Senators Introduce ALTA-supported Federal RON Bill

March 19, 2020

U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) on March 18 introduced the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020.

S. 3533 is bipartisan legislation that permits immediate nationwide use of remote online notarization (RON) with minimum standards and provide certainty for the interstate recognition of RON. This technology allows the consumer and notary to be in different locations using two-way audio-visual communication to securely execute electronic documents.

“With the need for social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus, we want to provide options to consumers to close their transaction remotely nationwide,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “We applaud the leadership of Senators Kevin Cramer and Mark Warner for introducing The SECURE Notarization Act, which offers a safe alternative to help get transactions completed during this health crisis. The strong standards in this bill are important to prevent fraud and offer consumers a more secure alternative rather than FaceTime or Skype when buying property or refinancing a mortgage.”

The SECURE Notarization Act would authorize all Notaries in the United States to perform RONs, requires tamper-evident technology in electronic notarizations and provides fraud prevention through use of multifactor authentication.

In 2019, MISMO released its RON standards, which allow the use of audio-visual communication devices to notarize documents in a virtual online environment. MISMO's RON standards support model legislation that was developed by ALTA and the Mortgage Bankers Association. Multiple U.S. states are now using this model legislation to enact RON laws in their jurisdictions. To date, 23 states have approved the use of RON technology.

“Americans shouldn’t have to risk their health or safety to execute important financial or legal documents, especially when they could do so from the safety of their own home,” Sen. Cramer said. “The SECURE Notarization Act brings the notary process into the 21st century, allowing people to securely complete documents while still following recommended health and social practices amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

While RON won’t be available for every transaction, it does provide another closing option in some circumstances. This could be extremely valuable for people looking to refinance. A recent CNBC article showed that the average American can save $277 per month by refinancing. Right now, refinancing orders are soaring, as people look to lower monthly mortgage payments or get much-needed equity out of their homes. There are currently 44.7 million homeowners with equity available to tap via cash-out refinance according to Black Knight.

“Virginia has safely and securely allowed the use of remote notarizations for years,” Sen. Warner said. “At a time when most people should be staying at home, there’s no reason anyone should have to leave just to get notary services.”

The legislation is also endorsed by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also supports the bill.

Additional information:

The SECURE Notarization Act would:

  1. Authorize every notary in the US to perform RON.
  2. Require tamper-evident technology in electronic notarizations.
  3. Provide fraud prevention through use of multifactor authentication for identity proofing and audio-visual recording of the notarial act.
  4. Allow signers outside the US, such as military personnel and their families, to easily and securely notarize documents.
  5. Complement existing state laws, while allowing states the flexibility and freedom to implement their own RON standards.
  6. Builds on the foundations of the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations (IRON Act of 2011), while adding additional consumer safeguards.
  7. Follow a similar structure of complementary state and federal legislation, such as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).
  8. Implement 2018 Treasury Report recommendations that Congress consider legislation to provide a minimum uniform national standard for electronic and remote online notarizations. Noting federal legislation is not mutually exclusive with continued efforts at the state level to enact a framework governing the use of electronic methods for financial documents requiring notarization.

The SECURE Notarization Act wouldn’t:

  1. Impede consumer choice.
  2. Preempt state laws that adhere to uniform consumer protections, such as those laws based on the non-partisan model state law - Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, 2018 - proposed by the Uniform Law Commission.
  3. Infringe upon state data privacy laws.
  4. Impact state law on testamentary wills and trusts.
  5. Change state law governing the practice of law.
  6. Favor specific technology or restrict the use of new and emerging advancements.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or