The New Notarial Glossary

The history of notaries public (aka notaries) is interesting and varied, including origins that can be traced back to the ancient Roman law, or to the 13th and 14 century English common law. In Roman times, notaries were public officials that were often traced back to Senate or to the court where their function was to record public proceedings. In England, early notaries were appointed by a representative of the Pope and were often members of the clergy. In the United States today, notaries are usually commissioned on a state-by-state basis and are generally utilized for validating signatures, administering oaths, and authenticating the execution of certain documents such as deeds.

The advent of digital transactions fueled by the need to conduct business in the face of a worldwide pandemic has brought new attention to this traditional office. State legislatures have responded with a flurry of activity to support and modernize the notarial process. All of this attention has resulted in a rapidly expanding lexicon of terms to describe the different types of notarial acts that are now available. Here is a look at many of these terms and their requisite acronyms:

Traditional Wet Signed Ink Notarization (TWIN) – Traditional Wet Ink Signed Notarization is the good old-fashioned physical notarial act. The parties appear before the notary in person and sign paper documents with ink in front of a notary public that is physically present. The notary uses traditional methods to verify the identity of the signer and they physically apply their signature and seal to the documents.

In-Person Electronic Notarization (IPEN) – In-Person Electronic Notarization is just like TWIN with one important difference, the documents, signatures, and the notarial seal are electronic. The parties appear physically in person and sign electronic documents through an eSigning system. The notary appears in person and verifies the identity of the signers using traditional methods, but they also sign the notarial certificate and apply their seal to the electronic documents through an electronic system. The result is a fully contained electronic document.

Remote Online Notarization (RON) – Remote Online Notarization allows all the parties to attend the signing ceremony remotely using audio-video technology. The parties sign electronic documents electronically using eSign technology. The notary also uses eSign technology to verify identity and to sign the notarial certificate and apply their seal to the electronic documents. Enhanced identification technology such as electronic credentials and knowledge-based authentication processes are often utilized. The signing ceremony is recorded and stored to meet the requirements of state law or the parties. A RON results in a fully contained electronic document that is signed electronically with the parties appearing remotely.

Remote Ink Sign Notarization (RIN) – Remote Ink Signed Notarization is a process that was introduced due to the need to continue to conduct business during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was usually authorized by emergency temporary legislation or by executive order. With RIN the parties attend the closing remotely using audio/video technology. The signers sign using paper documents and wet ink, the notary observes the wet signing through the use of technology. The paper documents are then delivered to the notary for certification. The notary will sign the notarial certificate using wet ink and apply their seal to the physical documents. The signing ceremony is completed remotely using paper documents that are sent back and forth between the parties. RIN results in a paper document with ink signatures and a physical seal. The parties are authenticated based on requirements that are set forth by the implementing order or legislation but would usually include viewing credentials through audio-video technology. RIN was a temporary reaction to the pandemic and has not found acceptance in most financial transactions and will probably expire or will be replaced by permanent RON legislation in most jurisdictions.

Paper Remote Online Notarization (PRON) – Paper Remote Online Notarization involves an online notary using advanced identification procedures such as multi-factor authentication or knowledge-based authentication to authenticate the identity of the signer before watching the signers wet sign paper documents over audio-video technology. The physical documents are then sent to the notary so they can affix their signature and their seal in the traditional physical process. This results in a physical document that has been ink signed with a traditional seal. Think of PRON as a RIN but with the added security of electronic authentication methods. Similar to RIN, PRON has not found much acceptance in most financial transactions such as mortgage loans. It is likely to fade away as the pandemic subsides and will be replaced by more robust RON laws and procedures.

RON laws were already working their way through the legislative process before the pandemic hit, but COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the legislative process around modernizing the notarial process. This has resulted in many different options and acronyms to describe the various notarial processes. As the pandemic passes and we return to a new normal, it is likely that many of these options will expire and will not be needed as they are replaced by RON and IPEN laws and processes that have gained public acceptance and trust. If the pandemic has taught us anything, we need to be nimble and accept new and better ways of transacting business in a changing world. State and federal efforts to revamp the venerable notarial process will assist us as we move forward in pursuit of better ways to accomplish this valuable function.

For more information on selecting the most appropriate notarization method for your borrowers as well as how you can add RON to your digital closing process, request a demo below and we will answer your questions and help you get started.