Bulletin: MD2020002

Date:
April 03, 2020
To:
All Maryland Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Maryland State Executive Order 20-03-30-04 Authorizing Remote Notarizations [Revised 4-6-20]

Dear Associates:

On March 30, 2020, Maryland Governor, Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr., issued Executive Order Number 20-03-30-04 (the “EO”). See here. During the COVID-19 emergency, Maryland’s requirement that individuals appear in-person before a notary public is temporarily waived. All other requirements for performing notarial acts remain in full force and effect. The Secretary of State, John C. Wobensmith, has issued the following guidance for remote notarizations:

  • You must be a current notary in good standing;
  • You must notify the Office of the Secretary of State of your intent to use remote notarizations by using the notification form found here and submitting via email to: remotenotary.sos@maryland.gov;
  • You must identify the communications technology vendor you will use and confirm that the vendor allows you to, in real time, (1) view the remotely located individual and (2) compare for consistency the information and photos presented as identification credentials;
  • For each notarial act conducted remotely, you must create and retain an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act;
  • For each notarial act conducted remotely, you must note on the notarial certification and in your notary log or journal that the notarial act was performed for a remotely located individual using communications technology; and
  • You may NOT charge more than $4 for each remote online notarial act using communication technology, which is the same fee that may be charged when performing an in person notarial act.

Please note that the Secretary of State’s guidance specifically states the services such as Skype or Facetime do not meet technology requirements. The Secretary of State’s guidance document can be found here.

Stewart is committed to our partners and providing solutions to allow agents and Stewart Issuing Offices to continue closing and insuring transactions. Given the uncertainty of how COVID-19 may impact real estate transactions, and in the interest of providing our Issuing Offices the tools necessary to provide service to their customers, we are implementing the following procedures, outlined below, which are EFFECTIVE until the State of Emergency and the proclamation of a health emergency has been rescinded (unless extended or otherwise modified). Stewart agents may use remote notarization to facilitate the Notarial act.

In the event you do not use an approved Platform, remote notarization technology must:

  • Technology platform must provide for the audio/video preservation of the entire notarial transaction, which should be retained for a period of seven (7) years.
  • Technology must provide for verification of location (Principal must be in MD).
  • Technology must provide for secure storage and transmission of the Non-public personal information.

Additional underwriting requirements:

  • Parties, including lender must authorize in writing the use of the video notary process.
  • The title company must verify County clerk will accept the remote notary.
  • If the technology platform is not of Stewart’s approved vendors, Stewart must approve the technology vendor. See here for a list of Stewart’s approved vendors.
  • Notary Public must sign a in form satisfactory to company confirming compliance.
  • The approval of the remote notarizations is limited to policy amount up to $1,000,000 and is limited to buy-sale transactions, purchase money Deeds to secure debt, refinances and cash out refinances. Real Estate transactions in excess of $1,000,000 will be considered, however Issuing Offices shall obtain Stewart Underwriter approval.

Please note that remote notarization and Remote Online Notarization are different processes with different requirements. 

For reference please see Stewart National Bulletins SLS2020003 and SLS2020004 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization

Please Note: Stewart has a dedicated site on VU for all things COVID-19 related available: https://www.vuwriter.com/en/coronavirus-resources.html.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2020003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
 
SLS2020004 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None