The Tar Heel State sets its sights on REN

North Carolina is getting closer to remote online notarization.  

On July 1, 2022, the North Carolina House voted 104-2 and approved House Bill 776. Gov. Ray Cooper signed HB 776 which permanently codified remote electronic notarization (REN). REN becomes effective on July 1, 2023, and Emergency Video Notarization (EVN) is effective immediately.

North Carolina denotes as Remote Electronic Notarization (REN) what the mortgage industry refers to as remote online notarization (RON).

How does a notary qualify to become a remote electronic notary in North Carolina?  

A traditional North Carolina commissioned notary public must take a specialized course of instruction on REN, pass an exam, and purchase requisite insurance.  

Also, a remote electronic notary can only use a technology platform approved and licensed by the Secretary of State’s office. This means the communication technology platform has passed the specifications laid out in the bill.  

What technology is required to perform REN in North Carolina?  

The North Carolina enactment represents the most extensive regulation of RON technology providers by requiring a $5,000 yearly fee.   

the Secretary of State conducts a background investigation on the notary platform’s executives to approve the platform.

The notarization technology platform must:  

  1. Allow real-time interaction between the remote signer which includes audio with clear sound and video quality allowing unobstructed visual observation of each signer’s face and identification 
  2. Be capable of recording the interaction and ability to-locate the remote signer 
  3. Provide automated backup of communication technology recording 
  4. Employ data protection safeguards consistent with accepted information security standards 

With respect to verification of signer identity, identification cards must include the physical description or the signature, in addition to a photo and other credential security requirements. The notary should refuse to proceed if the identification presented does not meet the requirements.

All electronic notarization solutions including eSignatures and eSeals must be obtained from the electronic notary solution providers authorized by the N.C. Department of Secretary of State. 

What other requirements are imposed by the bill?  

The North Carolina enactment also expressly prohibits the remote notary from performing notarial acts with respect to self-proved wills, will codicils, and revocable and irrevocable trusts as well as amendments thereto. It also prohibits acknowledgments of death beneficiary forms, codicils, any documents related to the relinquishment of parental rights, or mail-in absentee ballots.

Only a North Carolina licensed attorney may perform real estate closings for North Carolina property.

A remote notary cannot perform a property closing unless they are a licensed North Carolina attorney.   

Signers located outside of the United States are restricted. However, if these individuals live on military bases, at consulates, or on naval vessels, they can utilize REN.

How is REN simplifying digital documents for North Carolina?

“This significant legislation means homebuyers will soon be able to close loans and buy homes from the comfort of their couch,” according to a news release from the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office. 

The new law represents Secretary of State Elaine Marshall’s effort to expand the business use of online resources and advance North Carolina into the digital notarization era with REN.

[Practice tip.]
North Carolina’s REN law goes into effect on July 1, 2023. To learn more about remote online notarization, head over to eNotaryLog to see how a national signing platform works. Our notaries are available to answer your questions about your digital transactions. For the notarization of electronic records, North Carolina notaries will continue to need to use an electronic seal and an electronic journal. 

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