New Jersey Law Allows Remote Notarial Acts During Public Health Emergency

April 16, 2020Alerts

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of New Jersey has authorized remote notarial acts under prescribed circumstances if the involved parties can engage in simultaneous communication by both video and audio.

New Jersey Act A3903, which passed the New Jersey Legislature on April 14, 2020, allows remote notarial acts during the public health emergency and state of emergency declared by Gov. Phil Murphy in Executive Order 103 of 2020. The law allows both notary publics and officers, including attorneys, who are authorized by law to take oaths, affirmations, affidavits or acknowledgements, to engage in notarial acts using technology that allows the parties to communicate simultaneously by both sight and sound. 

The law requires that the notary or officer have satisfactory evidence of the identity of the individual before them either through personal knowledge, oath or affirmation from a credible witness appearing before them, or using at least two different types of identity proofing from public or private data sources. The notary or officer must reasonably be able to confirm that the record before them is the same record executed by the remote individual or over which the remote individual made a statement. Finally, the notary, officer or an individual acting on their behalf is required to create an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act. The recording is required to be maintained for a period of at least 10 years and the notarized document must indicate that the act was performed using communication technology. The law provides limited exclusions for records governed by the Uniform Commercial Code and records governed by laws related to adoption, divorce or other family law matters.

The remotely situated individual does not need to be located within the state of New Jersey at the time of the notarial act. However, if the individual is located outside of the United States the record must either relate to a matter before an entity subject to U.S. jurisdiction, involve property located within U.S. territorial jurisdiction, or involve a transaction substantially connected to the U.S. In all cases, the act of making the statement or executing the record must be legal in the foreign state where the individual is located.

The law provides necessary latitude to conduct real estate transactions, business transactions and to provide estate planning services while social distancing guidelines are in place. The law expires upon the rescission of the Governor’s Executive Order.

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