to secure the most dynamic medium in existence today: THE INTERNET.

We agree with the cornerstone of notarization requiring personal appearance of a signer before a duly sworn notary public. However notaries need to understand that personal is appearance is not physical personal appearance. This is ground zero for a lot of the confusion in understanding the support for e-Notarization and more specifically remote e-Notarization.

Notaries Public underestimate the attraction and convenience of e-Commerce and even more importantly their roll in bringing their notary skills to increase its’ integrity for business transactions.

The fact of the matter is we need live notaries in real time on-line right now! The global economy is beginning to make its stand and the need to have the eyes of the people on internet transactions, which currently occur without a trusted human witness, has resulted in many instances of fraud and misrepresentation and identity theft.

What needs to be understood is that manual notarization will be the biggest beneficiary of sb827, because some people will opt for and feel more secure if they met with a physical notary public. Notaries using a real-time video-conferencing recording technology will serve those who handle business on-line. This will open a new revenue stream for notaries public supporting high fees. The usage of real-time video conferencing recording has many benefits.

1. The most important benefit is the recorded real-time videoconference notarization file. This technology teamed with a live notary is a powerful tandem for deterring fraud and misrepresentation.

2. Facial recognition technology supplanting thumb-print biometrics is adaptable to current government authority criminal databases for cross checking.

3. Notaries public can support their memories and handwritten journals of a notarization via archived videoconference recordings, and electronic journals.

I‘ve personally had many discussions on this issue. Notaries maintain that they can’t determine if an I.D. is valid via video. The reality is a notary cannot determine if an I.D. is valid in person because they do not have the tools to do so. A notary’s roll is to be a witness between two parties to a contract. Notaries are not identification validating experts. For example in the State of California a notaries public may accept a driver license that has expired for up to one year.

Some Notaries argue that someone maybe off camera holding a gun to signer’s head in a video conference. To a degree bank tellers act as notaries to determine if a person seeking to make a withdrawal or a deposit is who they say they are. The bank teller will witness a depositor’s endorsement of a check and even verify the person signature. Not even a notary does this.

Yet how many notaries today use an automated teller machine to access their money. Today people still have the option of going into a bank or they may use a machine on the front or side of a building to access money. The point is how many people have used an ATM to withdraw money at gunpoint vs. how many people have withdrawn money from an ATM safely.

I don’t blame notaries for the recent real estate mess but all real estate documents are to be notarized and recorded. The question is: How many homeowners signed real estate loan documents under duress or even had the capacity to know what they were signing? The bottom-line is something went terribly wrong.

I understand Notaries apprehension regarding the future of their time honored practices however advance’s in technology based on security requirements and economic globalization, mandate the need for notaries to participate in cyberspace and do their part to deter fraud and identity theft, protecting the end user and the e-Commerce Eco-system as well.

It’s viable and possible. Lionizations: to the visionaries of the Virginia legislature.