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The American Land Title Association (ALTA) announced it has developed principles for notarizations conducted remotely.

The principles outline guidelines to give consumers digital technology options for notarizations that incorporate safeguards to reduce fraud and protect property rights of consumers. In addition, the principles say any remote notarization must meet certain criteria to provide confidence in the transfer of real estate.

“The American Land Title Association and its members have been at the forefront in developing standards for digital closing options that have the appropriate safeguards and authentication process to protect consumers while ensuring the notarizations provide certainty and effective constructive notice under state law,” ALTA CEO Diane Tomb said in a release. “Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the need for digital transactions and use of remote notarizations has increased. We believe our principles provide a strong foundation for the use of various types of remote notarizations going forward.”

The principles begin by stating: “Notarizations are central to the process of transferring real estate safely. For that reason, the American Land Title Association (ALTA), which represents the real estate settlement services, abstract and title insurance industry, has developed the following principles for notarizations conducted remotely, outside of temporary emergencies such as COVID-19. The principles outlined below represent ALTA’s vision of the remote notarization system of the near-term future.”

The principles then focused on three areas: leveraging technology, protecting consumers and ensuring usability.
In regard to leveraging technology, ALTA stated remote notarization options should scale sufficiently to allow for broad adoption and allow for leveraging various identity proofing measures. ALTA said customers also should be provided with digital options to complete their real estate transaction and innovation through technology neutrality should be encouraged.

Remote notarization options also should provide protective measures, including multifactor, third-party authentication prior to signing; the capture of an audio-visual record of the notarial act; measures for verifying document integrity; record retention for seven to 10 years; and consumer data and privacy safeguards.

ALTA also said that notarizations should meet several criteria to provide sufficient confidence for use in real estate transfer, including — reciprocity and recognition in any state or jurisdiction; recordability in the land records, including capabilities to record certified paper copies of electronic documents in jurisdictions not ready for eRecording; and disclosure of remote notarization on the document.

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