Bulletin: TX2018003

Date:
June 07, 2018
To:
All Texas Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization in Texas (This Bulletin is a Supplement to SLS2018003)

Dear Associates:

Background:

The 2017 Texas Legislature has authorized Online Remote Notarization in Texas. It made the effective date of the law July 1, 2018, to give the Secretary of State time to create a regulatory structure for notaries to become licensed online notaries.

The Secretary of State decided to redo its entire regulatory structure for traditional notaries as well as the new electronic online notary, including remote notarization of documents.   

What is a remote online notarization?

Before we define a remote online notarization, we need to point out that Texas law has, for many years, allowed electronic documents and notarization of such documents by Texas notaries.  

What has changed is the technology that allows the notary to:

  • Create an online signature on the electronic document.
  • Consider that a person appearing before the notary by 2-way audio and video means has personally appeared before the notary as required by law and stated in the acknowledgment. 

May a Texas notary (currently licensed) become an electronic notary?

Yes. You must make an additional application for such a license with the Secretary of State.

See 1TAC 87 sections 87.11-.15 (especially 87.11 and 87.14).

Can a person become a traditional notary and an electronic notary at the same time?

Yes. The person must apply as a traditional notary under 87.2 and an electronic notary under 87.11. The person must meet the qualifications and pay both fees as required by the Secretary of State. 

What is the fee to become an online notary?

Section 87.14 (a) (2)c requires the payment of a $50.00 fee to the Secretary of State.

Can an Escrow Officer who is a Remote E-notary live outside of Texas?

Yes. Just like a traditional notary, an online notary who is a licensed escrow officer for a Texas title insurance agent or direct operation can reside in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Louisiana as per Sec 87.11.

Can a Texas Escrow Officer do online notarizations?

Yes, provided you have a traditional and online notary license issued by the Texas Secretary of State and have the appropriate tools provided by a preferred vendor. 

Can a Texas Escrow Officer notarize a person who is not located in Texas or even in the US?

Yes, provided that you comply with SLS2018003 and this bulletin. You may use your Texas seal and electronic signature on the Texas form of an electronic document, no apostille is required.

May an online notary not licensed in Texas as an online notary perform online notarizations on Texas property? 

87.41 provides an online notary public shall not perform an online notarization if the online notary public is not physically present in Texas at the time of the notarization. 

Are there limitations on the personal information that a Texas notary may keep? 

Yes, new section 87.50 prohibits the notary book from maintaining an identifying number (such as a driver’s license or passport) or other similar number or any biometric information such as thumb or fingerprints. Online notarizations may contain a record of such information.

Please note:  This is a change in the current method of keeping a copy of a driver’s license or passport either in the file or in your notary book. Your notary book may be kept online as long as it is adequately backed up. 

If you are performing an online notarization, a reputable vendor may keep the records and provide you with access to the information for at least 5 years, even if you change vendors. (87.51 and 87.54)

Does Texas have identity and credential analysis standards?

Yes. See 87.70.

The ID proofing must require a quiz with at least 5 questions, each with 5 possible answers and 80% must be answered correctly within 3 minutes. If the person fails the test, they may take it again once provided that 40% of the questions are different. If the person fails a 2nd time, they cannot take the test for 24 hours with the same notary.

The credential analysis must be automated, and use any of 4 methods. The online notary must be able to see the credentials, the results of the analysis and see the signer.

The vendor that does your identity and credential analysis must meet these standards.

Does Stewart have preferred vendors?

As stated in SLS2018003, Notarize and NotaryCam have been approved as technology providers of web-based technology.

May a Texas on-line notary public perform a notarization of a person not directly in front of the notary?

This question has several answers depending on the facts.

1.  Notary in Texas, signer in Texas - yes.

2.  Notary in Texas, signer in another US state - yes.

3.  Notary in Texas, signer in US Territory - yes (see SLS2018003, section 8 for list).

4.  Notary in Texas, signer in another country - it depends on the country. 

a.  Non-European Union country - yes, with underwriter approval.

b.  European Union Country - you must determine if the signer is an EU citizen. If so, Senior Underwriter approval is required. 

c.  As of the date of this bulletin, the following countries are members of the EU:       

       i. 

Austria (1995)

      ii.   

Belgium (1958)

      iii.  

Bulgaria (2007)

      iv.   

Croatia (2013)

       v.   

Cyprus (2004)

      vi.   

Czech Republic (2004)

     vii.   

Denmark (1973)

    viii.   

Estonia (2004)

     ix.   

Finland (1995)

      x.   

France (1958)

      xi.  

Germany (1958)

     xii.  

Greece (1981)

    xiii.  

Hungary (2004)

    xiv.   

Ireland (1973)

     xv.   

Italy (1958)

    xvi.   

Latvia (2004)

   xvii.   

Lithuania (2004)

  xviii.   

Luxembourg (1958)

   xix.   

Malta (2004)

    xx.   

Netherlands (1958)

   xxi.   

Poland (2004)

  xxii.   

Portugal (1986)

 xxiii.   

Romania (2007)

 xxiv.   

Slovakia (2004)

  xxv.   

Slovenia (2004)

 xxvi.   

Spain (1986)

 xxvii.  

Sweden (1995)

xxviii.  

United Kingdom (1973)

RON Taken Outside the U.S or RON Involving a European Union (E.U.) Citizen. Issuing Offices must obtain Stewart Underwriter approval when a Signer is physically located outside the U.S. at the time of a RON transaction. Additionally, if the Signer is an E.U. citizen, Issuing Offices must contact a Stewart Senior Underwriter.

Click here for a sample Choice of Closing Method & Consent form.

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:
SLS2018003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None