Most adults have had to sign certain documents in the presence of a notary at some point in their lives, yet many people do not understand what the purpose of a notary is or why a document requires notarization.  The primary purpose of having a document notarized is to deter fraud. To accomplish this, the person(s) signing the document does so in the presence of the notary and proves to the notary, most often by government issued identification, that they are in fact the person(s) who are named in the documents.  The notary then officiates the document by marking the document with their seal.  A notary can also affirm that the person signing the document has sworn to the truth of the statements made within the document.  Some common examples of documents requiring notarization include deeds, mortgages, wills, trusts and affidavits.

A notary is regulated by the jurisdiction in which one resides and is required to adhere to certain formalities.  Traditionally, one of these requirements was that the person(s) signing the documents did so in the physical presence of the notary.  However, as a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, this traditional requirement of signing in the physical presence of the notary has presented significant challenges. In light of this, many jurisdictions have begun waiving this requirement and have implemented procedures to allow persons to sign in the virtual presence of a notary.

On April 20, 2020, and in response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. issued that certain Fifth Supplemental Executive Order and Proclamation to specifically suspend the formal requirement of personal appearance before a notary public. Currently, the provisions within the Executive Order are only effective while the Territory is under a State of Emergency. Pursuant to the Executive Order, a notary is now authorized to perform their notarial acts by utilizing live audio-video technology between the principal, notary and other necessary persons at the time of signing and notarizing. A common example of this would be the recent increased utilization of Zoom meetings. Certain conditions must still be followed, however, some of which include:

  • The person must affirmatively represent that they are physically present in the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands;
  • The notary must be physically located in the Territory;
  • The document must contain a notarial certificate, jurat, or acknowledgment which states that the principal appeared remotely and pursuant to the Executive Order;
  • Any person whose signature is to be notarized must display a valid photo ID to the notary during the video conference.

The recent authorization of remote notarization offers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Encourages social distancing;
  • Allows for certain commercial and legal functions to continue;
  • Provides for faster transactions;
  • Reduces operating and travel costs.

BoltNagi employs a handful of notaries and is equipped with the technology to provide remote notarization during this difficult time.  If you or your company requires notarization of documents, and would prefer to utilize remote notarization, please contact Attorney J. Nash Davis.

BoltNagi is a well-established and widely respected business and commercial law firm proudly serving clients in the U.S. Virgin Islands.