In order to register a vehicle for the first time in the US, someone must bring the relevant documents to the registration authority and apply for registration.
What if you buy a vehicle but can't physically visit the registration authority?
A Power of Attorney document authorizes one party (the agent) to carry out actions on behalf of someone else (the principal)
Power of Attorney (POA) documents are used for a number of different purposes, including real estate transactions and estate planning.
POA's are commonly used in vehicle transactions in the United States.
For example, if a dealership offers registration services for its customers, it will usually capture a POA that authorizes the dealership (the agent) to sign documents to apply for registration and title on behalf of the customer (the principal).
The agent's powers are limited to the scope described in the POA
When a POA is signed, it does not give the agent authority to act in all of the principal's affairs - it only authorizes the agent to act on the scope of activities described in the document.
Vehicle-related POA's limit the agent's actions to a specific vehicle (defined by the Vehicle Identification Number).
Example Power of Attorney Document
So, a properly executed POA authorizes an agent to carry out a specific scope of acts (such as applying for a vehicle's registration and/or title), and contains verification that the principal is who they say they are, they understand what they're signing, and they're signing it of their own free will.
Because of these checks built into the POA process, registration authorities can be confident that the person applying for a vehicle's registration and/or title is duly authorized, even if they're not the vehicle's owner.
How do I notarize a POA that authorizes visitor.us to register my vehicle?
After you sign up for visitor.us, we'll form your Montana Limited Liability Company (LLC), and you'll be asked to provide the details of the vehicle you're purchasing.
Once visitor.us has your vehicle's details, we generate a POA that authorizes visitor.us to register your vehicle to your LLC.
visitor.us will submit your POA to our Remote Online Notarization partner, NotaryCam, to complete notarization. (Remote Online Notarizations are a recent invention, and not all US States recognize them yet. See *Nerd Note below.)
NotaryCam will send you an email invite to a webcam session, in which a licensed notary will witness you sign, and notarize, your POA. NotaryCam sends the notarized POA to visitor.us after your session.
*Nerd Note: The notary function is a very, very old one. Leonardo Da Vinci's dad was a notary; the British notarial society, Worshipful Company of Scriveners, was founded in 1373. One of the core principles of notarization is that the principal must appear before a notary. A profession this old took that principle quite literally - no telecoms allowed!
In 2011, Virginia became the first state to allow Remote Online Notarization, a notarization that takes place over "two-way audio/video technology." This is significant because every US State must recognize the notarial acts of every other US State (per the Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section IV, which reads "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State." This was further codified into law by the Uniform Acknowledgements Act of 1892, which explicitly confirmed that notarial acts in any one State have the same legal standing in all States.)
Virginia's recognition of Remote Online Notarization set off a competition amongst the States: if only Virginia created a process to accept notarial acts that took place over "two-way audio/video technology," yet every other US State would be required to accept Virginia's notarizations, Virginia would control a monopoly of Remote Online Notarizations (and the jobs and taxes that would follow) across the United States. So, several other States (including Montana) enacted Remote Online Notarization laws during the 2010's in Virginia's footsteps.
The Covid epidemic brought widespread adoption of Remote Online Notarizations. Many US States passed emergency legislation to allow Remote Online Notarization, and it's very likely that these measures will become permanent.
Before attempting to complete a Remote Online Notarization of a document, please check that the US State in which it will be used (i.e., the US State to which it will be submitted) accepts Remote Online Notarizations.