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Remote notarial authentication options to be significantly expanded

Sign of notary office

3.04.2020. The options of the recently launched remote notarial authentication will be expanded significantly. From now on, it will be possible to authenticate, for example, real estate transactions via the video bridge without leaving home or office. Although the new solution was initially planned to be tested gradually, the Ministry of Justice decided to speed up the implementation of remote authentication to limit the spread of the coronavirus and ensure vital public services at the same time.

“The project of remote authentication has been successful. As of the beginning of April, or two months after the establishment of such an option, nearly 100 notarial acts have already been performed by remote authentication,” Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg said. 

“Given the capabilities of notaries and the clients’ need for more notarial acts, we would like to provide the notaries with an opportunity to perform all notarial acts by remote authentication, and remove restrictions on transactions made outside foreign missions. The functioning of the state must also be ensured in the current emergency situation, where it is equally necessary to make transactions and authenticate them. The change has been made for this very purpose,” Aeg emphasised.

A notarial act by remote authentication can be requested form all notaries – it is not necessary to contact a notary operating in the same area.

According to Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Notaries Merle Saar-Johanson, it was originally planned to test the remote authentication option in a pilot project. “We wanted to expand the range of services provided by remote authentication gradually, but due to the emergency situation and in the interests of the health of both clients and notaries, it is critical to expand the range of services faster than planned,” Saar-Johanson said.

A notarial act performed by remote authentication is like a regular notarial act performed in a notary’s office. The only difference is that the notary and the participant are not in the same room, as the communication takes place via the video bridge and the documents are signed digitally.

“It is important to note that this is an option, not an obligation,” Aeg explained. “Neither a notary nor a participant in a notarial act cannot oblige anyone else to perform an act by remote authentication. Everyone has the right to request a meeting at a notary’s office.”

The system allows the transaction to be terminated immediately in the event of the slightest doubt or technical failure. “For example, if due to a poor internet connection, the video connection is interrupted or its quality is not sufficient to convincingly identify a person and their will, the transaction must be terminated, of course. A notary may also interrupt a transaction if it becomes evident during the performance of the act that the person does not have sufficient computer skills to complete all the necessary operations, from the establishment of the video bridge to digital signing,” Saar-Johanson explained. “A notary will refuse a transaction if it is suspected that the good faith of a contractual party is being abused or that this person has been forced to perform the transaction against their will. This principle applies to both office and remote authentication,” the Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Notaries emphasised.

It is not possible to marry or divorce and make entries on marriage or divorce by remote authentication.

Until now, remote authentication has been used in Estonian foreign missions in Brussels, Stockholm, and Riga, and the service is being launched in Helsinki. This has only included acts concerning the shares of a private limited company, powers of attorney, applications for marriage and divorce, and applications for succession. It has also been possible to delete and assign real rights and commercial pledges.

How to perform a notarial act by remote authentication?

1. The act to be performed by remote authentication and the corresponding time must be agreed with the notary in advance, either via the self-service of the website of notar.ee or directly.
2. To perform an act by remote authentication, the client is required to have and use a computer with a webcam and a microphone, an ID card with a card reader or Mobile ID for digital signing.
3. Remote authentication only functions in the Google Chrome web browser, and the internet connection speed must enable video calls.
4. To perform an act, it is required to log into the self-service of the website of notar.ee.

For more detailed information about how the notarial acts can be performed by remote authentication, please visit the website of the Estonian Chamber of Notaries.