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May 2, 2020

Can you ask a borrower if they have been out of the country?

Is it legal, ethical, or advisable to ask borrowers if they have been to a highly infected area recently such as Italy, Iran, China, South Korea, etc? Someone asked me this today. The answer is that you might get lenders mad at you.

The rate of infection in these countries is measured in infections per million and they are generally between 50 and 200 cases per million. So, being in these countries presents a very minuscule risk to the notary.

On the other hand, if a borrower exhibits Covid 19 type symptoms such as a dry cough, trouble breathing, etc., then you might be advised to stay away. I cannot advise on this as much of the transmission of Covid 19 happens with people who exhibit no symptoms.

Disinfecting the signing table, pens, cell phones, etc., makes a lot of sense. Having the signers wash hands thoroughly immediately before the signing is also a good idea. If they were a mask, that would be the icing on the cake.

I don’t know what you can ask or should ask without upsetting lenders and title companies. So, it might make sense to ask them.



  1. I ask the 3 basic questions then take it from there if I feel safe to sign with the borrowers but most of all I Trust my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to guide me. Have a safe and blessed 4th of July. Thanks again for all the good articles.

    Comment by Jackie Brown — July 3, 2020 @ 5:07 pm

  2. I would ask that question along with the other COVID questions. It’s my health and theirs to take care of.

    Comment by Debra Ann Moyer — July 3, 2020 @ 5:27 pm

  3. I always ask when I confirm the appointment.

    I give them then a copy of the COV 19 explained from lender/signing company

    Comment by hope — July 3, 2020 @ 11:34 pm

  4. Just treat every encounter as if you could catch COVID-19, practice extreme hygiene, keep your distance, and stay on guard.

    People are not always 100% truthful or forthcoming with sharing that they were or could have been exposed. Being at a protest, large gathering, or just around someone who was around someone, etc., is a far more important question since travel outside of the country has been very limited for months now. That is just my opinion.

    In CA, I have heard of signing agents conducting notarizations, checking ID’s, and administering oaths (if they do follow the law at all) via FaceTime, or other digital platforms while the notary sits outside the signers house, in their car, handing over their notary journals to the signers to sign and capture thumb prints (all on one entry line- for all of the signers notarizations)! I can’t begin to list the no-no’s on conducting notarizations in that fashion. If you are that scared, and uneducated about the law, don’t take the work. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes if you are summoned to court, or sued.

    In the end, protect yourself but still follow ALL of your state laws about notarizations. Most of all, read the Secretary of States handbook yearly, and keep it on you to reference.

    Then again, I make a lot of money off of other notaries sloppy mistakes.

    Comment by Jody Lee Bode — August 3, 2020 @ 9:16 pm

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