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Title Industry Asks Congress to Support Nationwide Use of RON

The California delegation meets with Shelby Luce, a staffer for U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal.

A record attendance of nearly 400 title professionals during the 2021 ALTA Advocacy Summit held more than 250 virtual meetings May 18-20 asking members of Congress to support nationwide use of remote online notarization (RON). On May 13, Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) reintroduced the SECURE Notarization Act of 2021 (S. 1625).

“Remote online notarization is a transformative technology that offers consumers a convenient way to safely and securely complete important documents. 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,” Sen. Warner said. “That’s why 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.”

The Virginia delegation meets with Norman Ellis III of U.S. Sen. Tim Kain’s office.

The bipartisan bill would allow notaries in all states to perform RON transactions. Like the bill from the previous Congress, the SECURE Notarization Act of 2021 creates national standards requiring use of tamper-evident technology, multifactor authentication of a signer and retention of an audio-visual recording of the notarial act.

The bill would allow signers outside the U.S., such as military personnel and their families, to easily and securely notarize documents.

“The pandemic exposed several flaws and outdated methods used in the American economy, and the notary process is a prime example,” Sen. Cramer said. “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.”

There have already been 34 states that have enacted laws enabling the use of RON. The federal legislation would complement existing state laws, while allowing states the flexibility and freedom to implement their own RON standards.

The Minnesota delegation meets
with Rep. Dean Phillips.

Additionally, the federal legislation follows 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).

In addition to ALTA, the bill is endorsed by a wide array of organizations including the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI).

Thanks to ALTA’s advocacy, the bill’s minimum standards for RON are consistent with those provided in the ALTA-MBA model state RON bill and the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) RON Standards.

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.

“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.”



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