Impacts of COVID-19 on California Notaries

With the implementation of social distancing because of COVID-19, many states have made changes to their notary laws to allow for remote notarization.  California has not.

At the Federal level, a bill has been proposed that would override state law and allow for remote notarization nationwide under specific conditions.  California has opposed this bill, and on May 19th, the California Attorney General sent a letter to the United State Senate Judiciary Committee urging congress to “abandon any attempts to impose remote online notarization” on states that do not allow it. The letter went on to argue that online notarization should continue as an “individual state concern”. The letter raised concerns that a national proposal to allow for remote online notarization would create significant issues regarding authenticity of the signer and the potential of increased fraud. As of now, the bill has not passed at the national level and at the state level there is no action being taken to authorize remote notarization by California notaries.

On July 13th, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced that the DMV is providing further extension to the driver’s licenses of California’s aged 70 and older. The extension applies to noncommercial licenses with an expiration date between March 1 and December 31, 2020 and gives an automatic one-year extension from the original expiration date. Drivers will not automatically receive a new card or paper extension; they can request a free temporary paper extension online. However, a new card or paper extension is not required to drive. The DMV has not changed the extensions for those licensed drivers under the age of 70. Notaries should determine the age of the document sigher who qualifies for an extension by looking at the dates on the signer’s license and make a note in their journals documenting the acceptance of the extended license.