What’s the Difference between eSignatures, eNotarization, Webcam Notarization, and iClose

Notary stamp

Notary stamp

All these terms sound misleadingly similar, but they can serve different purposes. You should know what they mean if you are considering looking to find a notary – especially online public notary services. Here are some simple definitions for you to distinguish between the processes.

You use an electronic signature when you buy something with a credit card and sign a digital pad, when you enter your PIN at an ATM machine, when you purchase something on the Internet and click “submit order.” Electronic signatures are very common in today’s digitalized world. They are usually considered as valid and legally binding as a traditional signature on paper.

Electronic notarization (eNotarization) is basically the same as a paper notarization, except that the document being notarized is digital and the notary signs it with an electronic signature. The signer still has to physically appear before the notary. The requirements of eNotarization differ depending on the state. The state of Georgia currently does not use eNotarization.

Webcam notarization adds another degree of flexibility to eNotarizations. It allows a document to be electronically notarized, but in addition the signer does not have to physically appear before the notary. Instead, a webcam element can be used. This procedure is only legal in the state of Virginia at this time. Several states have actually prohibited webcam notarizations.

Finally, iClose is a closing system that is web-based. The borrower appears physically before a notary to sign a limited power of attorney. This document allows a representative of the lender to sign the borrower’s mortgage documents. Subsequently, the borrower can then log onto the iClose system to approve the loan documents using an electronic signature. The lender’s representative then signs the paper documents in the closing package, and a notary notarizes this signature.