Governor Signs Amendment to New York Remote Online Notarization Bill
- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed Senate Bill 7780, which makes significant updates to the prior remote online notarization (RON) bill that was signed in late 2021.
- This Holland & Knight alert explains key takeaways from the amendment, provides an updated analysis of New York's remote notarization laws and summarizes important benefits of the amendment.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Senate Bill 7780 on Feb. 25, 2022. The new law makes significant updates to Senate Bill 1780C, the prior RON bill. For information about the original RON bill, please see the previous Holland & Knight alert, "New York Remote Online Notarization Bill Signed Into Law," Dec. 23, 2021.
Below are four key takeaways from the amendment.
- Moves the effective date the state's notaries can conduct RONs from June 20, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2023.
- Immediately allows use of a highly modified version of remote ink notarizations (RIN) that were allowed through prior executive orders as a stop-gap process until RONs are allowed.
- Clarifies that signers/principals can execute documents using RIN and RON processes if they are outside of the United States where the matter involves a U.S. court or government entity, or the document involves property located in or concerns a transaction relating to the U.S. The notary, however, will have to be in the state of New York when notarizing the document.
- Adds verbiage to be included in the notary blocks for RINs and RONs to help identify that the document was remotely notarized and requires county clerks to accept RIN and RON documents for recording when a Certification of Authenticity is included in the document.
How RONs Generally Work
For a detailed explanation on how RONs work and business cases for its implementation, please see the related articles, "Remote Online Notarization Will Support Business Continuity," March 24, 2020, and "Remote Online Notarization in Mortgage Loan Closings," April 2021.
Updated Analysis of New York's RIN and RON Law
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor issued Executive Order 202.7 (as subsequently amended) (EO), which allowed the state's notaries to conduct RINs during the pandemic. Because of the exigent circumstances, the EO did not require New York notaries to use many of the technologies generally used when conducting RONs such as video recording, credential analysis or identity proofing. Instead, the EO relied on real-time video, presentation of identification over video and then sending the signed document to the notary so it could then be notarized.
The prior RON bill, 1780C, did not permit RINs; rather, it set the stage for New York to begin allowing RONs in June 2022. Recognizing that the state will need additional time to fully implement a regulatory scheme to support RONs and that there is a need for remote notarization in the interim, Senate Bill 7780 allows for RINs to begin immediately after the law takes effect. After the law was signed by Gov. Hochul on Feb. 25, 2022, New York notaries were able to conduct RINs. They can continue to do so through Jan. 30, 2023 – at which time only RONs will be permitted. The new law, unlike the old EO, requires RINs to follow many of the best practices found in more traditional RON laws.
Key Procedural Safeguards for New York RINs and RONs
Whether a document is a RIN or RON, both require:
- real-time audio-video
- recording of the notarial act, to be maintained for 10 years
- confirmation of the signer by either:
a. personal knowledge
b. presentation of their identification, credential analysis and identity proofing
c. credible witness (this may only be available when a remote notarization is conducted by RIN – and the authors expect the New York Secretary of State to provide additional clarity on this point)
- a Certificate of Authenticity that acts as an additional notary block and allows RIN and RON documents to ensure county clerks will accept the document for recording
The New York Secretary of State is permitted to establish regulations on RINs and RONs, and it is possible that notaries will be required to adhere to additional standards.
Important Benefits of the Amendment
As of Feb. 25, 2022, New York state notaries are able to start notarizing documents under this law without additional licensing or fees. They will, however, need to use the appropriate technology to ensure they are recording the notary sessions, performing the necessary identity verification and maintaining the necessary log. When RONs go live in January 2023, notaries wishing to perform them will be required to register with the state and pay an additional fee.
When the document contains the Certification of Authenticity, county clerks are required to record the RIN or RON document, assuming there are no other issues with the document. Some other state RON laws do not have this requirement, and so there is some risk in those jurisdictions that the county clerk will not accept RON documents. New York's statute wisely eliminates this problem.
The statute also explicitly allows signers to be out of the country when they sign as long as the document relates to a legal or government matter or involves property or a transaction related to the United States.
For additional questions on the new law, how to perform RINs and RONs or implementation for these exciting technologies for your company, please contact the authors.
Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.