In the 2008 movie Mamma Mia!, hotel owner Donna Sheridan comments that her soon-to-be son-in-law will be publicizing her Villa Donna to the world by putting her “on the line.” She claims to be current with the new technology of “the Internets” wondering why no one has invented a machine that makes the beds. We had a similar thought recently regarding those “Internets” when we had to have several documents notarized for use back in the US. Given that a notarial act must generally be conducted within the state where the notary holds a commission, it was going to be a challenge with the Atlantic ocean between us and travel heavily restricted. Time for an “on the line” search for a solution.
It is possible to have documents notarized in France by personally visiting the US embassy in Paris or possibly the consulates in Marseille or Strasbourg. The fee is $50 per document, you need an appointment, and of course you must travel there. As romantic as it might sound to say that we’re popping up to Paris for the night, the reality of traveling during a pandemic made it less attractive, especially since we hadn’t been vaccinated yet. Since we had 4 documents, the fee was going to be $200 plus roundtrip rail fare, a hotel night(s), and supermarket food since restaurants were closed. There had to be a better way.
And there was: remote notary, a process that was started by the Virginia legislature in 2011 with at least 25 other states having now followed the lead. Typically all states will accept notarial acts legally performed in another state, but we still confirmed with our US contact that her company would be happy with this process. I found an article on Investopedia (link below) that reviewed 6 online notary services, providing pros and cons for each. We chose a company that allows reservations in advance so we had time to scan each document as a pdf and familiarize ourselves with the process ahead of time. Up to 6 hours before the appointment we could upload our documents to our account along with my ID ( photo of my passport) and credit card information. At the appointment time we logged into our account, the notary did the same and started an online audio/video session. He then had me attach my electronic signature, he attached his electronic signature plus his electronic seal and we were finished. The completed files stayed in our account for seven days and were then removed by the notary for security purposes. The fee was $25 for the first document and $6 for each of the others.
To use the services of this remote notary we had to:
- Have a US Social Security number
- Have a US ID such as a passport or driver’s license
- Have a credit card for payment
- Have a smartphone to take a photo of my ID
- Realize that the notarized document would have only electronic signatures and seals; no inked or hand-squeezed impressions.
Investopedia notary review: https://www.investopedia.com/best-online-notary-services-5085059