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Sweeping Changes To Ohio Notary Law Going Into Effect

Ohio-flags-resized.jpgUpdated 9-19-18. As of September 20, 2019, a new law is in effect in Ohio that implements significant changes for the state’s Notaries and those seeking to become Notaries. The new legislation is Senate Bill 263, the Notary Public Modernization Act.

Key provisions of SB 263 include the following changes to Ohio Notary law:

  • Updates to the way Notary commissions are obtained and renewed, including transfer of the commission process from the county courts of common pleas to the Secretary of State, requirements for education, testing and a criminal records check.
  • Increases in the fees Notaries may charge.
  • Rules for completing notarial certificates.
  • Rules for becoming an “online Notary Public” and performing online notarizations (often called remote online notarizations, webcam notarizations or remote notarizations).

Administrative rules implementing the law’s provisions have also been finalized. However, any law of this significance is bound to raise questions. Here’s what you need to know.

How is the OH Notary commissioning process changing?

As of September 20, 2019 anyone applying for a new Notary commission or seeking to renew their commission will do so through the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Applicants for new Ohio Notary commissions who are not attorneys will be required to:

  • Obtain a criminal records check that is not more than 6 months old at the time of the application.
  • Complete a 3-hour education program and pass a test.

Attorneys applying for a new Notary commission in Ohio will be required to complete a 3-hour training program. They will not, however, be required to obtain a criminal records check or take a test.

Notaries seeking to renew their Ohio commissions will be required to:

  • Provide an updated criminal records check that is not more than 6 months old at the time of the application.
  • Complete a 1-hour education program.

All applicants will be required to pay an application fee of $15.

When can I start my commission renewal process?

You may complete your continuing education requirement up to 12 months prior to the expiration of your current commission.

Note: If you plan to renew your Ohio commission, make sure you do it before your existing commission expires. If you let it lapse, you will be treated as a new commission applicant and required to complete the 3-hour course and pass the test.

How do I get a criminal records check?

The Ohio Attorney General’s office has an arrangement with a private company to conduct records checks. The office has a list of locations and contact information on its website.

The cost may vary. Fees listed on the AG’s website typically range from $30 to $40, but you should ask the provider in advance.

If your records check reveals a disqualifying offense, the Secretary of State’s office will inform you that your application must be denied and you must not complete the education and testing program.

How do I complete the education and testing requirement?

The Secretary of State’s office has posted a list of authorized education and testing providers along with their contact information.

[Note: The National Notary Association is an approved education and testing provider for new and renewing Notaries.]

The rules stipulate a fee of $130 for the education program and test for new commission applicants who are not attorneys. The education fee for attorneys is $75.

For renewal applications, the fee for the 1-hour education program is $45.

What if I fail the test?

Under the rules, you must wait 30 days to retake it. If you wait more than 6 months from the date your criminal records check was issued, you will have to start the entire application process all over. If you fail the test a second time, you will have to re-start the application process including a new education fee.

What are the new fees for notarizations in Ohio?

As of September 20, Ohio Notaries may charge up to $5 for any in-person, paper notarization. This is a significant increase over the previous fee schedule. The maximum fee for an electronic notarization that is not performed online is $10. The maximum fee for a remote online notarization is $25.

Do I need to use different Notary certificates?

For acknowledgments, you have two options:

  1. You can use the “statutory short forms of acknowledgment” in existing statute, or
  2. You can create your own certificate wording, but the new law stipulates that it contains the words “acknowledged before me” or their substantial equivalent, and clearly states that an oath or affirmation was not administered.

For jurats, the new law includes a new statutory jurat form. If you choose to draft your own wording, it must clearly state that an oath or affirmation was administered.

Where can I get Notary certificates that comply with the new law?

There are several options:

  • You can create your own following the requirements outlined in Ohio Revised Code Sec. 147.542.
  • You can use the statutory short form certificates (see links above).
  • You can purchase pre-printed pads of certificate forms from a vendor, such as the NNA.
  • NNA members can download the certificate forms free at the My NNA area of NationalNotary.org.

How do I become an “online Notary Public”?

Anyone who is a commissioned Ohio Notary may apply to be an online Notary. To become authorized you must:

  • Successfully complete a 2-hour education program and pass a test administered by an authorized provider.
  • Pay the authorized provider a fee of $250.
  • Submit your application to the Secretary of State and pay an application fee of $20.

If you fail the test, you may retake it but must wait at least 30 days after the date of your first test. However, you must retake the exam no later than 6 months after completing the education program. If you fail the exam a second time, you must re-start the authorization process.

Your authorization will last for the remaining term of your Notary commission.

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51 Comments

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David V Moore

19 Aug 2019

I am happy that the fee for notarizing a document will be increasing.

josephine

10 Sep 2019

what if you are already a notary?

National Notary Association

12 Sep 2019

Hello. Please see the section "Renewal Applications" at the OH Secretary of State's website: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/notary/file-online/

FRANK GOLLINGER

16 Sep 2019

I would hope the NNA is on the list of providers for both screenings and testing. What other organization would be as qualified and it reduces the potential for identity theft.

Aaron

20 Sep 2019

I suppose it's to much to ask that this background d check meets the requirements for an NSA....at least in the year a comission is renewed....because a lame allowable fee increase to $5 while increasing the cost of doing things 3bor 4 times over.....putting many of us out of business

Anna

30 Oct 2019

Is there also a test to renew? What is the cost of the renewal education program? And by the time all is said and done, you have paid about $500 out of pocket? If they were truly concerned about identify theft and other related issues they wouldn't be charging such outrageous fees. This is all about generating revenue. It is truly a disgrace. Again, one more reason to NOT live in Ohio. We are taxed and charged fees to death.

Charlene Nemeth

13 Nov 2019

Do you need to do anything if you are an existing notary?

National Notary Association

14 Nov 2019

Hello. If you plan to renew your Notary commission, you will need to complete the 1-hour educational requirement up to 12 months prior to your current commission expiration date. Also, if you do not start the renewal process before your current commission expires, you will be treated as a new commission applicant and required to complete the 3-hour course and pass the test.

Kathy Emmer

14 Nov 2019

This new process is totally inappropriate. The State of Ohio already makes citizens pay for everything except oxygen to breathe; and even that will be coming before we know it. Of course not many of us will be able to afford to retain our commissions, making it even more difficult for citizens to locate a Notary Public. Just a thought, why not repeal a few corporate tax exclusion laws and actually do something to benefit Ohioans.

LAURA DENNISON CUCUZZA

22 Nov 2019

Will there be any change going into effect regarding notary seals/stamps? I saw nothing on this subject listed.

National Notary Association

26 Nov 2019

Hello. The current seal requirements under Ohio Revised Code 147.04 are as follows: 147.04 Seal. Before entering upon the discharge of official duties, a notary public shall obtain the seal of a notary public. The seal shall consist of the coat of arms of the state within a circle that is at least three-quarters of an inch, but not larger than one inch, in diameter and shall be surrounded by the words "notary public," "notarial seal," or words to that effect, the name of the notary public, and the words "State of Ohio." The seal may be of either a type that will stamp ink onto a document or one that will emboss it. The name of the notary public may, instead of appearing on the seal, be printed, typewritten, or stamped in legible, printed letters near the notary public's signature on each document signed by the notary public.

Britt

01 Jan 2020

I do have a few questions after reading the comments. I am an new applicant and would like some clarity, Thank You in advance. 1) when applying for the 1st time as an Notary Public, the correct online class for OHIO will be "Non- attorney new applicant" Correct? 2) I see that the non-attorney new applicant training course has an cost of $75.00. Will that include the 3 mandatory hours and testing fee? As well as any fee associated with getting my certificate in hand once the test has been passed? 3) I have read and searched through your website. Should I expect to pay any other fees other than the $75.00 for the course as stated on your site? If there are any additional fees that I should be aware of please let me know what they will be so I can prepare for them. Thank You!!

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2020

Hello. The $75 you are referring to on our website is for the education course required for new Notary applicants who are also attorneys. For full information on costs for new nonattorneys, please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827.

Paula

01 Jan 2020

Can I use my fbi/bci background check for this as long as it t is less than six months old?

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2020

Hello. According to the Ohio Secretary of State's website: "To obtain an Ohio criminal records check report, an applicant must complete a form and complete a fingerprint impression sheet at an authorized agent of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation." A list of authorized agents is available at https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Business/Services-for-Business/WebCheck/Webcheck-Community-Listing.

Mary

06 Jan 2020

Hello, do you have a list of software vendors for Remote Online Notaries? Most of the ones I have seen are for real estate transactions. Thank you.

National Notary Association

07 Jan 2020

Hello, Mary. Please see this page for additional information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2018/06/remote-notarization-what-you-need-to-know

JLE

14 Jan 2020

How far back does the background check go...if you are a notary now and haven't had anything for 19 years

National Notary Association

15 Jan 2020

Hello. More information on background checks for an Ohio Notary application can be found at: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/notary/criminal-records-check/

Faith

29 Jan 2020

My commission expires 02/2021. If I am not interested in all the red tape and money required to renew, am I correct if I do nothing it will automatically expire or do I need to notify someone of my intention not to renew?

National Notary Association

30 Jan 2020

Hello Faith. To help us answer your question, can you please confirm what state you are commissioned in?

Stacie1978@live.com

04 Feb 2020

The sheriff department asked what code to use for the BCI background check and if it goes to me or the secretary of the state. I’m in Ohio any help would be appreciated

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2020

Hello. The code for the background check is 147 022.

Stephanie

06 Feb 2020

I am confused about the certificates. Do we need an additional certificate when notarizing now??

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2020

Hello. You may continue to use the OH certificate wording for acknowledgments in the existing statutes. For jurats, you may use the new statutory jurat form, or draft your own jurat wording. However, if you draft your own jurat wording, it must clearly state an oath or affirmation was administered.

Kennie C. Hopper

25 Feb 2020

I have been a non-attorney notary for over 35 years and find this increase in fee and testing an insult. I don't have a problem with the security check but I pay enough in the way of taxes in Ohio to croak a horse already. I'm 73 and will not renew my notary license just to be able to notarize an occasional Living Will or Trust document for members of my church which is about all I do. ps. I've never charged anyone a fee.

ladystorm837@gmail.com

26 Mar 2020

Does Ohio accept Military security clearance checks for a background check? If so what is needed for proof.

National Notary Association

27 Mar 2020

Hello. A Ohio criminal records check is required that is not more than 6 months old and issued by the Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation. For full instructions, please see here: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/notary/criminal-records-check/

Ronald Bell

06 Apr 2020

I am an Ohioan who has been a notary for 40 years. I was not interested in all the costs and hoops required of the new regulations, so my notary has now expired. I wonder how many thousands of Ohioans have also let or intend to let their license expire.

Sherry

22 Apr 2020

I am expressing my disappointment with the "price gouging" of being an Ohio Notary as well. The fee to take the course to become a remote notary is $250, not to mention the cost associated with maintaining a vendor relationship who has an approved platform for remote notarization, which may be upwards of $300-$400/yr. Or you can skip the vendor and sign up with companies like Notarize, so they can pay you an insultingly whooping $5 a notarization, while they charge companies $125. Let us not forget that we hold the true power, as these companies CANNOT do business WITHOUT us.

Dorothy Blaner

24 Apr 2020

I been a notary since 1975. Always paid to renew it in the county. Have never charged anyone when I was a legal secretary nor as a school superintendent secretary. Now, Not worth the total cost to renew. Have had BCI/Fbi since 1993. Would have gotten a new one. Making us take training is not needed. Switching it from county court just to make us jump thru hoops is stupid. Obviously you want to price gauge us for Helping people by being nice. Will not renew mine- letting it expire. You’ve lost any money from me.

Tamekia

29 Apr 2020

How long in advance can you do the continued education... 12 months prior but will it expire after the 12 months... Can you start before that....

National Notary Association

30 Apr 2020

Hello. You may take your continuing education up to 12 months prior to the expiration of your current commission in Ohio, as stated in the article above.

Donna

11 May 2020

If I am commissioned Notary in Pennsylvania, and I am also an approved notary for RON in Pennsylvania, can I perform a RON for a signer in Ohio and record the document in a recorders office in Ohio?

National Notary Association

11 May 2020

Hello. The signer would need to contact the recording office to ask if the remotely notarized document would be accepted or not.

Erica Gordon

14 May 2020

Is it Ohio law that the test questions cannot be reviewed or talked about after the test is administered? If you fail and you were confident, how will you know what to improve on?

tammy

05 Jun 2020

my notary doesn't expire till 2021. can I still notorize document's till my notary expire's or do I have to renew now? and i'm in ohio

National Notary Association

08 Jun 2020

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

TIMOTHY KOREN

05 Jun 2020

I have been a notary public for a lot of years but will undoubtedly let my current license expire because I am unable to pay the cost to renew it. I only receive SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME and SOCIAL SECURITY. I very seldom charge people for notorizing and for the amount I do get wouldn't be near enough to waste my time to do so! The person (people) who decided this is what should be done are probably wanting extra money to stuff their wallet.

Tyrone E Wicks

02 Jul 2020

Please look at the National Notary Association website and see some the reasons that the state wants to make the best practices of our best Notaries consistently is use across the state before you decide to resign or drop your commission.

JERALYNO@GMAIL.COM

12 Jul 2020

I have renewed but where do I send my BCI results?

National Notary Association

14 Jul 2020

In order to renew, Ohio Notaries must electronically submit to the Secretary of State: (a) a new Ohio criminal records check that is not more than 6 months old or a federal background check issued by the U.S. Department of Justice that is not more than 6 months old; (b) evidence of successful completion of at least 1 hour of continuing education provided by an authorized education provider; and (c) an application fee of $15 (OAR 111-6-1-3[C]).

Kris

29 Jul 2020

When you take the continuing education 1 hour class for the Ohio Notary renewal do you have to take a test after the 1 hour class?

National Notary Association

31 Jul 2020

Hello. A test is not required for renewing OH Notaries.

Roxanne Priah

28 Aug 2020

Hello , is there any place or any one who can help guide me through the process of become a Notary Public?

National Notary Association

31 Aug 2020

Hello. You can find information and resources at www.nationalnotary.org/become-a-notary.

frankssearch@yahoo.com

31 Aug 2020

I renewed my commission and would like my new stamp sent to me. Is there anything I need to do to make this happen. My current commission expired 10-29-2020

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. If you wish to purchase a seal through the NNA, you can contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 and they can assist you.

Jeffrey Meyers

06 Sep 2020

Wow I have been a notary for awhile now in Ohio, I will be contacting my state representative in this price gouging enterprise

Deborah A Phillips

09 Sep 2020

I have application done and have completed Background check How do I upload application and background check This is a renewal

National Notary Association

10 Sep 2020

Hello. You will need to go to https://notary.ohiosos.gov/ and select "Renewal Application" from the menu, then select "File Online." You can then select "User Guide" if you need additional instructions.

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