Change in Alabama Notary Law Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

hand signing a document

On March 26, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed an executive order allowing attorneys who are Notaries as well as Notaries working under the supervision of an attorney to use videoconferencing technologies to perform notarial acts during the coronavirus pandemic.

This law provides Alabama attorneys who are Notaries and Notaries who work under the supervision of an Alabama attorney to notarize signatures through videoconferencing systems, such as WebEx and Zoom, and confirm the signatures of witnesses who participate virtually through the videoconference as though they were physically present at the signing. This law also provides that any person who serves as a witness to a document through videoconference may be considered an “in person” witness, provided that the presence and identity of said witness is validated by the Notary at the time of the singing by the same identification standards required by law. The date and time of the notarization shall be the date and time in which the Notary witnesses the signature via the videoconference, and requires that all documentation be returned to the Notary for certification and execution.

When implementing these changes into practice, the Notary should take extra precautions to ensure the validity of the notarization. If possible, the Notary should record and securely save the videoconference, a feature that is available on many videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom. Additionally, during the videoconference, the Notary must be able, in real time, to compare visually the signer of the document with the information presented on the identification document. If the videoconference is unable to be recorded, the Notary should save screenshots of the identification presented, the signer of the document, and the documents being signed and notarized. For example, if the identification presented is a valid government issues driver’s license, the Notary should screenshot both the front and back of the driver’s license. If the videoconference is being recorded, the signer of the document should identify him or herself by name, address, and date of birth and should confirm the form of the identification presented. Furthermore, when the documents are sent to the Notary for certification and execution, copies of the government-issued identification relied upon in the videoconference should also be included.

The executive order put the law into effect on March 26, 2020, and it will remain in full force and effect for the duration of the public health emergency unless it is rescinded or extended by proclamation.