Notarization is often the first step for legalizing a document – and it’s usually done in person.
With social distancing requirements and the need for non-essential workers to conduct daily business remotely, many states are implementing emergency measures to allow for alternatives to the standard in-person notarization process.
Many of these alternatives are being put in place via executive order and in some cases, like New York, states are establishing built-in time limits. The National Notary Association has a very helpful resource outlining the measures states around the country have adopted to allow remote notarization during the current pandemic.
Considerations for Document Legalization
If you are considering having a document legalized, either by apostille or consular legalization, it is important to first determine whether a remote notarization will be accepted by the issuing authority. Other factors can also play a role in this case.
For example, in New York, a notary’s signature and stamp must be verified by the county clerk of the county where the notary is authorized. However, many county clerk’s offices in New York State are currently closed or not processing this type of request, eliminating the ability to get the document authenticated or apostilled. States with county clerk verification requirements include Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Note that the requirements can vary depending on the type of document to be authenticated. In some cases, these requirements may only apply to vital records.
Prior to beginning the process, whether using a remote notary or an in-person notary, it’s a good idea to ensure that you are aware of all the required steps, as well as whether the public authorities are currently open and able to complete them. Please refer to Coronavirus: Closures Affecting Document Authentication and Legalization for further information on embassy and government office closures that can impact the legalization process.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.