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Maine Adjusts Notarization and Acknowledgement Requirements

Drew Sigfridson, SIOR  /   April 9, 2020

 

On Wednesday, April 8th, 2020, Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order   allowing remote notarization. The Order, effective immediately, temporarily suspends the provisions of Maine law that require the physical presence of a notary or witness with certain exceptions. The Order permits Maine people to conduct important business that requires sworn statements or affidavits with minimal in-person interaction. The Order also establishes parameters to conduct remote notarization services in order to safeguard the integrity of transactions.

Conditions:

• Notary and signatory must physically be within the State

• Notarization may be completed remotely via two-way audio-video communication technology with the following provisions:

The two-way audio-video communication technology must allow direct contemporaneous interaction between the signatory, the notary and any witness by sight and sound in real time ( e.g. with no pre-recordings)

The signatory must be reasonably identified by the notary

• The signatory must initial each page of the document and  the act of signing and initialing must be captured sufficiently up close on the two-way audio-video communication for the notary to observe

• The signatory must transmit by fax or electronic a legible copy of the entire signed document directly to the notary and any witness, no later than 24 hours after the signatory’s execution of the document

• The signatory must send the original signed document directly to the witness within 48 hours after the signatory’s execution of the document, or to the notary if no witness is involved

• Any document that is required to be notarized “in the presence and hearing” of a signatory, and is compliant with this order, will be deemed to have been notarized in the presence and hearing of the signatory

• Remote notarization will not be deemed invalid or impaired if one of these conditions is not met, so long as the notarization was performed in substantial compliance with the order

• There are a number of additional conditions outlined in the order and the secretary of state may also issue additional guidance

Exceptions:

• Solemnizing marriages

• Administering oaths to circulators of state or local direct initiatives or referendum petitions and nomination petitions of candidates for electoral office

• Absentee ballots in state and local elections

The order terminates 30 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, unless sooner amended or rescinded.

*It is important to note that this Order authorizes remote, not electronic, notarization. All requirements under Maine law pertaining to the taking of sworn statements and acknowledgments by notaries and those authorized to perform notarial acts, other than the requirement to appear in person, remain in effect during the effective period of this Order.



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