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WBK Industry News - State Regulatory Developments

Michigan Amends Notary Law to Allow Electronic Notarization

Michigan recently enacted S.B. 664, which amends the state’s notary statute.  Among other things, the amendment creates procedures for notaries to conduct electronic notarizations and remote notarizations, and for the State to identify secure and reliable electronic and remote notary systems.

The amendments allow—but do not require—notaries to use approved, “tamper-evident” electronic notarization systems.  These systems include the applications, programs, hardware, software, and other technologies necessary to conduct electronic notarizations.  The Secretary of State (who manages notary licensing), in conjunction with the State’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, is required to approve at least one electronic notarization system by March 30, 2019 for notaries to use.  In deciding which systems to approve, the Secretary must consider, at minimum: 1) the need to ensure that any change to or tampering with an electronic record is evident; 2) the need to ensure integrity in the creation, transmittal, storage, or authentication of electronic notarizations, records, or signatures; 3) the need to prevent fraud or mistake in the performance of electronic notarizations; 4) the ability to adequately investigate and authenticate electronic notarial acts; 5) the most current standards regarding electronic notarizations or records promulgated by national bodies, such as the National Association of Secretaries of State; and 6) the standards, practices, and customs of other jurisdictions that allow electronic notarization.

The Secretary of State is also required to consider, and may approve, the use of remote notarization platforms.  Remote notarization refers to technology that enables a notary public to perform a notarial act remotely; that allows the notary public to communicate by sight and sound with the individual for whom he or she is performing the notarial act, and witnesses, if applicable, by means of audio and visual communication; and that includes features to validate credentials and confirm the identity of the people who appear remotely.  In determining whether to allow remote notarization, and in determining which remote notarization systems to approve, the Secretary of State is required to consider the same factors used in approving electronic notarization systems.  Notaries who conduct remote notarizations must also adopt additional recordkeeping practices.

The amendments also add or update definitions to the statute and update the process by which people may apply to become notaries.

The amendments will take effect on March 12, 2019.

For a copy of the new law, click here.