Simplifile eNotary frequently asked questions

In-person electronic notarization (IPEN) requires the signer and notary to be in the same location but allows them to apply electronic signatures to documents. For IPEN, some states require the technology vendor to register with the Secretary of State and a separate registration may be required for the notary. Your notary vendor should be able to assist in fulfilling these requirements. Simplifile’s® Document Builder fulfills these requirements for servicers in applicable jurisdictions.

Remote online notarization (RON) is a newer option and is less widely accepted than IPEN. RON doesn’t require the signer and notary to be in the same location and can typically be done via webcam. RON requires an identity verification process and secure video communication that is stored for a specified duration. Depending on the state, there may be additional rules. Many states require the RON technology vendor to be registered with the Secretary of State.

The county recorder ultimately makes the decision to record, so it’s important to understand the acceptance at a jurisdiction level.

No. While 34 states have adopted RON legislation, and several more have authorized RON during the coronavirus emergency, there are varying degrees of acceptance at the county level. Simplifile’s research shows that less than half of our counties will accept RON-signed documents.

While “less than half” doesn’t sound overly impressive, it’s important to note that the total coverage of those counties that do accept RON-signed documents is actually about 59% of the U.S. population.

Of course, county acceptance is an ever-evolving situation to the current challenges with COVID.

Yes! Simplifile now offers notaries and agents the ability to administer both RON and IPEN events through our latest product offering, eSign Events. Additionally, Document Builder customers use Simplifile IPEN services to eNotarize servicing documents, such as lien releases and assignments, that are sent to the counties electronically for recording.

Understanding whether a jurisdiction will accept eNotary is complicated. Some considerations:

  • The determination is made at the county level regardless of any state legislation. Don’t assume a county will accept eNotary just because the state has an eNotary rule in place. The county recorder has the ultimate authority to determine recordability.
  • A county may accept in-person eNotarization (IPEN) but not remote online notarization (RON).
  • A county may accept RON eNotary from in-state notaries, out-of-state eNotaries, or both.
  • A county may accept eNotarized documents generally but may specifically exclude acceptance of eNotarized Security Instruments for mortgage (deed of trust or mortgage documents).
  • A state may have passed a RON law and implemented administrative rules, but you also need to know whether there are notaries trained and ready to eNotarize under that state’s law.

Simplifile doesn’t provide a list of eNotary counties as:

  1. The list changes frequently, as new counties come on board and existing counties may loosen (or tighten) their criteria based on changing factors like COVID-19 conditions.
  2. The list requires interpretation to understand, making a master list unhelpful without knowing the use cases. (E.g. Can you eNotarize a security instrument? Are there notaries ready to eNotarize? What’s the criteria for in/out-of-state transactions?)

At Simplifile, eNotary determination is made at the time the loan transaction is started with the lender in Simplifile and based on the most recent knowledge for the jurisdiction. We insure if eNotarization is performed, it will be accepted by the county.

Simplifile works with its lender and servicer clients to provide eNotary information as they create transactions, based on the details of the loan or servicing event. For each transaction, the data is shared with the settlement agent as well.

For our eRecording or eSign Events customers, eEligibility needs to be determined before eNotarization. This is not information that the recording submitter should be expected to provide. With the increased interest in eClosing, the determination needs to be made before document draw.

Simplifile provides its eClosing partners and their lenders and agents eNotary information on a workflow basis. Competitive solutions are also providing eEligibility criteria to their customers, though they may not have the deep level of real-world county recorder information that we gather and maintain every day. We recommend reaching out to those eClosing providers for information. For Simplifile joint customers, Simplifile will guarantee recordability.

The county’s willingness to accept eNotarized lien releases may be different from their acceptance of eNotarized closing documents (security instruments), as described above. The decision to eNotarize will take place before the time to record. This is one of the reasons Simplifile has dedicated resources to tracking county policy decisions quickly.

There are many factors to consider with eNotary, including where it takes place, document types accepted, and the destination county. Consult with your technology vendor on eNotary eligibility or use Simplifile’s Document Builder, which helps servicers produce documents, and provides a customized workflow based on eNotary eligibility.

Other Resources

Mortgage Bankers Association: Remote Online Notarization

Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO): Digital Mortgage Resource Center