You may still have to get your passport renewed in person, but starting today, there's one less government office you'll have to visit. 

Notarize, an app that allows users to set up a video chat with a licensed notary public to get your document notarize remotely, is now open for business. For $25 per notarization, Notarize allows you to upload the document you need to be notarized to their platform. Notarize then sets up a video chat with a licensed remote notary, so that you can see you can physically see the document get notarized. 

The app is the brainchild of Patrick Kinsel, a partner at venture capital firm Polaris Partners and one of the co-founders of Spindle, a search system that was acquired by Twitter in 2013. Two years ago, Kinsel sent in a document getting to be notarized before leaving for vacation. He got a call a few days later, saying that the notary clerk had forgotten to sign the document, rendering it invalid.

"It really struck me that notarized documents are often some of the most important things that people sign, and yet, we have this system that 100 years old," said Kinsel. "No one today would invent that system in the same fashion.

Kinsel sat on the idea for a few months, and then when he broke his leg in January 2015, he spent his recovery time researching state notary laws. He found that the state of Virginia had enacted a law in 2012, that allows notaries to establish their presence remotely, and realized that virtual notarization could become a reality. He secured funding for Notarize in May, and brought on Adam Pase as the company's COO.

Even though Notarize works with only notary agents in Virginia, the app can service anyone in the country. And while only 160,000 out of the country's approximately 4 million certified notary agents are located in Virginia, Kinsel is confident that Notarize can keep up with demand

Between 1 billion and 1.25 documents are notarized in the U.S. every year, and Kinsel estimates that Notarize is tapping into a $30 billion market.

"When I saw how painful this was for all three sides--the consumer, the business or organization that sends out the contract, and the notary agent-- that's when I really got excited about this."

Published on: Feb 4, 2016