New Jersey joined several other states in temporarily allowing remote notarizations during the recent coronavirus outbreak. On April 14, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (A-3903/S-2336) temporarily allowing notaries to conduct remote notarizations using "communication technology." The legislation takes effect immediately and expires upon the rescission of Governor Murphy's March 9, 2020 Executive Order declaring a state of emergency as the result of coronavirus.
The remote notarizations must comply with several requirements including the following:
- The notary must be able to communicate with the remotely located individual by sight and sound.
- The notary must have (1) personal knowledge of the identity of the remote individual, (2) "satisfactory evidence" (defined in the statute) of the identity of the remote individual by oath or affirmation from a credible witness appearing before the notary, or (3) "satisfactory evidence" of the identity of the remote individual with at least two different types of identity proofing.
- The notary must reasonably be able to confirm that a record before him or her is the same record in which the remotely located individual made a statement or executed a signature.
- The notary must create an audio-visual recording of the notarial act and retain that recording for ten years.
- The notary's certificate and name affixation must indicate that the notarial act was performed using communication technology.
- The law does not apply to a record to the extent that the record is governed by New Jersey's Uniform Commercial Code, unless the transaction is governed by Article 2 (sales of goods) or Article 2A (leases of goods).
- The law does not apply to a record to the extent that the record is governed by a statute, regulation, or other rule governing adoption, divorce, or other matters of family law.
- If the remotely located individual is located outside the United States, the statute imposes additional requirements.
- The statute also gives the New Jersey State Treasurer the discretion to adopt rules and standards necessary to implement the act, including modifying the time period for retaining the audio-visual recording.
The law will make it easier for business to be conducted remotely during the virus outbreak. Attorneys and notaries should fully educate themselves about the law's requirements and any regulations adopted by the New Jersey State Treasurer before performing remote notarizations or entering into transactions involving remote notarizations.