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RI House Bill 7363/Senate Bill 2705

Legislation

State: Rhode Island
Signed: June 30, 2022

Effective: June 30, 2022
Chapter: 438 and 439

Summary
Rhode Island enacts permanent remote notarization provisions and increases the fees a Notary Public may charge.
Affects
Amends sections 42-30.1-2, 42-30.1-3, 42-30.1-4, 42-30.1-5, 42-30.1-6 and 42-30.1-12 of the Rhode Island General Laws. 
Changes

Definitions

  1. Defines “communication technology,” “foreign state,” “identity proofing,” “outside the United States,” and “remotely located individual.”

Certification of a Tangible Copy of an Electronic Record

  1. Authorizes a notarial officer to certify that a tangible copy of an electronic record is an accurate copy of the electronic record.
  2. Requires a notarial officer who certifies or attests a copy of a record or an item that was copied to determine that the copy is a full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction of the record or item.

Personal Appearance

  1. Clarifies that personal appearance means that either the principal and the Notary Public communicate by communication technology at the time of the notarization, or that the principal and Notary Public are physically close enough to communicate with each other at the time of notarization.

Identification

  1. Clarifies that a notarial officer has personal knowledge of the identity of an individual appearing before the notarial officer if the individual is personally known to the notarial officer through dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the individual has the identity claimed.
  2. Authorizes a notarial officer to identify an individual by verification on oath or affirmation of a credible witness personally appearing before the notarial officer and known to the officer or whom the officer can identify based on a passport, driver's license, or government-issued nondriver identification card, which is current or expired not more than three years before performance of the notarial act.

Foreign Notarial Acts

  1. Provides that a notarial act performed under the authority of a multinational or international governmental organization has the same effect under Rhode Island law as if performed by a Rhode Island notarial officer. 

Remote Notarization

  1. Clarifies that a remotely located individual may comply with the requirement to personally appear before a Notary Public by using communication technology.
  2. Authorizes a Notary Public located in Rhode Island to use communication technology to perform a notarial act if the Notary (i) has personal knowledge of the remotely located individual, (ii) can identify the remotely located individual by the oath or affirmation from a credible witness appearing physically or remotely before the Notary, or (iii) can identify the remotely located individual by at least two forms of identity proofing.
  3. Authorizes a Notary Public located in Rhode Island to use communication technology to perform a notarial act if the Notary is able reasonably to confirm that a record before the Notary is the same record in which the remotely located individual made a statement or on which the individual executed a signature.
  4. Authorizes a Notary Public located in Rhode Island to use communication technology to perform a notarial act if the Notary, or a person acting on behalf of the Notary, creates an audiovisual recording of the performance of the notarial act.
  5. Authorizes a Notary Public located in Rhode Island to use communication technology to perform a notarial act for a remotely located individual located outside the United States if the record (a) will be filed with or relates to a matter before a public official or court, governmental entity or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, or (b) involves property located in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or involves a transaction substantially connected with the United States.
  6. Authorizes a Notary Public located in Rhode Island to use communication technology to perform a notarial act for a remotely located individual outside the United States if the act of making the statement or signing the record is not prohibited by the foreign state in which the remotely located individual is located.
  7. Requires that a certificate of notarial act using communication technology for a remotely located individual must indicate the act was performed using communication technology.
  8. Provides that a short-form certificate for a notarial act using communication technology for a remotely located individual is sufficient if it complies with rules adopted regarding notarial acts for remotely located individuals, or is in the form provided in RIGL § 42-30.1-12.2(g) and contains a statement substantially as follows: "This notarial act involved the use of communication technology."
  9. Requires a Notary Public, a guardian, conservator or agent of a Notary, or a personal representative of a deceased Notary to retain the audio-visual recording or cause the recording to be retained by a repository designated by or on behalf of the person required to retain the recording.
  10. Requires the audio-visual recording to be retained for at least 10 years unless a different period is required by administrative rule.
  11. Requires a Notary Public to notify the commissioning agency that the Notary will be performing notarial acts with respect to remotely located individuals and identify the technologies the Notary intends to use before the Notary performs the Notary’s first notarial act for a remotely located individual.
  12. Requires the Notary Public to select communication or identity proofing technologies that conform to any standards established by the commissioning agency for the performance of notarial acts for remotely located individuals.

Certificate of a Remote Notarial Act

  1. Requires that a notarial act for a remotely located individual must be evidenced by a certificate.
  2. Requires that a certificate of notarial act: (a) be executed contemporaneously with the performance of the notarial act; (b) be signed and dated by the notarial officer and, if the notarial officer is a Notary Public, be signed in the same manner as on file with the commissioning agency; (c) identify the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed; (d) contain the title of the office of the notarial officer; and (e) if the notarial officer is a Notary Public, indicate the date of expiration, if any, of the officer's commission.
  3. Requires a Notary Public to affix an official stamp on a tangible notarial certificate.
  4. Provides that if a notarial act is performed regarding a tangible record by a notarial officer other than a Notary and the certificate is signed and dated by the notarial officer, identifies the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed, and contains the title of the office of the notarial officer, an official stamp may be affixed to or embossed on the certificate.
  5. Provides that if a notarial act is performed regarding an electronic record by a notarial officer and the certificate is signed and dated by the notarial officer, identifies the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed, and contains the title of the office of the notarial officer, an official stamp may be attached to or logically associated with the certificate.
  6. Provides a certificate of notarial act is sufficient if it meets the requirements of RIGL § 42-30.1-12.2(a) and (b) and (1) is in a form otherwise permitted by Rhode Island law, (2) is in a form permitted by the law applicable in the jurisdiction in which the notarial act was performed, or (3) sets forth the actions of the notarial officer and the actions are sufficient to meet the requirements of the notarial act as provided in RIGL §§ 42-30.1-4, 42-30.1-5, and 42-30.1-6 or any other applicable Rhode Island law.
  7. Clarifies that by executing a notarial certificate, a notarial officer certifies that the officer has complied with the requirements and made the determinations specified in RIGL §§ 42-30.1-3, 42-30.1-4, and 42-30.1-5.
  8. Prohibits a notarial officer from affixing the officer's signature to, or logically associating it with, a certificate until the notarial act has been performed.
  9. Requires that a tangible notarial certificate be part of or securely attached to the record.
  10. Requires that an electronic notarial certificate be affixed to or logically associated with the electronic record.
  11. Requires the commissioning agency to develop short-form certificates of notarial acts, if completed with the information required by RIGL § 42-30.1-12.2(a), (b) and (c), for the purposes of (a) an acknowledgment in an individual capacity; (b) an acknowledgment in a representative capacity; (c) a verification on oath or affirmation; (d) witnessing or attesting a signature; and (5) certifying a copy of a record.

Fees for Notarial Acts

  1. Increases the statutory fee a Notary Public may charge from up to $5 per document or notarization to up to $25 per document or notarization.
  2. Requires a Notary Public to disclose all fees to the person utilizing the services of the Notary prior to performance of the notarial act.
  3. Authorizes a Notary Public to charge up to $25 per document or notarization for performance of a notarial act for a remotely located individual.
  4. Requires a Notary Public to disclose all fees for the performance of a notarial act for a remotely located individual prior to the performance of a notarial act.
Analysis

In 2019 Rhode Island enacted a modified version of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) that omitted RULONA’s certificate provisions. House Bill 7363 and Senate Bill 2705 enact the 2021 amendments to the RULONA regarding notarizations for remotely located individuals along with the certificate provisions. The new law also increases the statutory fee a Notary Public may charge from $5 per document or notarization to up to $25 per document or notarization and allows Notaries to certify tangible copies of electronic records.

There are questions the new law raises. The first is relating to the fee for a notarial act, which is set “per document or notarization.” For example, if two signers sign a single document, that is two notarial acts. But since there is only one document, it is unclear if a Notary could charge $25 or $50. The second is that the provisions related to certificates of notarial acts are expressly said to apply to notarial acts for remotely located individuals (see the caption of RIGL § 42-30.1-12.2 and § 42-30.1-12.2[a]). Does this mean that a Notary isn’t required to complete a notarial certificate for a traditional, tangible (paper) notarial act? And does the provision that requires the Notary to affix an official stamp to a tangible (paper record) (see § 42.30.1-12.2[b]) only apply to tangible records that are notarized for remotely located individuals and not all other signers of paper records?

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