Digital Notarized Signature Authentication and Notarial Certification of Documents – Now Possible!
In 2021, Israel joined the 21st-century trend and made possible digital notarized signature authentication and notarial certification of documents. For many years, to have a notary public authenticate documents, it was necessary to physically see a notary and sign the documents. Abolishing the requirement to physically sign documents, and providing the possibility to obtain notarized electronic documents, constitute a real revolution. How is digital notarized authentication performed, and what does it actually mean for you? Attorney Michael Decker, a notary public and partner in our firm, explains.
Our law firm in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv provides clients with notarial services in Israel and abroad. Our firm has extensive experience in providing notary services that include, inter alia, notarized authentication (physical and digital) of documents, translation of official documents, authentication of foreign documents, and apostilation.
Digital Signature Authentication and Notarial Certification of Documents – A New Era in Notary Services in Israel
The red seal on official documents may be familiar to you if you have ever needed signature authentication for documents such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, a mortgage, a will, or official documents to be submitted abroad. Up until now, notarial certification of these documents required stamping them with a physical seal. Starting from February 2021, Israel officially decided to recognize electronic notarial certification of documents as legitimate. This is expected to make the process of receiving documents from a notary public and submitting them to public institutions (such as the Inheritance Registrar, courts, consulates, and banks) in Israel and abroad much easier. This is a revolutionary step. Below is an explanation about the process and how it works.
What Does a Notary Public’s Job Include, and Why Hasn’t Electronic Signature Authentication Been Acceptable Until Now?
A notary public is a lawyer with special certification from the Ministry of Justice. This special certification is given to senior lawyers and requires a particularly high level of trust on the part of public authorities. It allows the notary public to authenticate and certify legal documents. The law stipulates a long list of actions that a notary public is authorized to perform, sometimes exclusively. This includes certifying the authenticity of a copy of a document, the correctness of a translation, and authenticating prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, as well as authenticating signatures on documents, which is required in various cases by public authorities in Israel and abroad as a precondition to accepting the documents.
For many years, digital notarized signature authentication and notarial certification of documents was not possible. Despite the enactment of the Electronic Signature Law in 2001, which led to many changes in a variety of legal areas, it was decided not to apply the law to notarized signatures. This was mostly due to conservatism regarding notarial practice. In particular, the fact that the job of authenticating official documents requires utmost reliability made it difficult to switch to electronic authentication.
How did Signature Authentication by a Notary Work In the Past?
Signature authentication was done until now by physically seeing a notary public and undergoing an identity check, after which both parties – the client and the notary – provided their physical signatures. The notary then authenticated the document by stamping it with the notarial seal. Clients were required to take the signed documents from the notary and submit them to the relevant authorities, and notaries were required to keep a copy of the documents in a physical archive kept in their office.
Digital Signature Authentication and Notarial Certification of Documents – How Is It Done Today?
Although it is still possible to authenticate documents physically at a notary’s office, it is now also possible, due to new additions to the Notary Regulations, to do so electronically. This greatly simplifies the process and makes it quicker and more efficient. From now on, it is possible to obtain notarial certification of translations and official documents digitally, and submit them to clients and public authorities, sometimes without ever having to physically see a notary.
Signature authentication, however, still requires a physical identity check. After the identity check, there are several ways to authenticate the signature. The client may provide a physical signature and have it scanned; or, conversely, the client may provide a digital signature in any of the ways approved by the Electronic Signature Law. At the end of the process, the documents may be stamped with an electronic seal, which replaces the physical seal and provides digital authentication.
Digital authentication is a first step in the digital revolution of notarized authentication. It is likely that further steps will be taken in the future making the process even simpler. In the meantime, you can already enjoy a simpler and quicker process of document authentication. Advancements in this area enable the transfer of electronic documents and provide a quicker service to clientele.
Digital Signature Authentication by a Notary – Contact Us
For further questions and any assistance regarding notarized authentication services, you can contact a certified notary from our law firm in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. You can contact us via the phone numbers or email address listed below. The firm provides a variety of notarial services, including digital notarized signature authentication, notarial certification of translations, and apostilation.