In Oregon, e-Notarization is Here to Stay

Last July we discussed the temporary adoption of remote online notarization (RON) in Oregon through June 30, 2021. On June 15, 2021, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 765 making RON permanent. She also signed Senate Bill 220, which allows for remote attestation of certain documents that do not need to be notarized; however, certain estate planning documents like a will must still be attested to in person.

SB 765 did not make many changes to the substantive features of the temporary RON bill. As before, all notaries who wish to use RON must first register and complete required training with the Oregon Secretary of State. RON must be completed through online platforms hosted by approved vendors that have the necessary encryption technology to satisfy the requirements of the law. The technology must provide that the notary and person executing the document can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound, must accommodate visual, hearing and speech impairments, and must provide a means for the notary to verify the signer’s identity. All currently approved vendors require the use of a laptop or desktop computer; smartphones and tablets will not work. All documents notarized using RON must state in the notarial certificate that the act involved the use of communication technology. The notarial act must be recorded audio-visually and the recording retained for 10 years.

There are still limitations to the usefulness of RON, and it remains to be seen if these limitations will recede over time. While all counties in Oregon now accept electronic recording of documents notarized by the traditional in-person method, not all counties accept documents notarized by RON. Acceptance in other states is spotty as well – some counties in Washington will accept RON, but California has not yet authorized RON for recordings anywhere in that state. Some third parties like banks also will not accept RON, even if the document in question would otherwise pass muster for recording. While RON can be used by an Oregon notary for execution of a document occurring anywhere in the United States, it is still better to use traditional methods for international execution of documents.