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House Passes Measure to Modernize Remote Online Notarizations

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed bipartisan legislation, HR 3962—the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act, by a vote of 336-90. Led by Reps. Madeleine Dean and Kelly Armstrong, the bill will update and modernize the notarization process in and outside of the United States.

The Act aims to allow every notary in the U.S. to perform Remote Online Notarizations (RONs), as well as allow signers located outside of the U.S. to securely notarize documents. Passage of the measure would allow for the immediate nationwide use of RON, and allow those stationed, like military personnel, outside of the U.S., to securely notarize documents.

"The pandemic has shown us how crucial online access is for so many areas of our life, including notarization," said Rep. Dean. "The SECURE Notarization Act will update our notarization process so that people across our country, and those living outside of the U.S. for military service or other reasons, can have their documents notarized remotely. I look forward to our commonsense, bipartisan bill being brought to the Senate."

Reps. Dean and Armstrong were joined by 31 of their colleagues in introducing this legislation, which has 125 co-sponsors.

“Remote online notarization offers consumers a convenient way to safely and securely complete documents,” added Rep. Armstrong. “Our bipartisan bill will permit nationwide use of remote online notarization, increasing access to this important process.”

HR 3962 next moves on to the Senate, where Sens. Kevin Cramer and Mark Warner have companion legislation, S. 1625—Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2021.

"Today, the U.S. House took a major leap toward establishing a more modernized notarization system that doesn't leave anyone behind," said Diane Tomb, CEO of the American Land Title Association (ALTA). "Unfortunately, too many consumers and business across several states still do not have access to technology that allows them to execute critical documents remotely. This legislation is a gamechanger for homebuyers with disabilities and active-duty servicemembers stationed overseas, as well as those who need to social distance after testing positive for COVID-19 and those who cannot take time off work. We are optimistic that all consumers across the country will soon be granted permanent access to RON."

According to the National Notary Association (NNA), 46 states passed laws or temporary rules that allowed notarial acts to be completed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In many states, the governor issued executive orders or emergency proclamations allowing for RON because of the pandemic.

“MBA is grateful the House has passed this legislation that creates federal minimum standards to allow notaries in all states to perform safe and effective RON transactions, making the mortgage closing process more convenient for all consumers–including our nation’s military families,” said Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) President and CEO Bob Broeksmit, CMB. “Importantly, the bill’s minimum standards for RON are consistent with both the MBA-ALTA model state RON bill and the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) RON standards and would complement existing state laws by providing states with the flexibility and freedom to implement their own RON standards.”

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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