In an effort to combat the economic toll of COVID-19, a wave of varying permanent and temporary legislation for remote online notarizations continues to sweep across the country.
While the SECURE Notarization Act currently sits in the introductory phase at the senate, states have taken it upon themselves to enact their own regulations and legislation of RON.
According to a recent report by Qualia, nearly half of the United States has not enacted RON legislation despite a survey by the company that remote notarizations surged 40% from April to May. Three states in particular, California, Oregon and South Carolina maintain a requirement for in-person notarizations and have yet to adopt RON regulations of any form.
While several states including Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio enacted RON legislation prior to the pandemic, states like Louisiana quickly pushed new RON orders in a reactionary method to COVID-19. In March, Louisiana’s governor amended his emergency executive order to allow the use of RON – by June he called for implementation of it no later than August 1, 2020.
For four years, the Land Title Association of Colorado pushed for RON legislation in Colorado, however, it would take less than four months from March, 2020 to June for the state to pass a bill allowing the use of temporary RON. In June, Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared the bill will effectively turn into law December 31, 2020.
Alaska also expedited RON legislation after an April bill backed the validity of electronic documents and signatures for notarizations, however, it will not be effective until January 2021.
Other states like Indiana, Iowa and Maryland were in the process of enacting RON when COVID-19 hit, advancing the process along in a bid to protect employees and homebuyers. One state in particular, Washington, passed RON legislation in April last year and was slated to go into effect Oct. 1, 2020. With stay-at-home orders being implemented across the country the governor issued a proclamation for immediate use of RON.
Whereas many states already adopted RON, others are making use of its close cousin remote ink-signed notarizations (RIN). In a RIN transaction, notarizations take place via a video platform and do not include e-Sign technology. Instead homebuyers receive closing packages via mail or email, and wet-ink sign the physical documents while a notary witnesses the events.
States like Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico and North Carolina opted for RIN transactions instead amid their emergency orders with several under certain restrictions.