Recently, the House of Representatives passed the SECURE Notarization Act of 2022 (H.R. 3962). The legislation that creates federal minimum standards to allow notaries in all states to perform remote online notarization transactions. Highlights from the bill include the following:
- Allows notary public commissioned under state law to remotely notarize electronic records and perform notarizations for remotely located individuals.
- Provides technical requirements for such notarizations, including the creation and retention of video and audio recordings and the use of communication technologies (i.e., video chat).
- Requires U.S. courts and states to recognize notarizations—including remote notarizations of electronic records and notarizations of remotely-located individuals—that occur in or affect interstate commerce and are performed by a notary public commissioned under the laws of other states.
- Allows a notary public to remotely notarize electronic records involving an individual located outside of the United States, subject to certain requirements.
The legislation will now be considered by the Senate, where companion legislation (S.1625) has been introduced by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Putting It Into Practice: At the beginning of 2020, only 16 states allowed RON. As of August 1, 2022, 40 states already permanently allow RON or have passed legislation that will permanently authorize RON before temporary authorization expires. In addition, five states have granted temporary authorization. The five states that do not currently allow for remote online notarization either permanently or temporarily include California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Passage of the federal legislation would expand RON to all 50 states.
While concerns have been raised regarding the potential for increased fraud via remote notarization, many companies operating in states that have authorized RON have experienced expedited routine banking and finance transactions and real estate closings, since they give greater flexibility in times and places to acknowledge documents.