Why Foreigners Are Unlikely to Currently Benefit from Florida’s New Remote Notarization Law
Updated: Feb 13, 2020
A few recent articles about Florida’s new law allowing for remote notarizations have stated that this change will allow for notarizations over the internet by a Florida notary public where the person acknowledging or swearing to the document is located outside of the United States. Technically, Florida Statute Section 117.201 et seq. allows for the remote notarization of a document by a Florida online notary public where the person executing it is located abroad. However, there are certain requirements that must first be met before the person located abroad will be able to have his or her document notarized over the Internet. And it is those requirements which will give U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents located abroad, in contrast to foreigners, the distinct advantage of being able to have their documents notarized abroad without having to leave their home or temporary residence to visit a U.S. Embassy, Florida civil law notary, Florida commissioner of deeds, or a local notary.
Florida’s new remote notarization law, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, sets forth three (3) requirements that must be met before a Florida online notary may notarize a document for an unknown individual, regardless of where the person whose electronic signature is acknowledged, witnessed, or attested to or who takes an oath or affirmation (“the principal”) is located. In particular, Florida Statute Section 117.265 provides that the online notary must confirm the identity of the principal using the notary’s personal knowledge or by satisfying the following requirements:
1. ensuring that each principal presented a government issued identification credential, such as a Florida driver’s license, U.S. Passport, or a foreign government issued passport with U.S. Visa;
2. ensuring that government identification credential has passed the credential analysis; and
3. ensuring the identity proofing of each principal using “knowledge based authentication” (“KBA”) or another manner of identity proofing that conforms to the requirements set-forth in the notarization statutes.
See Fla. Stat. Sec. 117.265(4)(b).
Where the above requirement is not satisfied or if the databases used for identity proofing do not contain sufficient information to permit authentication, the online notary will not be permitted to perform the online notarization.
As of the writing of this article, the existing KBA technology uses social security numbers to verify the identity of the principal, which most foreigners do not possess. As there is not sufficient KBA available to verify the identity of most foreigners, the notarizations of documents signed by principals abroad for use in Florida will need to be conducted face-to-face before a Florida commissioner of deeds, a Florida civil law notary appointed pursuant to Chapter 118 of the Florida Statutes, a notary of such foreign country who has an official seal, or before an ambassador, envoy, extraordinary, minister plenipotentiary, minister, commissioner, charge d'affaires, consul general, consul, vice consul, consular agent, or other diplomatic or consular officer of the United States appointed to reside in such country, or before a U.S. military or naval officer authorized to perform the duties of notary public.