New Virginia Law Allows Online Legal Notarization

For the first time in U.S. legal history, a notarization has taken place online. A signer located in Los Angeles personally appeared before a notary located in Richmond, Virginia, using audio-video conference technology under the authority of a Virginia law that recently went into effect.

Notaries in Virginia can now perform online notarizations for any signer in any state, anytime. The signer, a practicing attorney in California, executed a durable Power of Attorney. The notary and signer met in a live, two-way audio-video conference and digitally signed and notarized the Power of Attorney pursuant to Virginia law.

The document was rendered tamper evident and an automated electronic journal record was created that includes a digital recording of the signer and notary performing the transaction. The digitally notarized PDF document has the same legal effect as a pen-and-ink paper document, and the notary’s electronic journal data virtually eliminates the possibility of identity theft because it includes an image of the signer.

This new online notary process also allows the notary to identify signers online using knowledge-based authentication, rather than unreliable and easily forged documents like driver’s licenses. Identification of the signer by a trusted third party removes the pressure and liability the notary faces in the paper world where notaries must rely on documents that can be easily faked. Because the notary’s journal includes a digital recording of the transaction, including an image of the signer, fraud will be significantly reduced over the current traditional process.

So… why can’t (won’t) insurance companies accept electronic signatures?

Steve Anderson provides information to insurance agents about how they can use technology to increase revenue and/or reduce expenses. He speaks professionally to hundreds of agents each year on the future of technology, the social web, and how insurance agencies can establish their Internet presence.

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2 thoughts on “New Virginia Law Allows Online Legal Notarization

  1. Marc, thanks for leaving a comment. I found out about the new Virginia law through a press release from I keep track of technology issues for the insurance industry, especially insurance agents, and this was intriguing to me as an example of the movement from wet signature to electronic signature processes.

    I believe electronic signatures, in all its forms, represent a significant advance in the productivity improvements available to the insurance industry. Here is a link to an article I wrote on electronic signatures for LinkedIn Today:

    I’d be interested in your view on the problems or limitations that an electronic notary process represents. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.