ALTA Encourages N.C. Secretary of State to Maintain RON Standards

October 28, 2020

ALTA and three other trade associations warned the North Carolina Secretary of State about adopting standards for remote notarizations (RON) that are inconsistent with those adopted across the country.

In a letter, ALTA, the North Carolina Land Title Association, Mortgage Bankers Association and Mortgage Bankers Association of North Carolina, detailed the need to ensure the state maintains RON requirements, which provide robust consumer protections and legal certainty to the transaction.

The letter indicates the state’s Secretary of State is considering policy discussions that would codify standards not consistent with RON and would introduce unnecessary legal uncertainty and risk to transactions.

“While the COVID-19 crisis has led to emergency measures allowing video notarizations to occur without protections like mandatory multi-factor authentication of a signer, this should not be considered a viable long-term policy approach,” the letter states. “The actual outcome of codifying these temporary measures into permanent law is a non-uniform standard that interjects a high-level of uncertainty into what might constitute a valid notarial act. Further unintended consequences resulting from passage of this type of legislation will without a doubt include rejection of North Carolina notarizations to certify business transactions in other states.”

The groups said there are several requirements of RON that help ensure consumers are not at risk of having their legal documents deemed invalid. The letter outlines the core principles of RON policy, including:

  • recognition of consumer choice
  • RON should receive the same legal status as traditional notarization
  • inclusion of robust provisions for ID proofing and credential analysis
  • acknowledgements performed online can be readily identified and distinguished from those done in person
  • technology requirements should not be so specific as to favor one vendor over another, nor should they be so restrictive that they impede evolution of new ways to improve security over time
  • legislation should conform to other legal standards and laws

The spread of COVID-19 highlighted the need for digital solutions in the mortgage industry. In March, North Carolina passed the Emergency Video Notarization law enabling the implementation of RON until March 1, 2021. Currently, 29 states (Pennsylvania’s legislation is awaiting the governor’s signature) have legislation in place permitting RON.

Earlier this year, ALTA, along with the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors, developed draft model emergency notarization order to help create uniformity and provide legal certainty for use of remote notarizations in states promoting social distancing measures. ALTA also has created principles for notarizations conducted remotely.

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is an active advocate for e-closings. She has a longstanding mission to bring the state's business practices into the 21st century. A critical aspect of that is creating an environment suitable for fast and secure homebuying experiences for consumers, notaries and lenders alike.

“Our Associations support your efforts to utilize new technology to improve the notarial process for consumers, and hope North Carolina will pursue a model legislative framework that ensures the legal enforceability of documents remotely notarized,” ALTA and the other associations said in the letter.


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

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