How to Become a Notary in Ohio
The Ohio Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming an Ohio notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Ohio notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Ohio appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Ohio is a straightforward process, and as long as you satisfy the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become an Ohio notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become an Ohio notary
- The process to become an Ohio notary
- Basic Ohio notary duties
What are the qualifications to become an Ohio notary?
To become an Ohio notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be a resident of Ohio, or a nonresident attorney who is licensed to practice law in Ohio by the Ohio Supreme Court with a principal place of business or primary practice in Ohio.
What is the process to become an Ohio notary?
In order to become an Ohio notary and receive an Ohio notary commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Complete a three-hour class, pass a test administered by the entities authorized by the Secretary of State, and obtain a criminal records check report within the preceding six month demonstrating that the applicant has not been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a disqualifying offense, or any offense under an existing or former law of this state, any other state, or the United States that is substantially equivalent to such disqualifying offense.
- Complete an online application at the Secretary of State’s website. You will be asked to upload a copy of the criminal record check report, educational program certificate, and test passing score from a provider, as well as an image of your signature. (Attachments must be uploaded as PDFs.)
- Submit a $15 fee to process the application.
Attorney applicants licensed to practice law in Ohio seeking an Ohio notary commission are:
- Exempt from having to submit a criminal record check report with their applications;
- Exempt from taking the test; and
- Required to complete the educational program legal requirement.
Note: The Secretary of State will not accept a notary application that includes a criminal record check report that is more than six months old. The Secretary of State is required to provide each non-attorney applying for a notary public commission with information about accessing, completing, and forwarding the form and standard fingerprint impression sheet to the Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII).
Can a non-resident become a notary in Ohio?
Yes. A nonresident attorney who is licensed to practice law in Ohio by the Ohio Supreme Court with a principal place of business or primary practice in Ohio may apply for an Ohio notary public commission. Attorney applicants seeking a notary public commission are: (1) exempt from having to submit a criminal record check report with their notary applications; (2) exempt from taking the required test; and (3) required to complete the educational program requirement.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Ohio?
To become a notary public in Ohio, a notary applicant’s expenses may include the following: (1) a $15 filing fee to process the notary online application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a fee paid to the entity administering the educational program and related test; (3) a notary stamp; (4) a notary journal if the notary wishes to record every notarial act performed; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal legal and financial protection.
How do I renew my Ohio notary commission?
Ohio notaries may submit their renewal applications within the three-month period prior to their commission expiration dates. An attorney’s notary commission lasts as long as the attorney is an Ohio resident or maintains a principal place of business or primary practice in Ohio, remains in good standing with the Ohio Supreme Court, and the commission is not revoked. Click here to complete the application and upload the certificate of completion for the education requirement.
An Ohio non-attorney notary public whose commission expires after September 20, 2019 can renew his or her commission by:
- Obtaining a new criminal record check report that is current within six months of the renewal application;
- Contacting an authorized education and testing provider for a one-hour class;
- Submitting an online renewal application at the Secretary of State website, uploading a copy of the criminal record check and a certificate from the education provider to show successful completion of the class; and
- Paying a fee of $15.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become an Ohio notary public or to renew my Ohio notary public commission?
All first-time notary applicants submitting an online notary application on or after September 20, 2019 are required to complete a three-hour educational program and pass a related test demonstrating knowledge of the notary statutes, rules, what constitutes a legal notarial act, and other relevant notarial issues.
All renewing notaries are required to complete a one-hour continuing education class prior to submitting their online renewal applications.
The Secretary of State does not provide training on how to be a notary public in Ohio. An attorneys licensed to practice in Ohio and in good standing with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to be appointed as a notary public is exempt from the examination requirement. However, attorneys are required to complete an educational program to become Ohio notaries public. Click here to contact an authorized education and testing provider.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Ohio?
Yes. Since September 29, 2017, the State of Ohio has authorized notaries public to obtain an electronic signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic documents in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization.
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Ohio?
Yes. The State of Ohio enacted the “Notary Public Modernization Act” (“Act”), effective September 20, 2019. The new law allows the Secretary of State to issue notary commissions to Ohio notaries to perform online notarizations using live video links, electronic signatures, and electronic notary seals.
To be commissioned to perform online notarizations, a notary must:
- Complete a two-hour class through an authorized online notary education and testing provider and pass a test;
- Determine the type of technology to be used to perform online notarizations;
- Apply online at the Secretary of State’s website;
- Upload the certificates of completion for the education and testing requirement; and
- Submit the $20 filing fee to process the authorization.
Upon approval, the Secretary of State issues a written authorization to the notary approving him or her to perform online notarizations. The authorization runs concurrently with the underlying notary public commission and can be renewed along with the underlying commission, unless the notary is also an attorney.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Ohio?
Each notary public, except an attorney admitted to the practice of law by the Ohio Supreme Court, shall hold office for the term of five years unless the notary public commission is revoked. An attorney admitted to the practice of law in Ohio shall hold office as a notary public as long as the attorney is a resident of Ohio or has the attorney's principal place of business or primary practice in Ohio, the attorney is in good standing before the Ohio Supreme Court, and the notary commission is not revoked. A notary public appointed prior to September 20, 2019 shall remain valid until that commission’s expiration date.
Is an Ohio notary bond required to become a notary in Ohio?
No. All new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries are not statutorily required to purchase a notary bond to obtain their Ohio notary public commissions.
Do I need an Ohio notary errors and omission insurance?
A notary errors and omissions insurance policy is optional. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Ohio notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omission insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial damages to the public or a document signer. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage an Ohio notary public selects.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Ohio?
Ohio notaries public have statewide jurisdiction, and they must be physically within the geographic borders of the State of Ohio.Likewise, an Ohio notary public may not perform notarial acts outside Ohio.
Who appoints Ohio notaries public?
The Secretary of State processes notary applications, issues notary commissions, maintains the online database of notaries, approves the entities to administer the educational program and related test, and maintains all the records regarding notaries. The new notary law removed the responsibilities of notary application processing and notary commissioning from the common pleas court clerks. To contact the Ohio Secretary of State, use the following information:
Ohio Secretary of State
180 E. Broad St., 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Ohio?
Yes. Ohio notary law requires all Ohio notaries public to use a rubber-inked stamp or embosser to authenticate all official acts (ORC §147.04). Section 147.04 provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all notary stamps.
Dimensions: The seal shall consist of the state’s coat of arms in a circle having a diameter between three-quarters of an inch to one inch, surrounded by the required text.
Required Elements: The official stamp must contain the following elements:
- The words “notary public” or “notarial seal” or words to that effect;
- The name of the notary public; and
- The words “State of Ohio.”
Note: 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's signature on each document signed by the notary public. A notary commissioned before September 20, 2019, may continue to use a seal that was in the notary’s possession before that date.
Is a notary journal required in Ohio?
No. The Ohio notary statute does not require Ohio notaries public to record the notarial acts they perform in a journal. However, online notaries are required to maintain an electronic journal of all online notarizations performed. While a physical journal is not required by state notary law, the American Association of Notaries recommends that Ohio notaries: (1) maintain a journal of their official notarial acts to assist in recalling past notarial acts, if needed, or if legally challenged; and (2) maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act as a protective measure against liability. For Ohio notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.
How much can an Ohio notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Ohio notary fees are set by statute (ORC §147.08). The maximum allowable fees that an Ohio notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $5.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $5.00
- Jurats- $5.00
- Attest documents - $5.00
Note: An online notary public may charge up to $25 for an online notarization. Section 147.08 prohibits notaries from calculating fees on a per signature basis. An Ohio notary may charge a reasonable travel fee, as agreed to by the notary and the principal prior to the notarial act. The Secretary of State may adopt rules to increase the maximum allowable notarial fees. A notary public who charges or receives a notarial fee greater than the amount prescribed by law may be removed and be ineligible for reappointment to the office of notary public.
What notarial acts can an Ohio notary public perform?
An Ohio notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (ORC §147.51):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Attest documents
How do I update my address for my Ohio notary commission?
Ohio notaries public are required to update their address information within thirty days after the address change by submitting the notice electronically to the Secretary of State. Under the new notary statute, all submissions to the Secretary of State for receiving and renewing notary commissions, updating name and address information, notifying the Secretary of State of certain criminal convictions, or resigning a notary public commission must be submitted electronically. All updates and changes to a notary public commission must be filed electronically with the Secretary of State.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Ohio?
Ohio notaries public who legally change their names during their commission terms must amend their notary public commissions within thirty days of a legal name change with the Secretary of State. A notary public also has the option to resign his or her notary commission by notifying the Secretary of State. All updates and changes to a notary public commission must be filed electronically with the Secretary of State.
Revised: August 2019
Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information on this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their states if they have legal questions about how to perform notarial acts.
Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.