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Senators reintroduce bill to allow remote online notarizations

To date, 34 states have passed permanent RON legislation

Could it finally be happening? Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) have reintroduced federal legislation that would allow remote online legislation (RON) nationwide. 

Dubbed the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act, the bipartisan legislation would permit “immediate nationwide use” of RON by every notary in the United States. It would also require the use of tamper-evident technology in electronic notarizations, and help prevent fraud through the use of multifactor authentication.

The senators introduced nearly identical legislation during the last session of Congress.

Cramer said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed “several flaws and outdated methods used in the American economy,” including the notary process.

“Our bill would bring this process into the 21st century, allowing people to securely complete notarized documents remotely, just as they do with many other important forms,” Cramer said.

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Adoption of remote online notarization soared 547% in 2020, according to a survey from the American Land Title Association (ALTA) of major vendors working in the RON space. To date, 34 states have passed permanent RON legislation.

ALTA reported in December that RON is being utilized most extensively in Florida, Texas and Virginia, with a usage uptick also being seen in Midwestern states.

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which would permit nationwide use of remote online notarization, while requiring minimum safety and security standards, and provide certainty for interstate recognition of transactions completed with remote online notarization,” said Warner. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presented a number of obstacles to essential tasks such as executing wills, completing financial documents, buying or selling a home, or purchasing or selling a car online,  many states demonstrated how to effectively deploy this type of technology to meet the needs of Americans.”

The bill has been endorsed by a wide array of organizations, including ALTA, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI).

“The leadership of Senator Warner and Senator Cramer with this initiative recognizes that modern, practical approaches are needed to keep pace and serve individuals and families working to protect their family’s financial future,” said ACLI President and CEO Susan Neely. “It makes sense to embrace remote online notarization as a permanent innovation.”

Notarize announced in April that it will now allow independent notaries – of which there are 4.4 million in the U.S. – to utilize its software and platform for their own independent transactions. The company estimated that 1.25 billion notarizations are completed every year, including powers of attorney, beneficiary designations, real estate transactions and mortgages.

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