House Approves Remote Online Notarization Bill
Bipartisan voice vote brings federal legislation of RON closer to reality.
Mortgage industry organizations were celebrating Monday after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to allow remote online notarization (RON) transactions.
The bipartisan legislation, called the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2023, was approved by a voice vote on the House floor Monday evening.
According to the text of the legislation, the bill would authorize notaries to perform, and to establish minimum standards for, electronic notarizations and remote notarizations “that occur in or affect interstate commerce. It also would require federal courts to recognize notarizations performed by a notary in any state, and would establish nation minimum consumer protection and fraud prevention standards, while allowing states the flexibility to supplement the federal standards with their own.
Given the deep, partisan division in the House, the quick approval of the legislation was welcomed by its supporters, which include the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
“MBA is pleased the House has once again overwhelmingly passed legislation to create federal minimum standards to allow notaries in all states to perform safe and effective remote online notarization (RON) transactions,” said Bob Broeksmit, CMB, MBA president & CEO.
“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 will help protect against fraud and make the mortgage closing process more convenient for consumers,” Broeksmit said. “The bill also complements existing state laws by providing state officials with the flexibility and freedom to implement their own RON standards.”
Broeksmit thanked Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., and Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., for re-introducing the legislation, as well as House leaders for bringing the bill to the floor for an expedited vote.
The Mortgage Action Alliance also praised the House for passing the legislation, telling its members that, thanks to their efforts, “84% of all House offices were contacted ahead of last evening’s unanimous/bipartisan vote.”
The MAA said the measure complements the remote online notarization (RON) laws that already exist in 42 states.
Notarize, an online notarization company, also praised the House vote.
“Now, the federal government has a critical opportunity provided by [Monday's] developments to not only prioritize nationwide digital transformation with greater clarity and consistency, but also to improve the lives of millions of Americans and cultivate a stronger culture of sustainability,” the company said in a post to its online blog.
The blog post continued, “And, it gets even better: the SECURE Notarization Act simplifies the governing rules pertaining to the use of notarized documents across state lines — otherwise known as interstate recognition — under federal law. Meaning the validity of notarizations across jurisdictions is controlled by a single statute, rather than a patchwork.”
Adam DeSanctis, a spokesman for the MBA, said a companion bill in the Senate will now have to be reintroduced and the pass through a committee before it can be brought to the floor for a full Senate vote.
"The bill in the last Congress never received a Senate vote," he said. "We will work with the Senate to hopefully make that happen."