Congress Introduces New Online Notarization Bill

Two senators, Mark Warner (D) and Kevin Cramer (R), have introduced a new bill into congress that could change notarization as we know it. The bill, titled “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020,” would allow all notaries in the United States to perform notarizations remotely. 

This bill is in response to the recent best practices given by the CDC, to allow notarizations to continue without breaking the practice of social distancing. Currently, the United States only has 23 states that allow some form of online notarization. 

The bipartisan senators that introduced the bill argue that with over half the country denied access to online notarization, those who are following the CDC guidelines will not be afforded the same services as states who allow remote notarization. However, even if the bill passes, it will not supersede the state laws that are already in place. 

What states have laws allowing Remote Online Notarization (RON)? 

 

In the United States, the 23 states that currently allow some form of Remote Online Notarization.

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Washington
  3. Virginia
  4. Vermont
  5. Utah
  6. Texas
  7. Tennessee
  8. South Dakota
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Ohio
  11. North Dakota
  12. Nevada
  13. Nebraska
  14. Montana
  15. Minnesota
  16. Michigan
  17. Maryland
  18. Kentucky
  19. Iowa
  20. Indiana
  21. Idaho
  22. Florida
  23. Arizona

 

These states have many different specifications concerning the laws that govern Remote Online Notarization, and no state is exactly the same. Check with current state and federal laws before you attempt to perform online notarization services, or seek the use of online notarization services. 

SECURE Notarization Act of 2020 

The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 not only calls for all notaries to be authorized to perform Remote Online Notarizations, but also specifies the bill: 

  • Will follow a similar structure of state and federal legislation, like the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the Electronic Signatures In Global and National Commerce Act ( ESIGN)  
  • Would require tamper-evident technologies in remote notarizations
  • Will act as a complimentary law in accordance with current state laws, allowing the states to specify their own RON standards
  • Will add additional consumer safeguards while building on the foundations of the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations (IRON) Act of 2010
  • Requires the use of multi factor authentication for identity proofing to prevent fraud
  • Allow remote signers that are based out of the United States, such as military personnel, to securely and easily notarize their documents. 
  • Implement 2018 Treasury Report recommendations that call for congress to accept a minimum uniform national standard for online notarizations.

Common misconceptions concerning the SECURE Notarization ACT


There are many misconceptions about the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020. The proposed bill WILL NOT: 

  • Favor specific technology, or ignore the use of newer and emerging technologies
  • Violate state data privacy laws
  • Change state law concerning the practice of law
  • Impact state laws concerning wills and trusts
  • Supersede state laws that follow uniform consumer protections, such as the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, introduced by the Uniform Law Commission in 2018

What does the SECURE Notarization ACT mean for the notarization industry? 

 

The impact of this bill could be huge for online notarization services, depending on if your state enacts complimentary state laws that make online notarization legal. If the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act passes and your state follows similar guidelines, notaries in your state will then be able to perform notary services from anywhere in the state. 

This means current notaries will most likely have to adapt, and offer some form of online notarization to compete with the ease of access to remote notarization. However, service providers will be required to adhere to the specifications put forth in their state laws, such as laws concerning audio/visual recording and multi factor authentication. This will require notaries to purchase new equipment and software, and will most likely be a small learning curve for those notaries who are not very tech savvy. 

The impact this bill will have is yet to be determined, but from the first glance, it looks like the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act will be making huge waves in the notarization industry. 

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