According to the Notary Association, there were more than 5 million notaries in the U.S. in 2020. Online or digital notary services also have the same foundational principle as traditional notarization. In 2022, many states have legislation that allows online notarization.

The truth is that virtual notarization makes more sense in the digital age than in-person notarization. On the flip side, a big chunk of notarization across the U.S. still revolves around paper-based notarization. Still, the changing shift to online notarization and electronic notarization prompts an urgent need to learn more information.

Online notarization vs. electronic notarization vs. mobile notarization: differences, similarities, and terms

When it comes to electronic notarization, remote notary, and mobile notary, there are some subtle and major differences. In most cases, people have a basic idea about notarization vs. electronic notarization. However, when “remote”, “online”, and “digital” terms come into the picture, people often get caught in the cobweb of confusion.

If you’re looking to notarize important documents in the market, you may have had to go through some specific terms like a traditional notary public, electronic notary, e-notary, mobile notary, and Remote Online Notarization. These are the hallmark terms in the notarization world. But it is natural to get confused if you’re not familiar with the context of different types of notarization.

Keeping that in mind, let’s break down the differences between mobile notarization, electronic notarization, remote online notarization, and similar terms:

  1. What is a notary public?
  2. Types of notarial acts
  3. What is a mobile notary?
  4. What is an electronic notary?
  5. What is a remote online notary?
  6. Are online notarization and electronic notarization the same?
  7. Notarize your documents with PandaDoc Notary

1. What is a notary public?

Now, to understand different notarizations and how they work, you need to first understand the role of the notary public. A notary public refers to a state-appointed individual who operates as an impartial witness and signs the essential documents. The main objective of a notary public is to deter fraud. In 2021, old school notary publics are still widely popular.

Mostly, you can find these notaries in shipping stores, banks, and legal offices. But unlike modern-day online notary services, public notary works only at specific hours. It means folks have to seek services from the notary public around their specified schedule. For instance, if you wish to travel, look for a conventional public notary before making final plans.

2. Types of notarial acts

Yes, there is more than one type of notarial act. Many people have started to lean towards online notarization as it saves resources and time. But despite different functions and use cases of different types of notarizations, they all help people achieve the same objective.

Typically, you can notarize documents through:

  • Mobile notary
  • Electronic notarization
  • Online notary or Remote Online Notarization (RON)

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3. What is a mobile notary?

A mobile notary refers to a conventional-style notary who performs notarization. Oftentimes, people talk about a mobile notary in the same sense as a traveling public notary. As the title suggests, mobile notaries extract the guesswork to find out notary leads.

Mobile notaries find people in need of notarization. The major perk of a mobile notary is that it is flexible and you can schedule at a specific time that is suitable to you. And unlike conventional notaries, mobile notaries are not bound by restrictions.

However, mobile notaries usually charge a fee for travel and additional expenses. And since mobile notaries are coming straight to you, there is often a big convenience fee. Mobile notaries can offer service at any time and anywhere. This allows people to schedule long hours of operations on their own time.

Appointment booking is the fundamental difference that sets mobile notaries apart from other types of notaries. On the other hand, finding the “right” mobile notary can be time-consuming than opting for an electronic, remote, or traditional notary public.

4. What is an electronic notary?

The electronic notary is also famous as an e-Notary and refers to the notarization of documents electronically. Plus, the electronic notary requires involved parties to be present in the same space. In electronic notarization, the notary includes an electronic tamper-proof seal rather than a regular paper-based ink signature.

After an electronic seal, no unauthorized individual can change the original document. Similarly, an electronic seal creates more security than the traditional notarization of paper documents. Since the recipient requests electronic access rather than paper form, it has made electronic notary services highly sought out in the market.

Electronic notarization works in favor of all parties with complete transparency. And just like traditional notary service, electronic notary service from a public notary signifies an official notarial act. But unlike remote notarization, you cannot perform electronic notarization remotely.

Over the years, e-notarizations or electronic notarizations have become permissible in most states. With e-notarization, you can notarize a document in electronic format like PDF rather than a physical paper. Like the traditional method, public notaries use electronic stamps from a computer as a digital signature seal. However, most states have their own processes and requirements for electronic notarization.

At its core, electronic signature and stamp need to be independent, unique, and verifiable. After electronic stamping, the digital document carries around the official notary stamp that no unauthorized user can remove or alter.

It is vital to understand that not every notary has the authority or the skill to perform electronic notarization. In fact, a notary first has to register with the official body of the Commonwealth Secretary. Notary also has to demonstrate advanced tech skills associated with electronic seals and signatures.

5. What is a remote online notary?

Online notary or Remote Online Notarization (RON) is the modern practice of notarizing documents. In the past few years, Remote Online Notarization or RON has been in the spotlight. After all, the idea of notarizing any document online appeals to everyone.

Tech experts believe that Remote Online Notarization (RON) is a highly secure approach to notarize documents. Plus, it cuts out the need for in-person signing at the same time. In fact, the notarization through RON with audio-visual feed on a mobile device or a computer is incredibly easy. It is the main reason remote or online notaries are becoming more popular.

Remote Online Notarization (RON) basics and its benefits

There is a wide range of remote online notarization services. The fact of the matter is that remote notarization is a simplified process to notarize documents and involve participants through video conference.

A decade ago, remote notaries may not have been as popular as mobile and traditional paper-based notarizations. With the advent of the IT revolution, the tide is changing for good and Remote Online Notarization has become the center of attention in the notary landscape.

Whether it’s accessibility, compatibility, or flexibility, RON checks out all boxes that have made the notarization process more efficient than ever. If you run a company, notarizing documents through RON is a simple process. You just need to upload relevant documents online and complete basic identity authentication. After that, you can connect with the involved parties and download or print a specific notarized document.

During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Remote Online Notarization became a new standard in the notary space. Most recently, many states decided to lift traditional restrictions on Remote Online Notarization, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. With RON, a few steps to notarize any document have become the value proposition of many services. The key is to opt for live RON services that provide custom solutions for different types of documents.

Benefits of Remote Online Notarization

Since the COVID-19 crisis, Remote Online Notarization has had a positive impact in the financial world and continues to grow its popularity and practicality. Whether it’s dedicated notifications, continued and non-disruptive notarization process, or shared participation, remote online notarization has a variety of benefits.

Error alerts

One of the major pitfalls of paper-based notary processes is incurring endless and unexpected human errors. In RON, users get dedicated alerts and notifications if there is a missed signature. Furthermore, Remote Online Notarization solutions trigger alerts and flag incorrect or missing fields. It is the best way for users to avoid common mistakes and delays. Not to mention, it gives users more wiggle room to proactive notarize documents.

High security and improved fraud prevention

Unlike traditional paper-based notarization that involves manual authentication of IDs, remote online notarization comes with an automated review. RON offers identity credential analysis, which works as an added security and reviewing layer to notarize documents.

Better borrower experience

Unlike the traditional notary process that requires the physical presence of all parties and can take a lot of time, a remote online notarization is a convenient approach for borrowers. With online scheduled appointments at a suitable time, borrowers can accelerate the closing process and get transfer loan funds quickly. On top of all, borrowers can maintain a presence in the same digital atmosphere until closing.

Saves time and improves turnaround rate

Like borrowers, Remote Online Notarization also works in favor of lenders in the financial world. RON helps lenders save valuable time and maintain a stable turnaround rate. Lenders leverage online notarization to become more efficient and eliminate travel expenses.

In fact, notaries can now provide digital certificates and verify electronic documents in an instant. Furthermore, remote online notarization incurs little to no errors that improve overall turnaround time.  As end-to-end online processes become mainstream, lenders use remote online notarization for closing documents. With RON, signing, notarizing, and as well as processing documents on the same day has become possible.

Reliable and sustainable process

Another hallmark benefit of remote online notarization is its reliability and sustainability to notarize documents. Besides, most applications now require the printing of hundreds of paper pages. It means the sustainability of RON helps individuals and companies save a good chunk of time and resources.

6. Are online notarization and electronic notarization the same?

As mentioned earlier, online notarization doesn’t require the physical presence of participants like electronic notarization. In layman’s terms, you can e-sign, notarize, and process documents online without having to be physically present in the same space.

But electronic notarization mandates the signer and notary to be present in the same space or room. Objectively, however, electronic notarization and online notarization use similar technology. Remember that not every electronic notary is an online notary, but all remote online notaries classify as electronic notaries. And that’s because the tech that fuels the functionality of both types of notaries are (almost) the same.

In terms of convenience, remote online notarization tops electronic notarization. But the process to notarize documents for both types of notarizations is simple. With RON, you don’t have to change your daily routine or drive to a specific destination to sign the document.

Remote notarization also offers 24/7 flexibility for all involved participants. When it comes to complex documents, you can count on a professional notary partner to notarize documents remotely. The good news is that you don’t have to endlessly look for a nearby notary to notarize a document.

With remote notarization, you partake in an automated and secure process. Although the adoption of RON is not yet 100% complete, approval and compliance are the only drawbacks of this type of notarization.

Also, authentication of signers’ ID is easy on both electronic notarization and remote online notarization. When it comes to electronic notarization, Remote Online Notarization, and mobile notarization, your objective should be to focus on the main differences.

7. Notarize your documents with PandaDoc Notary

PandaDoc Notary helps many businesses understand the process and use cases of Remote Online Notarization (RON). Think of PandaDoc Notary as an all-in-one platform that can cater to different RON needs.

We offer simple and fast online notarization solutions that make notarizing effortless. We can help businesses notarize documents online in the blink of an eye. 

At PandaDoc Notary, we also raise more awareness about Remote Online Notarization and help signers figure out different processes and functions of modern notary space. Get started with PandaDoc Notary and avail the best tools and expertise right now.

Final thoughts

Since more and more notary service providers have become accessible in the market, it has become complicated for people to narrow down the best options. Still, notarizations represent significant milestones in people’s lives. Notarization becomes essential when you have to complete the paperwork for getting married, preparing a will, a power of attorney, completing jurats, or real estate transactions. In the coming years, online notarization services are bound to get more popular.


What states allow online notary?

There are currently 38 states that have adopted some form of temporary or permanent Remote Online notarization (RON) laws. These states include: 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland 
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin 
  • Wyoming

Each state has its own laws & requirements that stipulate how online notarization services must be carried out. Both the notary and document signers are responsible for being familiar with these requirements before notarization. 

What states allow electronic notary?

Electronic notarization is allowed in all 50 states thanks to the passing of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) by congress in 2000. The UETA allows the use of electronic signatures (eSignatures) to complete transactions and notarizations. 

What are the most important purposes of notarization?

Notarization is important because it allows a document to be accepted as legally binding in all 50 states. Every state has its own set of notarization requirements, however all states require that the signers verify their identities and apply their signatures in the presence of a commissioned notary public.

Adhering to these requirements ensures that both a document and its signatures are valid, and once the notary applies their signature and seal, the document is considered immediately legally enforceable. 

What are the requirements for a notary to perform electronic notarizations?

For a notary to perform electronic notarization services, they are still required to meet with the signers in person. Unlike Remote Online Notarization (RON), an electronic notary cannot be carried out remotely.

Signers must schedule a time and place to appear before a commissioned notary public, who will verify their identities before signing. Once this is completed, the signers will apply an electronic signature (or eSignature) to the document.

Following this, the notary will apply their eSignature and digital seal to the document, rendering it legally binding.

Why notarize a document?

Notarizing a document ensures that the content and signatures within the document are legally binding. To have a document notarized by a commissioned notary public, you must meet all of the local state requirements for notarization.

Adhering to this standardized process guarantees that a document has been notarized following all applicable local notary requirements, and is legally enforceable.

What is an electronic notary endorsement?

An electronic notary endorsement is a notary stamp or seal that has been applied to a document electronically and must be provided in full accordance with all applicable state notary laws. 

Who can notarize documents?

Documents must be notarized by a state-commissioned notary public authorized to notarize in the state they practice in.