File types for eNotarization

This post will focus on the Windows operating system, but similar issues apply to Linux, Mac OS, and the operating systems for IBM mainframes. When we think of the type of documents that are likely to be notarized, PDF immediately comes to mind, but there are other file formats that are designed to accommodate digital signatures, and there could be use cases for notarizing in these formats.

Perhaps the most obvious PDF alternative would be the Microsoft Office formats, including Word and Excel. These programs have built-in electronic signature support, and many people have access to these programs. Access to the program needed to create PDFs with digital signatures, Adobe Acrobat, is much more limited. There are freeware alternatives to Microsoft Office, such as libreoffice/ although their eSignatures are not compatible with Microsoft Office.

A less common format, but potentially important in the real estate world, is Autocad (.dwg). This is a popular format for technical drawings, including land surveys.

If a notary obtains a digital certificate from a general-purpose certificate authority, such as IdenTrust the notary could use it to notarize any of the files described above. But if the notary uses one of the online platforms specifically intended for eNotarizations, such as DocVerify, the result will always be a PDF. Obviously, such formats won't be useful for some situations. For example, when viewing an AutoCad drawing, one can easily zoom in and out, measure distances, and turn layers on and off; those actions would be impossible or difficult with a PDF.


Quiz on new Vermont notary law

I have created a quiz about the new Vermont notary law, Act 160 of the 2017-18 session (PDF). It is based on, but not identical to the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA). A version of RULONA that includes some commentary by the group that created it is available (PDF).

Remember I'm not an expert; you should do your own research and consult experts as necessary before relying on any information from this quiz.


You agree with me, but I'm not in a position of authority, so check with an expert before relying on the information implied by the quiz.

You don't agree with me, but I'm not in a position of authority. Check with an expert before relying on information implied by the quiz.

#1 After July 1, 2019, what new notarial act will you be able to perform?

Witnessing a signature is the new notarial act, and the correct notarial wording must be in, or added to, the record.

#2 In the new law, a "record" could be any of the following EXCEPT

#3 An example of a tangible record is

#4 Under the new law, for tangible records,

#5 A land surveyor requests a notarization for a drawing on mylar, but the notary's stamp would smear. The notary should

#6 Why should a notary wait until being commissioned before ordering an official stamp?

The contents of the official stamp are not in the law, but the Office of Professional Regulation has posted a sample on their website, and it contains a commission number.

#7 Referring to § 5367 of the new law (Act 160), the requirement "(2) be signed and dated by the notary public and be signed in the same manner as on file with the Office", if the record is electronic,

No rules about electronic notarizations have been published as of December 4, 2018.

#8 Under the new law, which notarial act is no longer authorized?

#9 According to § 5304 of the new law, which of these is a verification on oath or affirmation?



Use cases for electronic notarization by Vermont notaries

When are Vermont notaries likely to perform electronic notarizations (e-notarizations)? Lets begin by distinguishing between

  • in-person e-notarizations, where the notary and the signer meet in a place with computer(s) and perform the signing and notarization on one or more computers, and
  • remote e-notarizations, where the notary and signer are in different locations and communicate via the internet, with voice and video communications, plus an ability to send the document to be signed and notarized back and forth.

Virginia already has a head start in remote e-notarization, and other states are also allowing their notaries to perform these for signers located anywhere in the world. Since Vermont notaries won't be authorized to do this until July 1, 2019, at the earliest, it will be hard for Vermont notaries to catch up. Probably the best chance would be if large services farm out the actual notarizations to notaries who work from home, a sort of cottage industry. (This post isn't addressing whether remote e-notarizations are a good idea; the general assembly has decided to authorize them so the debate is largely over.)

The cases where in-person e-notarization by Vermont notaries incude

  • notarization of documents that need to be in electronic form for individuals who don't have the identification documents or credit history needed for remote e-notarization
  • notarization where electronic documents are required but one or more stakeholders are skeptical of remote e-notarization
  • notarization of electronic files in a format not supported by the mass-market remote e-notarization providers; for this option to be available in Vermont, the Vermont notary rules will need a sufficiently flexible e-notarization approval process.