October 14, 2022

RON in Rhode Island: What You Need to Know

BY Mike McGregor - Director of Regulatory and Compliance

Remote Online Notarization is permanent in Rhode Island.  

On June 30, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed a bill into law that permanently allows remote online notarization for a remotely located signer. 

The law was effective immediately and it codifies procedures that were temporarily in effect by executive order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rhode Island RON Law: The Gist

In a nutshell, permanent RON in Rhode Island means that potential homebuyers are now able to purchase a home in the state, even if they are not physically present in the state.

Homebuyers can sign documents remotely from anywhere in the world with the assistance of a Rhode Island commissioned notary. For example, prior to temporary RON procedures that went into place in 2020, a person living in California that wanted to purchase a house in Rhode Island would have to physically present themselves to a notary in the state in order to sign the mortgage documents – and that changes with the passage of this permanent Rhode Island RON law.  

Rhode Island RON Law: A Deeper Dive

There are nuances to the law that affect homebuyers and providers that want to leverage RON technology to complete eclosings in Rhode Island. Those include:

Visual and Auditory Requirements

It’s important to note that, per this bill, RON transactions can only be performed by a “communication technology” that provides real-time communication via sight and sound between a notary and the individual signing the mortgage document. The technology must also be able to facilitate communication with a remote person who has a hearing, vision or speech impairment by providing reasonable accommodation for the transaction. 

Remote Electronic Notary Registration

Before performing their first RON transaction, the notary public must register with the Rhode Island Secretary of State and identify the technologies the notary public intends to use. The notary must also provide the Secretary of State with a copy of the electronic notary stamp issued by the technology provider. 

Identification

The notary public must identify the signer through personal knowledge or a credible witness, or two different types of identity proofing. This identity proofing happens when a third-party provides identity verification of a remotely-located individual through a analysis of personal details provided by private or public data sources. The appropriate identification procedures are at the discretion of the technology provider, but the Secretary of State notes that most technology providers utilize knowledge-based authentication (KBA) and credential analysis. 

Video Retention

The technology provider, on behalf of the notary, must retain the audio-visual recording of the transaction for at least 10 years after the recording is made in a secure, compliant electronic location. 

Regulations

The Secretary of State may issue regulations concerning the approval of communication tool or identity proofing. The technology and identity proofing solutions must conform to these standards.

Other Requirements

A few other components include that:

  • The notary must reasonably confirm that the mortgage document matches the  one that the remote individual has signed. 
  • The notarial certificate must contain a statement substantially similar to: "The notarial act utilized communication technology.” 
  • A notary public may charge a maximum fee of $25 per document or notarization. All fees must be disclosed by the notary public prior to the transaction.

At Stavvy, we’ll continue to keep an eye on the details of this law’s implementation – as well as RON laws in other states – to bring you more information. 

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2022 and has been updated.

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Mike McGregor - Director of Regulatory and Compliance

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