Why Do I Need a Notary? + Alternatives to Notary

 In Digital Signature, Digital Transformation, eNotary, KYC, Notary

Chances are if you are reading this, you have experienced the requirement to have a document notarized (fun times…). I think we can all agree that this requirement typically happens at the most inopportune times, gets delegated to the bottom of the list, requires driving to a local UPS Store, and thus causes delays in getting a process completed. The reason this requirement exists boils down to one simple reason:


Notarization is an alternative that financial service enterprises (and other highly regulated industries) offer as a substitute for an in-person meeting for the purpose of validating identity and mitigating fraud. In most cases customers are left with two inconvenient choices: drive to a branch office for a face to face meeting or print out documents and hunt for a local notary to visit their house.  

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a third option… built using modern technology, that re-creates the in-person experience and allows for virtual customer interactions anytime, anywhere and from any device?  

What is a Notary?

A notary is essentially a state government-appointed individual who can act as a verifier or impartial witness to various legally binding documents. Their primary responsibility is to verify identity, certify that the parties involved are who they say they are and agree to the terms in said document.

A Notary Public is a crucial actor in signing of the documents for private citizens. They allow people to execute legally-binding documents in a variety of settings, without having to show up in a federal or state office.

Common Types of Notarizations & Notarized Documents

In order to get the appropriate acknowledgments on a legally binding document, different types of specific legal documents and notarizations are needed. Here are the most common different types of notarized documents:

  • Jurats– this is a very common type of notarized document that allows a person to legally affirm the information contained in a document. For this document, the signer must personally appear and sign the document in the presence of the notary public
  • Oaths & Affirmations – oaths and affirmations aren’t necessarily signed documents, but verbal agreements of the truth. The most common version of this notarization is the oath witnesses take before testimony
  • Copy Certifications – when copies of official documents are needed, copy certifications are a type of notarized document that verifies the copy is – in fact – a verified version. This comes in handy when obtaining copies of titles, certificates, and more
  • Signature Witnessing – this is a common type of notarization where the notary public visually verifies the person signing the document is who they say they are through ID verification

Remote Notary Laws

Until recently, notarial acts were strictly performed in person based on legislative requirements state by state. Within the last 2 years, several states have passed legislation permitting remote electronic notarizations (sometimes called webcam or online notarization) using a technology platform and identity proofing process approved by the state.  As more and more states adopt similar legislation, Liveoak will continue to develop solutions that enable remote notary. (See our previous post on this…)

Eliminating Notarization Requirements with Liveoak

Liveoak helps financial institutions meet regulatory requirements in a digital and/or remote environment by providing a customer onboarding and virtual engagement platform that re-creates the in-person experience. Livoak’s software-as-a-service platform integrates with existing IT infrastructure and combines modern conferencing, forms collaboration, e-Signature, efficient data/I.D. capture, and a comprehensive System-of-Audit™.  We essentially create a new option for financial institutions to offer as an alternative to in-branch visits, notary, medallion signature guarantees, and consulate/embassy visits (international use cases).

Learn how Liveoak’s Virtual Interactions™ can help you streamline KYC compliance and help you interact with your customers by reading our white papers below:

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