SOURCE: National Notary Association

February 19, 2007 12:12 ET

National Notary Association Shares Secure Technology to Deter International Fraud

The Electronic Pilot Program Offers Businesses and Governments Dramatic Cost Savings, Increased Security in the International Exchange of Documents Worldwide

CHATSWORTH, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 19, 2007 -- The National Notary Association (NNA), in partnership with The Hague Conference on Private International Law, is offering a solution to counter document fraud and rising business costs with the introduction of the Electronic Apostille Pilot Program (e-APP). The program -- using a form of the NNA's secure technology for notarizing documents -- will streamline business, increase security and is available now.

Apostilles are authenticating certificates that accompany notarized documents exchanged between nations. They are governed by the Hague's enormously popular 1961 Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents which revamped the traditional series of certificates from various agencies. Apostilles are widely used for contracts, powers of attorney and international adoptions, as well as many other commercial and private transactions. They allow nations to rely on the security of the documents they are receiving by providing one "seal of approval" from the issuing country.

Electronic apostilles use a paperless process to legalize documents with technology the NNA is providing for free. Over 90 states are Party to the Convention (for more information, visit The Hague's web site: http://hcch.e-vision.nl/index_en.php?act=text.display&tid=37). State governments within the United States alone issue close to 1,000,000 Apostilles annually. The e-APP promises to increase the speed and security of these extremely important transactions around the world.

"The NNA participated in developing this important initiative because of the numerous benefits it provides businesses, including providing a standardized, secure format for authenticating documents from a variety of industries," said Tim Reiniger, executive director of the NNA. "By providing this technology free, we're supporting our mission of protecting the integrity of notarization in an electronic age."

The e-APP, launched by the NNA and the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 2006, already has met its first-year goals and is getting more and more interest from the more than 90 nations Party to the Hague's Apostille Convention. One of the goals of the Convention was to develop secure, cost-effective methods for issuing electronic Apostilles and electronically registering them online. By the third year of the e-APP, the NNA expects half of the nations that subscribe to the Convention to have joined the Program.

Three jurisdictions already are participating -- Kansas, Rhode Island and Colombia -- and six other jurisdictions have committed to the program. Kansas became the first jurisdiction in the world to send a paperless Apostille certificate to another country, Colombia, which accepted the e-Apostille. Rhode Island adopted the program's free electronic registry software. Any person can now securely search online for a paper-based Apostille (and soon an e-Apostille) Rhode Island officials issued by entering the name and date and the registry will show if there's a matching entry.

"The e-APP means saving Rhode Island residents and businesses time and money. The registry will reduce the number of documents that are rejected by foreign countries because it proves an Apostille was really issued by Rhode Island officials," said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis. "Receiving nations can check the number and date of the Apostille and feel confident accepting it."

Drawing on its experience developing the Electronic Notary Seal (ENS™), which renders notarized documents tamper-evident after the Notary's electronic seal is affixed, thus protecting against document fraud and forgery, the NNA developed a similar software model for adoption by government officials who issue Apostilles. The ENS, which contains information about the Notary next to his or her signature, also allows anyone to instantly check the Notary's credentials via the National eNotary Registry at www.ensvalidate.org. This free public Registry ensures document recipients can verify the Notary's electronic credential.

The graphic shown below demonstrates the seal and accompanying Notary information. The Apostille program operates on the same model.

About the National Notary Association

Founded in 1957, the National Notary Association (NNA) is committed to the professional development of Notaries throughout the United States by providing education, support and advocacy. The NNA educates lawmakers, businesses and state officials on best notarial practices, and leads efforts to make necessary changes in state and federal statutory framework. The Association has more than 300,000 members and offers nationally accredited Notary education programs. For more information, go to www.nationalnotary.org.

Contact Information

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    Melinda Barrett
    Communications Manager
    (818)635-6865