March 26, 2020
COVID-19: Remote Notarization Update
Iowa Title Guaranty continues to monitor the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our participants, industry partners and staff. ITG is committed to providing timely updates as this rapidly evolving pandemic unfolds. 
 
Earlier this week, Governor Reynolds declared that the in-person requirement for notarizing documents is temporarily waived for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, subject to guidance provided by the Iowa Secretary of State. Governor Reynold’s declaration accelerates the implementation of the new law permitting remote notarization in Iowa which was originally scheduled to become effective on July 1, 2020.
 
CAUTION: Please be advised that many lenders prohibit the use of remote online notarization. Closers and field issuers must obtain consent from the guaranteed lender prior to using remote notarization software to acknowledge title clearing documentation, conveyance instruments, or other documents related to closing.
The Secretary of State released a press release on March 25, 2020 providing the following temporary guidelines that apply during the emergency waiver of the in-person requirement:

  • The new remote notary law is currently scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2020. Notaries are advised that as that date approaches, we will be re-evaluating what the changeover will look like and will issue further guidance at that time. Questions may be emailed to the Secretary of State’s Office, notary@sos.iowa.gov.
  • Under the emergency declaration, remote notarial acts must conform to all the provisions in Iowa Administrative Code 721-43, Iowa Code chapter 9B, and every provision of Section 6 of Senate File 475.
  • Section 6 requires the use a software service designed for the purpose of facilitating remote online notarization, as opposed to services that primarily offer video-conferencing ability. Online notarization services include the necessary identity-proofing, e-signing, and recording/storage capabilities.
  • Even though the revised administrative rules are not yet in effect, the ARC 4997C draft is available online and will help notaries ensure they will be in compliance when they do take effect: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/aco/bulletin/03-25-2020.pdf.
  • Section 6 requires notaries to register with our office before performing any remote notarial acts. A web application is available to complete and submit on our website, sos.iowa.gov/remotenotary.
  • It is strongly advised that notaries follow the training on how to use the remote online notarization service provided by the service they choose.
  • Verification of the customer’s identity is of critical. Notaries are advised to be certain that the video resolution through the service they choose is sufficient to see identity-proofing documents clearly, and that the audio clarity is sufficient to understand everything the customer says.
  • Notaries are reminded that they are professionally responsible for properly performing notarizations under the law, even in this emergency context.
The wellbeing of our participants, industry partners and staff remains our priority. Please continue to implement the best practices recommended by local, state and federal authorities.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Io wa Title Guaranty team.