- April 24, 2020
- All Pennsylvania Issuing Offices
- UNDERWRITING - Temporary Remote Online Notarization During Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)
Beginning April 20, 2020, remote online notarization (RON) is temporarily authorized for all Pennsylvania notaries public, pursuant to Act 15 of 2020 (S.B. 841):
This authorization will expire 60 days after termination or expiration of the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency issued by Governor Wolf.
S.B. 841 requires the following for Pennsylvania notaries who wish to provide notarial services for individuals not in their physical presence:
Notification to the Department of State
The notary must notify the Department of State that the notary will be conducting remote notarizations and designate the communication and identity-proofing technology that the notary intends to use. Notice is given to the Department in an online form provided by the Department and does not require the payment of any additional fees or any additional training.
Use of approved communication technology
The notary must use a technology that satisfies the following requirements:
- The technology must enable a notary public located in Pennsylvania to communicate with a remotely located individual simultaneously by sight and sound and make reasonable accommodations for persons with vision, hearing or speech impairments.
- The technology must enable the notary public to determine the identity of the remotely located customer based either (1) on his or her personal knowledge; (2) the testimony of a credible witness; or (3) by using at least two identity-proofing technologies or services. Identify-proofing processes or services include having the remotely located individual answer questions for which there is a high probability that only the true individual would be able to answer correctly or may identify the individual through the use of biometric identification technology or the analysis of identification cards. The identity of a witness must be determined in the same manner as the identity of the remotely located customer.
- The technology must enable the identification of a record before in the presence of the notary as the same record being signed by or containing a statement made by the remotely located individual. This can be accomplished by the use of electronic records or signatures created using tamper evident technology; the presence of the same tangible record before the notary and the remotely located individual; or by the exchange of tangible records.
- The technology must create an audio-visual recording of the notarization, including all interactions between the notary public and the remotely located individual, that will be retained by the notary public or a person acting on his or her behalf for at least ten years.
At this time, only the following vendors are approved by Stewart Title:
Modified notarial certificate
The notarial certificate must disclose that the notarization was conducted using communication technology. This requirement is satisfied by using the following statement:
“This notarial act involved the use of communication technology.”
Location of notary and remotely located individual
The notary public must be in Pennsylvania at the time of the notarial act. The notarial certificate will reflect the county where the notary is physically located at the time of the notarization. The remotely located individual may be in Pennsylvania, another state or U.S. territory or possession, or in a foreign country.
Issuing agent must verify with the appropriate Recorder of Deeds Office that the document will be accepted for recording.
Issuing agents must comply with all requirements included in the following, previously issued, Stewart national bulletins: SLS 2020003 and SLS 2020004 (attached below).
As a reminder, this Act, authorizing remote online notarization, is temporary and will expire 60 days after termination or expiration of the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency declaration, issued by Governor Wolf.
Act 15 of 2020 (S.B. 841) supersedes all other guidelines and memoranda issued by the Pennsylvania Department of State related to the temporary suspension of the requirement of physical presence of notaries for all notarial acts.
Stewart Underwriting will continue to monitor the situation and keep you apprised of any developments by updating and supplementing this bulletin as needed.
Please note we have 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.
- Bulletins Replaced:
- PA2020002 UNDERWRITING - Temporary Suspension of Personal Appearance Requirement During Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)
- PA2020003 UNDERWRITING - UPDATE - Temporary Suspension of Personal Appearance Requirement During Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)
- Related Bulletins:
- SLS2017002 UNDERWRITING - Electronic Signatures and Electronic and Remote Notarization
- SLS2020003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
- SLS2020004 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
- Underwriting Manual:
- Exceptions Manual: