ALTA-supported SECURE Notarization Act Reintroduced in Senate

May 13, 2021

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) reintroduced a bipartisan bill supported by ALTA that would allow for the immediate nationwide use of remote online notarization (RON) technology.

In addition to expanding access to RON, The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2021 (Senate Bill 1625) creates national minimum standards to ensure strong consumer protections and provides certainty for the interstate recognition of RON.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, businesses have been forced to rapidly adapt to a new normal, and the real estate industry is no exception. One of the title industry’s most important tools in this process has been remote online notarization,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “We applaud the leadership of Sens. Warner and Cramer for recognizing the clear benefits of extending RON access to all Americans and introducing this bipartisan legislation, which offers a safe and secure alternative to execute real estate and mortgage transactions. By passing the SECURE Notarization Act, we can take a much-needed step into the future by modernizing the notarization process with a secure system that has proven to meet consumer needs and expectations.”

The SECURE Notarization Act would:

  • Authorize every notary in the U.S. to perform RON.
  • Create national standards requiring use of tamper-evident technology, multifactor authentication of a signer and retention of an audio-visual recording of the notarial act.
  • Allow signers outside the U.S., such as military personnel and their families, to easily and securely notarize documents.
  • Complement existing state laws, while allowing states the flexibility and freedom to implement their own RON standards.
  • Follow a similar structure of complementary state/federal legislation, such as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).

The SECURE Notarization Act would not:

  • Impede consumer choice.
  • Preempt state laws that adhere to minimum uniform consumer protections, such as those laws based on the Uniform Law Commission’s non-partisan Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, 2018.
  • Infringe upon state data privacy laws.
  • Impact state law on testamentary wills and trusts or the practice of law.
  • Favor specific technology or restrict the use of new and emerging advancements.

The use of RON increased 547 percent in 2020, according to a survey ALTA conducted of vendors that offer this technology. This increase can be attributed to heightened demand for RON during the pandemic, in addition to the fact that 34 states have passed permanent laws authorizing its use.

“Clearly there is a need and demand for this approach to notarization throughout the country,” Tomb said. “The SECURE Notarization Act allows businesses and consumers the ability to execute critical documents using two-way audiovisual communication. Current requirements for a signer to physically be in the presence of a notary are often impractical and sometimes impossible due to social distancing limitations resulting from the spread of COVID-19, as well as other roadblocks for in-person signing, like military service overseas and time constraints.”

Attendees of the 2021 ALTA Advocacy Summit will be encouraging members of Congress to support the Senate bill or to become a co-sponsor for a bill to be introduced in the House.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or [email protected].