April 3, 2020
Rhode Island’s Department of State Issues Guidance 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. On April 3, 2020, Rhode Island became the latest state to adopt measures to permit the use of remote processes to conduct a notarization.

Under g uidance produced by the Rhode Island Department of State, Nellie Gorbea, Rhode Island’s Secretary of State, permitted the use of audio-video technology to conduct a notarization in the state.

Before a notary can conduct a remote notarization under the guidance, the notary must:

  • Be or become a commissioned notary public registered with the RI Department of State;
  • Read the updated Standards of Conduct during the state of emergency period;
  • Contact one of the approved solution providers listed on the RI Department of State’s website and obtain their services for remote online notarizations;
  • Approved solution providers currently include DocVerify, Inc. and Pavaso
  • Complete the training provided by the selected solution provider;
  • Register with the RI Department of State/Business Services/Notary Division to perform Remote Online Notarizations by completing and submitting the pertinent new notary application/renewal or information update form with all required information; and
  • Await confirmation from the RI Department of State via email before notarizing remotely.

Once approved, the notary may conduct a notarization remotely under the following conditions:

  • The notary and signer are physically located in Rhode Island;
  • The signer and the notary can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process during the notarization;
  • The notary has identified the signer through:
  • Personal knowledge of the signer, which requires having seen the signer’s identification at some point during your relationship;
  • 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 ten (10) years.

A notary may remotely notarize a document for a signer located outside of Rhode Island 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 the United States; or
  • The record involves property located in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or a transaction substantially connected to the United States; 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 signer must mail the signed copy to the notary within thirty (30) days of execution for certification and execution with the notary’s signature and official stamp or seal. The guidance provides that the date of the notarization shall be the date the signer executed the document.

This guidance is effective until termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Should you have any questions about this guidance, please contact John Comery , Rhode Island’s State Manager. We look forward to continuing to serve you and your clients throughout this crisis and beyond.
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