Senate Passes Gopal Bill Allowing Notaries to Work Remotely

TRENTON – Legislation which would allow public notaries to authenticate documents remotely for the duration of the public health emergency was approved by the Senate today. The bill is sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein, Senator Vin Gopal, Senator Troy Singleton, and Senator Declan O’Scanlon.

“As we continue to combat COVID-19, we must stay committed to practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “During this time, we are working hard to help the people of New Jersey adapt to this temporary period of uncertainty. This legislation would see the temporary authorization of remote notarization in the state, which would eliminate any need for person-to-person contact during this process.”

The bill, S-2336, would authorize the utilization of audio-video technology, such as video communication via webcam or cellphone by an individual as an acceptable means of appearing before a public notary. The notary would be able to authenticate documents if the officer either has personal knowledge of the individual’s identity; has satisfactory evidence of the identity of the remotely located individual either by oath or affirmation from a credible witness; or has obtained satisfactory evidence of the identity of the client by using at least two different types of proof of identity.

“In order to flatten the curve we must continue to find ways to help the state adapt throughout this crisis while promoting social distancing,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “This legislation addresses a real-world scenario with a real-world approach by utilizing the benefits of technology and webcams as tools to adapt just like many of us in government and business have.”

“Our top priority for the state is for the people of New Jersey to continue practicing social distancing,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This is a communal effort and the use of video conferences have allowed governments to continue functioning and businesses operating without putting each other at risk. We need to look at how technology can help us adapt throughout this pandemic and this legislation underscores this.”

"During the current coronavirus crisis, people still require the services of notaries to execute and verify important documents and to take oaths, affirmations, and affidavits," said Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth). "This legislation will allow notaries to make use of the same communications technologies that governments and businesses are using to continue operating, while incorporating safeguards such as video recordings of the signing or statement that can be referred to later if needed."

The bill would require the audio-visual recording of the remote notarization to be retained for a 10-year period by the notary, a guardian, conservator, agent of a notary officer, or a personal representative of a deceased notary.

Remote notarizations are currently able to be performed in 17 states.