At the onset of the pandemic, North Carolina (NC) passed a law allowing emergency remote notarization and oaths by live video (e.g., Facetime, WebEx, Zoom). This emergency law had a built-in sunset of August 1, 2020, since the authorization for remote notarizations and oaths was expected to be temporary and short-lived.
Due to the persistence of the virus, NC legislators twice extended this sunset – until March 1, 2021 and later to December 31, 2021, when the emergency remote notarization authorization expired.
Emergency Law Revived
Now, after a seven-month lapse, the emergency law has been revived and a permanent solution is also in the works – but the technological details are still being worked out.
On July 8, 2022, Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 776, which revived the emergency remote notarization statute (N.C. Gen. Stat. 10B-25) through June 30, 2023.
At the same time, Gov. Cooper enacted an entirely new and permanent remote notarization law (N.C. Gen. Stat. 10B-134 et seq.) that will rely on a not-yet-established, two-way video technology. The law contemplates that the communication technology will be licensed by the North Carolina Secretary of State and will be in place by the time the emergency notarization law expires at the end of June 2023.
Note to litigation parties: buried within the new statute is a provision that codifies and allows remote administration of oaths to witnesses for judicial actions without having to use the yet-to-be-established communication technology.
With remote depositions and hearings increasingly becoming the norm, many practitioners have waived and stipulated around objections to the requirement that oaths be administered only in person. This provision makes clear that administering the oath remotely to witnesses in judicial actions is perfectly acceptable, provided that all other statutory requirements, including identity proofing, are followed.
Continue to Proceed With Caution
The detailed requirements for video notarization and oaths, discussed in our previous alert, remain unchanged. These requirements are neither foolproof nor fraud-proof. Businesses and their notaries must be cautious and follow the rules to the letter. Care, not convenience, should be your guide.
Drawing on our experience in remote notarizations in several transactions, we offer a few pointers:
- Build in extra time. In a closing, for example, the document must travel from the signatory to the notary, and then from the notary to the title company, law firm or other final destination. This all takes time.
- PDF every step. Scan the executed document at each stage of the signing and notarization process prior to mailing the fully executed document.
- Prepaid FedEx/UPS Labels. When sending to the signatory, always include a prepaid FedEx or UPS label or envelope.