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Civil Code § 1181.1 – Remote Online Notarization (RON) in California

California is slowly allowing remote online notarization, first through notaries from states that allow online notarization, then eventually through online notarization performed by California notaries. This means that California residents while in California can notarize documents online without a paper copy that is shuffled around the state, being lost in the mail or otherwise.

Out of State Notarizes Can Already Perform Online Notarizations for Persons in California Under Civil Code 1182

Regardless of when California allows California notaries to perform remote online notarizations, California residents do not need to wait to take advantage of the benefits of remote online notarizations.

This is because California Civil Code § 1182(d) was amended January 1, 2024, to provide that: “The proof or acknowledgment of an instrument may be taken without this state, but within the United States, and within the jurisdiction of the officer, by any of the following:…A notary public.” Moreover, Civil Code § 1989 explains that: “A witness, including a witness specified in subdivision (b) of Section 1987, is not obliged to attend as a witness before any court, judge, justice or any other officer, unless the witness is a resident within the state at the time of service.”

The existing California laws mean that companies like Notarize.com and OneNotary.us can perform online notarizations that should be accepted by any government official in California for a resident who was residing in California. In fact, they should accept this notarization even when the resident was not in California.

For example, documents such as a severance of joint tenancy, helpful to partition lawyers in California, can be executed online by the client located in California or anywhere in America on the day of engagement for a partition action, then sent for prompt recording. Prompt recording of documents is preferred to those who sleep on their rights.

California Civil Code 1181 – Notaries Within California

As for California notarizes: “The proof or acknowledgment of an instrument may be made before a notary public at any place within this state…” Civ. Code § 1181. This statute means what we already know: that California notaries can acknowledge (notarize) an instrument in California.

Civil Code § 1181.1 and Electronic Notarization AKA Remote Online Notarization (RON)

California is slowly dipping its toes in the water of online notarization, sometimes known as remote online notarization (RON), by implementing a law that became effective January 1, 2024 that merely calls for the Secretary of State to implement a technology project for online notarizations.

Online Notarization Act (SB 696) Will Eventually Allow California Notaries to Perform Online Notarizations

SB 696 explains that it allows “a notary public to apply for registration with the secretary to be a notary public authorized to perform online notarizations…” The Act, known as the Online Notarization Act, will allow California notaries to register with the state for approval to perform remote online notarizations (RON) using audio-visual communication. The Secretary of State is required to adopt rules and regulations to implement requirements relating to data security and privacy in online notarial transactions. How and when is not entirely clear at this point.

Senate Bill 696 is codified as Civil Code §§ 1181.1, 1182 and 1183, and Government Code §§ 8207.1, 8214.1 and 8231 through 8231.19 and 8232 through 8232.4.

Civil Code § 1181.1 – Interim Statute for Remote Online Notarization

California has two statutes, both labeled Civil Code Section 1181.1, the first of which provides as follows:

<Section operative Jan. 1, 2030, or when the Secretary of State certifies completion of the technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization, whichever is earlier. See, also, § 1181.1 operative until Jan. 1, 2030, or when the Secretary of State certifies completion of the technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization, whichever is earlier.>

(a) Section 1181 shall not be construed to authorize any person, other than a notary public authorized by the Secretary of State to perform online notarizations pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 8231) of Chapter 3 of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to take a proof or acknowledgment of an instrument by means of appearances using audio-video communication, as that term is defined in subdivision (a) of Section 8231.1 of the Government Code.
(b) A California notary public shall not provide online notarization for any principal, and an online notarization platform shall not be authorized for use by a California notary public, until the earlier of the following:
(1) Certification by the Secretary of State on its internet website that the Secretary of State’s technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization is complete.
(2) January 1, 2030, unless the Secretary of State informs the Legislature and the Governor in writing on or before January 1, 2029, that the technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization will not be completed by January 1, 2030, including a detailed status of the technology project.
(c) This section shall remain in effect until the attainment of paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (b), and as of that date is repealed.

Civil Code § 1181.1

The key to this version is that it will remain effective until the Secretary of State has completed the technology project.

Civil Code § 1181.1 – The Future Statute for Remote Online Notarization in California

After the Secretary of STate has completed the technology project, the statute will read as follows:

<Section operative Jan. 1, 2030, or when the Secretary of State certifies completion of the technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization, whichever is earlier. See, also, § 1181.1 operative until Jan. 1, 2030, or when the Secretary of State certifies completion of the technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization, whichever is earlier.>

(a) Section 1181 shall not be construed to authorize any person, other than a notary public authorized by the Secretary of State to perform online notarizations pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 8231) of Chapter 3 of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to take a proof or acknowledgment of an instrument by means of appearances using audio-video communication, as that term is defined in subdivision (a) of Section 8231.1 of the Government Code.

(b) This section shall become operative upon the earlier of the following:

(1) Certification by the Secretary of State on its internet website that the Secretary of State’s technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization is complete.

(2) January 1, 2030, unless the Secretary of State informs the Legislature and the Governor in writing on or before January 1, 2029, that the technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization will not be completed by January 1, 2030, including a detailed status of the technology project.

Civ. Code, § 1181.1

Current Real Estate Document Notarization in California

Certain documents in California required notarization. Such documents can include mortgage documents, quitclaim deeds, grant deeds, and many others. California does not currently allow California notaries to perform online notarizations. However, notaries from other states may notarize California documents online. Note that certain counties or entities may still not recognize out-of-state electronic notarizations, so it’s best to check with whomever is receiving the document.

Talkov Law Can Help

As California’s #1 source for partition attorneys, we have developed efficient strategies to end co-ownership disputes, including through the use of remote online notarization. If you are looking to obtain the value from the your co-owned real property at California, contact us for a free consultation online or at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568).

About Scott Talkov

Scott Talkov is a partition lawyer in California. He founded Talkov Law Corp. after more than one decade of experience with one of the region's oldest law firms, where he served as one of the firm's partners. He has been featured on ABC 7, CNN, KCBS, and KCAL-9, and in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Press-Enterprise, and in Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine. Scott has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for 9 consecutive years. He can be reached about new matters at info@talkovlaw.com or (844) 4-TALKOV (825568). He can also be contacted directly at scott@talkovlaw.com.

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