August 10, 2021

New Hampshire, Illinois, New Jersey Pass Remote Online Notarization

BY Stavvy Team

Remote Online Notarization (RON) is now a reality in New Hampshire, Illinois, and New Jersey. Recent bills have passed in all three states over the past few weeks, meaning that even more Americans have access to this important technology. There are currently 38 states that allow RON, with more to come soon: there are bills introduced in Georgia, Hawaii, New York, and South Carolina.

What is Remote Online Notarization?

Notarizing is an important component of large financial transactions, and is especially important for real estate and mortgage transactions. Notarization is essentially an anti-fraud measure, in which a notary verifies the identity of the parties involved in a transaction, witnesses the transaction and signatures in-person (traditionally), and ensures that each party is acting in their best interests without outside interference. Once signed, the document is notarized, stamped or sealed, and is then legally binding.

Remote Online Notarization removes the in-person requirement, replacing a personal appearance with encrypted real-time audio and video communication (for example, with a tool like Zoom). Transactions that once required onerous in-person meetings with a stack of papers to sign with “wet ink” can now be executed online from wherever each party prefers.

According to HousingWire, adoption of Remote Online Notarization soared 547% in 2020, and it’s no wonder why: RON takes away the barriers that many face when conducting an important transaction, and makes the entire process easier and more secure for consumers.

Remote Online Notarization in New Hampshire

Last year, New Hampshire passed an emergency order granting the “temporary authority to perform secure remote online notarization” due to COVID-19. The order stated that any “in-person” requirements outlined in laws relating to notarization in the state “shall be satisfied if the individual and the notarial officer are not in the physical presence of each other but can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process at the time of the notarization.” However, the signer still had to send the “wet-signed” physical copies to the notary after the virtual meeting to finish the execution.

Governor Chris Sununu signed SB134 into law on August 10, 2021 to enact permanent RON in New Hampshire. The law takes effect starting February 6, 2022. The final bill removes the requirement to send physically signed documents and allows for parties to execute an electronic document through a RON platform (like Stavvy!).

Remote Online Notarization in Illinois

Last year, Illinois had temporarily approved RON due to COVID-19 and related “stay at home” orders. This temporary measure had allowed for remote notarization as long as both the notary and the signing party were located in Illinois. The guidelines were similar to other emergency RON measures, requiring two-way audio-video communication and requiring that video recordings be stored for at least three years.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB2664 into law as Public Act 102-0160 on July 23, 2021. The law takes effect starting next year, on July 1, 2022. The Illinois bill also authorizes the use of Remote Ink Notarizations (RIN), which despite its similar name, is very different from RON. RIN still relies on pen and paper -- the signer and any other parties use two-way audio-video communication, but instead of signing documents digitally, they are signed on a physical paper copy. The signed copies are then mailed to the intended recipient. Though this removes the requirement for in-person signing and allows consumers to conduct transactions from a location of their choosing, it is far less secure than RON and can create more confusion and paperwork for the lender and other parties.

Remote Online Notarization in New Jersey

Like Illinois, New Jersey also passed an emergency RON authorization soon after the COVID-19 pandemic started. The state’s Legislature had actually passed a full (non-emergency) RON bill in March 2020, but the Governor vetoed the bill because it was not comprehensive enough, stating: “Although the bill was prioritized as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, its text dates back several legislative sessions and is not specifically aimed at alleviating the unique burden social distancing orders impose on notaries and the individuals and businesses in need of their services.”

Governor Phil Murphy signed A4250 into law on July 22, 2021. The law takes effect later this year, on October 20, 2021. According to one law firm with offices in the state, New Jersey’s RON act “comprehensively governs the commissioning process for Notaries, including establishing initial and continuing education and initial testing requirements to be approved by the State Treasurer, who is assigned the task of administering and enforcing the Act.

Stavvy Team

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