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Law

NC Senate Bill 704

Notary Law Update: NC Senate Bill 704

State: North Carolina

Summary:

Senate Bill 704 enacts temporary authorization for North Carolina Notaries to perform emergency videoconference notarizations.

Signed:  May 04, 2020

Effective:  May 04, 2020

Chapter: 2020-3

Affects:

Amends Sections 10B-3 and 10B-10 of, and adds Section 10B-25 to, the North Carolina General Statutes.

Changes:

Notary Commission

  1. Provides that if the Secretary grants a commission after March 9, 2020, and before August 1, 2020, the appointee shall have 90 days instead of the normal 45 days to appear before the register of deeds to take the general oath of office.
  2. Authorizes a register of deeds to administer the required oath to a Notary-appointee using video conference technology, provided the appointee is personally known to the register of deeds or the appointee provides satisfactory evidence of the appointee's identity to the register of deeds.

Emergency Video Notarization

  1. Defines “emergency video notarization” as an acknowledgment, affirmation, or oath notarization completed by a Notary in compliance with GS 10B-25 but does not include a verification or proof.
  2. Authorizes a Notary to perform an emergency video notarization using video conference technology, provided all requirements of GS 10B-25 are satisfied.
  3. Provides that a Notary who is not satisfied that the principal's identity has been proven by satisfactory evidence shall not be required to complete an emergency video notarization.
  4. Clarifies that an emergency video notarization shall not change any originality verification requirements for recording with a register of deeds, clerk of superior court, or other government or private office in North Carolina.
  5. Clarifies that a video notarization does not apply to any notarization under Article 20 of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes (relating to absentee ballots).
  6. Provides that video conference technology is electronic communication that: (a) occurs in real-time. (b) Allows direct interaction between the principal seeking the Notary's services and the Notary so that each can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process. (c) Includes audio with sound clear enough that each participant in the notarial act can hear and understand all other participants. (d) Has sufficient quality to allow a clear and unobstructed visual observation of the face of each participant, and any identification provided by the principal for a sufficient time to allow the Notary to determine if it is satisfactory evidence, and further provides that the Notary shall determine if the time is sufficient. (e) Is not prerecorded video or audio or both.
  7. Provides that video conference technology may be capable of recording by means of one of the following: (a) The video conference technology's recording and storage services. (b) An independent video recording device. (c) Electronically saved screenshots clearly showing each participant's face, identification presented by the principal, and the notarized document.
  8. Provides the physical presence requirement for a notarial act is satisfied if the Notary is physically present in North Carolina, the principal verifies to the Notary that he or she is physically present in North Carolina at the time of the notarization and identifies the county where he or she is located at the time of the notarial act, and the principal and Notary use video conference technology that complies with the requirements of GS 10B-25.
  9. Provides that a Notary who has personal knowledge of a principal may rely on video conference technology to verify the principal’s identity unless the Notary, in the Notary’s sole discretion, requires satisfactory evidence.
  10. Provides that the requirement of satisfactory evidence, as that term is used in GS Chapter 10B, is satisfied for the purpose of an emergency video notarization if identification of the principal is based on at least one document that meets all of the following: (a) Is current, or if expired, did not expire prior to March 10, 2020. (b) Is issued by a federal, state, or federal or state-recognized tribal government agency. (c) Bears a photographic image of the principal's face. (d) Has both the principal's signature and a physical description of the principal.
  11. Requires the Notary to use video conference technology to observe each principal sign each document that is to be notarized.
  12. Requires the principal to verbally state what documents are being signed for the notarial record.
  13. Provides that if an original wet-signed notarization on an original wet-signed document is not required, the principal or principal’s designee may transmit a legible copy of the signed document to the Notary by fax or other electronic means on the same day it was signed and the Notary must notarize the document on the same day the Notary receives the document and transmit the notarized document back to the principal or the principal's designee by physical delivery, fax, or other electronic means on the same day the Notary signed the document.
  14. Provides that if an original wet-signed notarization on an original wet-signed document is required, (a) the principal or principal’s designee may transmit a legible copy of the signed document by fax or other electronic means to the Notary on the same day on which the document was signed and also deliver the original signed document to the Notary by mail or another physical method. (b) The Notary must compare the original document with the document transmitted by fax or other electronic means. (c) If the faxed or electronic document is the same as the document received by mail or physical delivery, the Notary must notarize the wet-signature on the original document and date the notarial act as of the date of the act observed using video conference technology and promptly transmit the original wet-notarized original document to the principal or the principal's designee by mail or other physical delivery as directed by the principal.
  15. Requires the Notary to administer an oath or affirmation to the affiant using video conference technology if the notarial act is an oath or affirmation.
  16. Requires the certificate of acknowledgment or jurat for an emergency video notarization to include: (a) The North Carolina county in which the Notary public was located during the emergency video notarization. (b) The North Carolina county in which the principal stated he or she was physically located during the emergency video notarization. (c) The following statement: “I signed this notarial certificate on _________ (Date) according to the emergency video notarization requirements contained in G.S.10B-25” and requires the Notary to add this statement if it is not there already.
  17. Provides that by making or giving a notarial certificate using emergency video notarization, whether or not stated in the certificate, a Notary certifies compliance with all the requirements of GS 10B-25.
  18. Requires the Notary, as a public official, to maintain the confidentiality of a principal's documents always.
  19. Authorizes the Secretary to issue interpretive guidance or issue emergency or temporary rules as necessary to ensure the integrity of the emergency video notarization measures.
  20. Provides that the emergency video notarization provisions expire at 12:01 A.M. on August 1, 2020; provided, however, all notarial acts made in accordance with Section 10B-25 and while the section is in effect shall remain effective and shall not need to be reaffirmed.

Journal of Emergency Video Notarizations

  1. Requires a Notary who performs an emergency video notarization to record information about the notarization in a Notary journal that is the exclusive property of the Notary.
  2. Requires the journal to be retained by the Notary for at least 10 years and may be maintained in electronic form.
  3. Requires the Notary to keep the journal in a secure location and shall not allow another person to make entries in the journal.
  4. Authorizes a Notary to surrender the journal to the Notary's employer upon termination of employment, but the requires the Notary also to keep and maintain an accurate copy of the journal.
  5. Requires the journal to contain the following entries for each emergency video notarization: (a) The time of day when the Notary observed the signing of the document by each principal and was presented with the principal's acceptable form of identification. (b) The date of the completion of the emergency video notarization notarial certificate. (c) The last and first name of each principal. (d) The type of notarial act performed. (e) The type of document notarized or proceeding performed. (f) The type of acceptable form of identification presented, including, if applicable, the issuing agency and identification number on the identification presented. (g) The type of video conference technology used during the emergency video notarization. (h) A statement that the Notary and each principal could see and hear each other. (i) Whether any other person was present with the principal at the time of signature and if so, the name of that person.
  6. Authorizes a third party involved in a transaction that utilizes an emergency video notarization to require additional information to be included in the journal kept by the Notary, such as the inclusion of a recording in the Notary's journal or the method used by the Notary to determine that a wet-signed original document is the same as the faxed or electronically submitted document.
Analysis:

North Carolina becomes the latest state to adopt temporary authorization to perform notarizations by videoconference technology by a legislative act rather than a governor’s executive order. This enactment is noteworthy because Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has been a champion of face-to-face electronic notarizations and her office has resisted efforts to endorse any form of remote notarization. But these are not ordinary times and a temporary authorization (SB 704 is effective until August 1, 2020) makes sense for those individuals and businesses that are affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the bill text.

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