March 24, 2020
New Hampshire’s Governor Sununu Issues Executive Order Enabling Use of Remote Notarization

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state leaders and title professionals are looking for a solution to enable real estate transactions to continue to close. Such solutions include emergency rules and executive orders to permit the use of remote notarization in the state. Under Executive Order 2020-04, #11, New Hampshire’s Governor, Christopher Sununu, authorized the use of audio-video technology to conduct a notarization, under the following conditions:

  • The individual is located in New Hampshire;
  • The individual and the notary can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process during the notarization;
  • The notary has identified the individual through:
  • Personal knowledge of the individual;
  • At least two different processes or services that provide the notary with the means to verify the individual’s identity through a review of public or private data sources; or
  •  An oath or affirmation of a credible witness; and
  • The notary records and retains a copy of the performance of the notarization for the term of the notary’s commission, including any renewals.

A notary may remotely notarize a document for an individual located outside of New Hampshire using the same process, so long as:

  • The record is intended for filing or relates to a matter before a court, governmental entity, public official, or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of New Hampshire; or
  • The record involves property located in New Hampshire or a transaction substantially connected to New Hampshire; and
  • The notary has no knowledge that the execution of the record is prohibited by the laws of the jurisdiction where the individual is physically located.

Upon signing a document remotely, the individual must mail the signed copy to the notary for certification and execution with the notary’s signature and official stamp or seal. The Order provides that the date of the notarization shall be the date the individual signed the document.

This Order would not require the signer to execute the document using electronic signatures, though such may be used to execute the documents. However, the notary must execute the document using a traditional wet signature in combination with the notary’s official stamp or seal.

Under New Hampshire law, this Executive Order is effective for 21 days following its declaration unless renewed.

Aside from actions taken by state governments to enact remote notarization, there has also been a strong push for such legislation at the federal level. On March 19, 2020, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced S. 3533, the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2020.” This federal proposal would allow notaries in every state to remotely notarize documents in accordance with minimum standards set forth in the bill. Those minimum standards require the use of tamper-evident technology and multifactor authentication to verify the identity of the signer.

It is clear that we will need to adjust our business practices to allow real estate transactions to continue during this unprecedented time. However, it is imperative that we continue to employ safe and trusted methods of executing documents, particularly those affecting real estate title. CATIC is committed to helping its agents through this uncertain time and will be providing further guidance detailing how agents can comply with this Executive Order in the coming days. Should you have any questions about this Order, please contact Judy Parys, Vice President and Counsel. We look forward to continuing to serve you and your clients throughout this crisis and beyond.

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