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Executive Order

RI Standards of Conduct for Remote Notarizations (2020)

Notary Law Update: RI Standards of Conduct for Remote Notarizations (2020)

State: Rhode Island

Summary:

The Rhode Island Secretary of State has added temporary remote online notarization standards to its Standards of Conduct for Notaries Public in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Signed:  April 03, 2020

Effective:  April 03, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Rhode Island Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. Incorporates temporary standards for remote online notarization due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  2. Clarifies that Section 2(j) of the Standards are superseded while the Section 8 temporary remote online standards are in effect.
  3. Defines “identity proofing,” “‘personal appearance’, ‘in person’ or ‘appear personally’ and ‘remotely located individual.
  4. Authorizes a Notary commissioned under Rhode Island laws may perform a notarization for a remotely located individual not in the physical presence of the Notary if the Notary follows certain requirements as specified below.
  5. Requires the Notary and remotely located individual and the Notary can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process at the time of the notarization.
  6. Requires a Notary to reasonably identify the remotely located individual by one or more of the following: (a) two types of identity proofing; or (b) by oath or affirmation from a credible witness who is in the physical presence of either the Notary or the remotely located individual or is able to communicate with the Notary and the remotely located individual simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process at the time of the notarization; or (c) by personal knowledge under General Laws Section 42.30.1-6(a).
  7. Requires a credible witness to have personal knowledge of the remotely located individual and to have been identified by the Notary under Section 8(b)(2)(i)(a) or Section 8(b)(2)(i)(c) of the Standards and Conduct.
  8. Requires the Notary, either directly or through an agent: (a) to create an audio and visual recording of the performance of the notarization; and (b) retain the audio-visual recording or cause the recording to be retained by a repository designated by or on behalf of the Notary.
  9. Clarifies that unless Rhode Island law requires a different period of retention, the recording must be retained for a period of at least ten (10) years after the recording is made.
  10. Requires the record for a remote online notarial act for an individual physically located outside the geographic boundaries of the State of Rhode Island: (a) to be intended for filing with or relate to a matter before a court, governmental entity, public official, or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; or (b) involve property located in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or a transaction substantially connected to the United States.
  11. Requires that in order to perform a remote online notarial act for an individual physically located outside the geographic boundaries of the State of Rhode Island the Notary must have no actual knowledge that the act of making the statement or signing the record is prohibited by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the remotely located individual is physically located.
  12. Clarifies the Standards of Conduct do not require a Notary to perform a notarization (a) with respect to an electronic record; (b) for an individual not in the physical presence of the Notary; or (c) using a technology that the Notary has not selected.
  13. Requires that once signed, the requesting person involved in a remote notarization must mail the signed copy of the documents to the Notary for certification and execution with the notary’s signature and the official stamp. 
  14. Clarifies that the official date and time of the remote notarization is the date and time when the Notary witnesses the signature via the electronic devices that provide the audio/video presence.
  15. Provides that prior to commencing remote online notarization, a Notary must register with the commissioning agency, providing the capability to perform remote online notarial acts and the name of the approved solution provider, an exemplar of the Notary’s electronic signature and official electronic stamp.
Analysis:

Rhode Island adopts temporary provisions for remote online notarization due to the COVID-19 pandemic by updating its Standards of Conduct for Notaries Public. The Standards were originally endorsed and published through executive order by then-Governor Donald Carcieri. They have been amended several times since then under the authority of the original executive order. The temporary remote provisions in the Standard mirror those of other jurisdictions. While the Standards do not require the use of a dedicated remote online notarization platform; all that is required is a device or process that allows the Notary and remotely located individual to communicate by sight and sound. Rhode Island is a state has enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts. Thus, it applies certain provisions from the RULONA provisions related to notarizations for remotely located individuals. The Standards require the signed document to be physically mailed to the Notary so the Notary can complete the notarial certificate on the document and mail it back. The date of the notarization is not the date the Notary receives the document in the mail; rather, it is the date when the Notary and remotely located individual appeared before each other using communication technology. The new standards for remote notarization are effective only during the state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Read the revised Standards of Conduct.

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