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State

Remote notarization now in effect in Iowa after governor issues emergency waiver

DES MOINES — The in-person requirement for notarizing documents is temporarily waived for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, Gov. Kim Reynolds declared earlier this week. The requirements are subject to guidance provided by Iowa Secretary of State of State Paul Pate.

A new law allowing remote notarization in Iowa was scheduled to take effect on July 1. Gov. Reynolds declaration accelerates the timeline.

“I’ve been a longtime advocate for remote notarization as long as the integrity measures are kept in place,” Pate said. “During this crisis, waiving the in-person requirement is a necessity. We want to help Iowans conduct important business and other vital transactions while maintaining social distancing. Remote notarization will help commerce continue.”

The temporary guidelines that apply during the emergency waiver of the in-person requirement are below:

• The new remote notary law is currently scheduled to take effect on July 1. Notaries are advised that as that date approaches, we will be re-evaluating what the changeover will look like and will issue further guidance at that time. Questions may be emailed to the Secretary of State’s Office at notary@sos.iowa.gov.Under the emergency declaration, remote notarial acts must conform to all the provisions in Iowa Administrative Code 721-43, Iowa Code chapter 9B, and every provision of Section 6 of Senate File 475.

• Section 6 requires the use a software service designed for the purpose of facilitating remote online notarization, as opposed to services that primarily offer video-conferencing ability. Online notarization services include the necessary identity-proofing, e-signing, and recording/storage capabilities.

• Even though the revised administrative rules are not yet in effect, the ARC 4997C draft is available online and will help notaries ensure they will be in compliance when they do take effect at legis.iowa.gov/docs/aco/bulletin/03-25-2020.pdf

• Section 6 requires notaries to register with our office before performing any remote notarial acts.  A web application is available to complete and submit on our website at at sos.iowa.gov/remotenotary

• It is strongly advised that notaries follow the training on how to use the remote online notarization service provided by the service they choose.

• Verification of the customer’s identity is of critical. Notaries are advised to be certain that the video resolution through the service they choose is sufficient to see identity-proofing documents clearly, and that the audio clarity is sufficient to understand everything the customer says.

• Notaries are reminded that they are professionally responsible for properly performing notarizations under the law, even in this emergency context.

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