Wisconsin Passes Remote Online Notarization Bill

February 20, 2020

Wisconsin became the latest state to pass legislation that allows for remote online notarization (RON).

AB 293, which is based off the ALTA-MBA model RON bill, awaits the governor’s signature. The legislation goes into effect in June 1, 2020. Wisconsin is the 23rd state to pass RON legislation. The Wisconsin Land Title Association was instrumental in getting the legislation passed.

This bill allows a notary public holding a commission from the state’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to obtain an additional commission as an online notary public. This authorizes the notary public to perform online notarial acts for persons who are not in the same physical location as the notary public. The bill further requires registration of online notarization system providers.

According to the bill, an online notary public who is physically located in this state may perform an online notarial act for a person who is physically located in the United States or for a person who is physically located outside the United States if certain conditions are satisfied. An online notarial act is a notarial act performed by means of communication technology that meets standards established by DFI.

“Communication technology” means an electronic device or process that allows an individual physically in one location and a notary public physically located at another location in this state to communicate with each other in real time by sight and sound. An online notary public must verify the identity of the person for whom the notarial act is performed (principal) using certain prescribed procedures. A person for whom an online notarial act is performed is considered to appear personally before the online notary public at the time of the online notarial act. The bill says an online notary public must use an electronic notarial seal for an online notarial act and must prepare an electronic certificate of notarial act that satisfies certain requirements.

Regarding storage, the bill requires an online notary public to keep specified electronic records for online notarized documents and must maintain the security of these records. The online notary public must also create an audio and video copy of the performance of the online notarial act. The online notary public must take reasonable steps to ensure the integrity and security of online notarizations, maintain a backup for all electronic records, and protect the backup records from unauthorized use. The online notary public may, however, designate a repository to maintain the electronic records and the audio and video recordings, and if such a designation is made the repository is subject to these requirements.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.