August 05, 2022

Is Remote Online Notarization Allowed in D.C.?

BY Mike McGregor - Director of Regulatory and Compliance

People living in, or owning property in, Washington D.C. will soon have remote online notarization options for their real estate transactions. 

In July, the city council of the District of Columbia sent legislation to the mayor that would allow D.C. citizens to remotely notarize documents from anywhere. The remote online notarization (RON) bill will take effect 30 days after Mayor Muriel Bowser signs it.

RON laws in D.C. state that notaries must first notify the mayor’s office and provide the names of the technology providers they plan to use before completing their first transaction.  

RON in D.C.: The Benefits

Utilizing remote online notarization in D.C. will mean more closing flexibility for title agents and everyone involved in closing and servicing transactions. Some of the benefits the new D.C. RON law will include:

Anti-Fraud Protections

With a traditional, paper-based notarization, the signer only needs to provide their driver’s license. RON in D.C. requires the signer to present a form of government-issued identification and complete a knowledge-based authentication (KBA) by answering questions that provide evidence of their identity. 

Regulated Security Features

The D.C. Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications may issue regulations establishing standards for technology providers and identity proofing providers. This helps ensure that industry standards for security and audit trails are met to safeguard the validity of the transaction, as well as ensure accessibility. 

Video Recordkeeping

The RON technology provider is required to video record the notarization and retain the video for at least 10 years. In contrast, a paper-based notarization does not require video recording of the transaction.  

Audio-Visual Accommodations

The use of remote online notarization opens the door for greater access and flexibility for everyone involved. The D.C. bill specifically spells out that technology providers make accommodations for remotely-located individuals who have vision, hearing, or speech impairments.

RON Closings From Anywhere

Perhaps the biggest benefit of remote online notarization in D.C. is the flexibility and accessibility it provides to all users, including the signers. RON transactions can take place anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection; signers do not need to even be in D.C. at the time of the transaction, and the same is true for lenders, real estate agents and title and settlement agents.

With the new RON law in D.C., consumers possess more choices in how they sign their mortgage documents. For example, a DC homebuyer that is traveling overseas can close on a mortgage by signing their documents using RON. This also means that men and women serving in the U.S. military outside the country now possess the option of utilizing RON to buy or sell a house. The ability to meet these needs, and accommodate so many others, is a clear advantage to RON transactions. 

Download the How to perform RON closings eBook graphic

Mike McGregor - Director of Regulatory and Compliance

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