In the vast majority of the United States, notarizations are required to be performed on physical paper while physically in front of a notary. However, Virginia has authorized notaries within their state to notarize electronic documents on the basis of a digital signature & stamp, once the person seeking the notarization appears in front of the said notary (and verifies their identity) via video.

Are state or federal agencies located in other states required to accept such notarizations, if electronic notarizations aren't authorized in their location?

The National Notary Association suggests that such notarizations might be valid nation-wide on the basis of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution:

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.

However, I am not sure that a notarization qualifies as a public act or record.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State of California has released an alert advising California notaries that they may not perform online notarizations. Although it does not touch upon whether Californians get receive valid notarizations from other states via the internet, it does say

California law requires a person to appear personally before a notary public to obtain notarial acts like acknowledgments or jurats. This means the party must be physically present before the notary public.

Hence my question. If a state or federal agency is operating in a jurisdiction that does not allow online notarizations, are such notarizations from other states over the internet valid? In other words, must a public agency in CA, for example, accept the notarization received by a Californian over the internet from an electronic notary in Virginia?

1 Answer 1


Notarization is a public act or record. However, courts have recognized exceptions to the Full Faith and Credit Clause, for example on the grounds of public policy. The question of whether recognition of remote electronic notarization performed in another state is mandated by the Full Faith and Credit Clause has not, to my knowledge, been addressed in case law. However, the question of whether states are forced by the Constitution to do so has relatively little practical effect; according to Notarize.com (which does have a vested interest in the validity of remote electronic notarizations, but provides helpful statutory citations in each state), 49 states (all except Iowa) recognize remote electronic notarizations as a matter of state law without being forced to by federal courts.

Since you mention California, Cal. Civ. Code § 1189(b) provides, without qualification, that "Any certificate of acknowledgment taken in another place shall be sufficient in this state if it is taken in accordance with the laws of the place where the acknowledgment is made." It's likely that this provision gives full force and effect to remote electronic notarizations taken outside of the state, if the remote electronic notarization was within the notary's lawful jurisdiction.

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