COVID-19 Notary Update

In the midst of this pandemic, we’re sure you’re wondering how safety precautions like “safer at home” will impact your business or your commission timeline. Here is the latest information we’ve received. 

Response to the outbreak has varied state by state, with several making accommodations to allow for remote video notarizations. Such is not the case for California, which by law, requires personal appearance in order for a notarization to take place. Choosing jobs should be guided by activities that are considered essential, like mortgage closings and health care related documents. But always follow federal, state and county guidelines and restrictions regarding work and travel. 

The Secretary of State’s office had this to say:

“Although the California Secretary of State’s office cannot determine whether or not notarial services provided are deemed essential during this pandemic, California Notaries Public are not prohibited from performing a notarial act during a shelter in place order. However, our office does recommend that California Notaries Public contact their respective county health officers for guidance.”

Keep proper social distance between you and your signer. Wash your hands before and after the transaction. Wear gloves and a mask, if necessary. It might be a good idea to call ahead and check with your signer to see if he or she is exhibiting symptoms. Above all, it’s important to keep yours and the public’s health at the forefront of your decision making. 

If neither you nor your signer feel comfortable meeting face to face,  the Secretary of State advises that you may direct them to seek a notarization from a state that does allow for remote notarizations, if necessary. “California Civil Code 1189(b) provides that any certificate of acknowledgment taken in another place shall be sufficient in this state if it is taken in accordance with the law of the place where the acknowledgment is made.” This means that the certificate from the state selected should essentially indicate the same information as California certificates, no more and no less.

Renewing and new Notary applicants are surely wondering about filing deadlines. With the Safer at Home order, many government offices have chosen to close for the time being. However, mail service is still occuring. So, if you’d like to be on the safe side and you’re ready to file, you can send your application via certified or registered mail or any form of delivery that provides a receipt.  If you’d like to go this route, you’ll have to find another notary who can administer your oaths. Then mail all your application materials in.

 Make sure your application includes all of the following:

  • A photocopy of your commission certificate.
  • Your original bond signed by you.
  • A photocopy of your bond.
  • Two signed and notarized oaths of office forms (you’ll have to find a Notary and have these notarized in your county).
  • Filing fees (check your county clerk/recorder’s website for information on fees).
  • A daytime phone number where you can be reached.
  • Provide a  letter requesting a conformed copy of your bond as confirmation that it has been filed.
  • Provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope (to return the conformed copy).

Take special note of the last two bullet points. If the letter requesting the conformed copy of the bond and the envelope are not included, your filing will not be confirmed.

I reached out to the Secretary of State’s office yesterday to see if they are allowing extensions for anyone who’s filing deadline falls during the “shelter in place” order. We will send an update as soon as we receive their response. They also advise on their website that they are communicating over the phone and via email, if you prefer to reach out to them yourself. 

www.sos.ca.gov/administration/contact-information/#bpd

Wishing you all good health as we hunker down and get through this together. We’ll be in touch with updates as they become available. 

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