The 2020 Rules on Remote Notarization of Paper Documents (A.M. No. 20-07-04-SC)
On 14 July 2020, the Philippine Supreme Court issued A.M. No. 20-07-04-SC known as the 2020 Rules on Remote Notarization of Paper Documents (“RON Rules”) which became effective 15 days after its publication.
The RON Rules allow the performance of notarial acts through videoconferencing in places where the notary public or at least one of the principals is in a locality under community quarantine due to COVID-19. In effect, personal appearance, which is required in notarization, includes a situation wherein the principal, witnesses, and the notary public can see, hear, and communicate with each other, and present and confirm competent evidence of identity to each other in real time through the use of videoconferencing facilities.
The Process of Notarization through Videoconferencing
The following process will be observed in notarizing a document under the RON Rules:
1. The principal shall deliver (in person or through courier service) to the notary public the document together with copies of 2 competent evidences of identity (ID) and a video in a CD or USB (optional since it can be e-mailed to the notary public) of the principal actually signing the document. These must be all enclosed in a sealed envelope bearing the initials of the principal.
2. Upon receipt of the documents, the notary public shall schedule a videoconference with the principal.
3. During the videoconference, the notary public shall require the principal to confirm his identity and location (geolocation through an app with GPS or by showing identifiable landmarks).
4. The notary public shall open the sealed envelope in full view of the principal and require the latter to confirm the document.
5. Thereafter, the notary public shall also require the principal to confirm that he has read the document in its entirety and has understood all its contents.
6. Likewise, the notary public shall require the principal to affix his handwritten signature on a blank piece of paper within full view for comparison with the signature appearing on document.
7. The principal will also be asked to confirm that the signature appearing at the end of the document belongs to him and that it was voluntarily affixed for the purposes stated therein. Further, the principal must avow to the whole truth of the contents of the document under penalty of law.
8. The notary public must review the video clip submitted by the principal to verify that he actually signed the document.
9. The notary public shall take a photograph or a screenshot of the videoconference clearly showing all parties who participated in the notarial act. In said photograph or screenshot, the notary public must be seen holding the document to make the first page of the notarized document visible and identifiable as such. The photograph or screenshot must bear a time and date stamp. This will be attached by the notary public in his notarial register.
10. Once all of these are done, the notary public shall complete the Notarial Certificate in the document, affix his signature thereon by hand, and set his Official Seal. The Notarial Certificate shall state that the notarial act was done through the use of videoconferencing facilities in accordance with the RON Rules.
11. Finally, the principal shall cause the retrieval of the notarized documents from the notary public either personally or by courier service.
Limitations of Remote Notarization
It is important to point out that the notary public, as well as the principals and the witnesses, if any, must be located within the territorial jurisdiction of the notary public’s commission during the videoconference. The notary public may refuse to perform the notarial act in the event that the principal or witnesses exhibit behavior that engenders reasonable doubt as to his understanding of the document, or otherwise indicates a defect in his consent thereto.
In addition to notarization fees, all expenses in connection with the remote notarization, including expenses for the reproduction of the instrument or document and delivery thereof either by personal or courier service shall be borne by the principal.
This is how notarization through videoconferencing during the quarantine is implemented in the Philippines.
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