On January 1, 2020, House Bill 409 came into effect mainly allowing for remote online notarizations. A big change in the notarial act is that in an certificate of acknowledgement or jurat the Notary must indicate whether the principal appeared physically before the Notary or by means of audio-video communication.

Most of the bill states the requirements for registration as an online Notary, standards for performing online notarial acts, witnessing certain documents, keeping an electronic journal of online notarial acts, and creating and preserving a recording of the audio-video online notarial act. You can learn more on how to register as an online notary by visiting this page “Online Notary Registration in Florida”. 

Many of the online notary provisions in House Bill 409 were taken from other states that have already approved online notarizations. This bill allows for electronic last wills, trusts, health care directives, powers of attorney and spousal waivers to be notarized online. However, the online notarization service provider and online Notary is responsible for asking certain questions of the witnesses to these particular records.

Below are the changes made to the Notary Florida Statutes: 

  1. Provides that the Notary’s electronic signature that must be retained under the Notary’s sole control includes access protection with passwords or codes under the control of the Notary.
  2. Prohibits a person from requiring a Notary to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a form of technology that the Notary has not selected to use.
  3. Requires the Department of State, in collaboration with the Agency for State Technology, to adopt rules establishing standards for tamper-evident technologies that will indicate any alteration or change to an electronic record after completion of an electronic notarial act.
  4. Provides that all electronic notarizations performed on or after January 1, 2020, must comply with the standards adopted by the Department of State.
  5. Clarifies that the venue of a notarial certificate must state the location of the Notary at the time of notarization.
  6. Clarifies that a notarial certificate must specify whether the signer personally appeared before the Notary at the time of the notarization by physical presence or by means of audio-video communication technology.
  7. Authorizes a Notary to supervise the making of a copy of a tangible or an electronic record or the printing of an electronic record and attest to the trueness of the copy, provided the document is neither a vital record in this state, another state, a territory of the United States, or another country, nor a public record, if a copy can be made by the custodian of the public record.
  8. Requires a Notary to use a certificate in substantially the form provided in the new law for notarizing a copy of a tangible or an electronic record or a printout of an electronic record.
  9. Modifies the statutory notarial certificate forms in F.S. 117.05 and F.S. 695.25 to include a notation of whether the signer appeared before the Notary physically or by audio-video communication.
  10. Adds a certificate of acknowledgment for a limited liability company in F.S. 695.25.
  11. Clarifies that in the procedure of a Notary signing the name of a person who is physically unable to sign or make a signature by mark, the person with a disability must direct the Notary to sign in his or her presence by verbal, written, or other means, and the Notary must write below the signature the means by which the Notary was directed to sign the notarial certificate.
  12. Requires a Notary to maintain the proof of direction and authorization to sign on behalf of the person with a disability for 10 years from the date of the notarial act.
  13. Modifies the statutory notarial certificate forms for an oath or affirmation of a person with a disability to indicate whether the signer appeared before the Notary physically or by audio-visual communication and the means by which the Notary was directed to sign the person’s name.
  14. Clarifies that the prohibition against a Notary signing a notarial certificate using a facsimile signature stamp unless the Notary has a physical disability that limits or prohibits the Notary’s ability to make a written signature and unless the Notary has first submitted written notice to the Department of State with an exemplar of the facsimile signature stamp does not apply to or prohibit a Notary who is registered as an online Notary to perform an electronic or online notarizations from using an electronic signature and seal.
  15. Prohibits a Notary from notarizing a signature on a document if the person whose signature is being notarized does not appear before the Notary either by means of physical presence or by means of audio-video communication technology.
  16. Clarifies that the fee of a Notary may exceed $10 for any one notarial act, except as provided in F.S. 117.045 (marriages) or 117.275 (online notarizations).

For further information on how to register as an online notary, please visit this page, “Online Notary Registration in Florida”.