Frequently Asked Questions About Notaries
Notary Commission, Online Authorizations and Renewals
Pursuant to ORC 147.01, a person must not have been convicted of, pleaded guilty or no contest to a disqualifying offense. A disqualifying offense is defined as a crime of moral turpitude as defined in ORC 4776.10 and violation of Chapter 2913. Some disqualifying offenses in ORC 2913 are misdemeanors.
No, Ohio law does not require an applicant to be a registered voter to obtain a notary commission.
No, Ohio law requires a notary public to be a resident of this state. However, an attorney residing outside of Ohio may be commissioned in Ohio so long as the attorney is active and in good standing with the Ohio Supreme Court and maintains a principal place of business is in Ohio.
No, a notary commissioned in Ohio may only notarize documents in Ohio.
A non-attorney notary applicant must be a resident of Ohio to be commissioned as a notary public. Any individual with an abode in Ohio is presumed to be a resident. The abode can be either owned or rented. Temporary absence from your Ohio abode, no matter how long, does not change your residency status. Thus, if you live in Ohio, the presumption is that you are an Ohio resident. There is no requirement that an applicant be a resident for a certain time period prior to being commissioned as a notary public, the only requirement is that the applicant is a resident at the time the application is submitted.
Yes, an attorney may be an active notary public after retirement from the practice of law. An attorney-notary commission will only be cancelled or suspended if the attorney is disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.
The seal must consist of the coat of arms of the state within a circle that is at least ¾ inches, but not larger than 1 inch and surrounded by the words “notary public,” “notary seal” or words to that effect, the name of the notary public and the words “State of Ohio.” The name of the notary public can be printed, typed or stamped near the signature. The commission number and commission dates are not required.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office does not sell or provide notary supplies and does not endorse private companies. Notary supplies may be purchased from vendors selling a product that complies with the requirements under Ohio law.
A signing agent is a notary public who is specially trained to handle and notarize loan documents. The Secretary of State’s office is only responsible for commissioning a notary public, and does not train or certify a notary public as a signing agent nor do we endorse another provider for training.
Notarial Act Procedures
- Require personal appearance
- Review the document
- Identify the Signer
- Assess the mental capacity of the signer
- Give an oath/affirmation, if required
- Complete the notarial certificate
- Record the act in the journal, although not required by law it is a good practice to record the details of the notarization
- Notary must be physically located in Ohio
- Use an online notarization system which complies with Ohio law
- Identify the signer by methods described in Ohio Administrative Code Rule 111:6-10
- Assess the mental capacity of the signer
- Review the document
- Give an oath/affirmation, if required
- Complete the electronic notarial certificate
- Record the act in the electronic journal
- A jurat is used when the signer is swearing to the content of the document. The notary public must administer an oath or affirmation. The jurat requires the principal to sign in the presence of the notary public. The wording typically states “subscribed and sworn to before me.” Jurats are often performed on affidavits and depositions.
- An acknowledgment is used to verify the identity of the signer and to confirm they signed the document. They are not swearing to the validity of the document, merely that they signed the document. Acknowledgments are often required on recordable documents such as loan agreements, deeds and powers of attorney.
Yes. ORC Section 147.53 requires the notary public to have satisfactory evidence as to the signer’s identity. The notary public must determine if the evidence provided is satisfactory to make a proper identification. Generally, this means a U.S. government-issued photo identification such as a valid state driver’s license or passport. If a signer does not have identification, best practices suggest two other options: (1) personal knowledge of the signer’s identity; or (2) a credible witness – personally known to both the signer and the notary public to provide the identification verification through personal knowledge.
Yes, but these are not the preferred methods of identification. Best practices suggest you should use personal knowledge, a U.S. Government issued identification, or a credible witness to identify a signer, but without those options, other identification may be considered. The notary public must determine if the documentation provided is sufficient.
Yes, you may use an ink stamp or embossing seal, which meets the standards as described in the law. The words as required may be included with the stamp or typed/written on the document.
No, only the seller must appear before the notary public. The seller must complete the “assignment of ownership” portion on the back of the title including purchase price, buyer’s name/address, date of transfer and current mileage. The notary public must verify that all fields are properly completed, witness the seller’s signature and notarize the document.
In Ohio the law does not require a POA to be notarized, however, some third parties will only accept the document if the principal’s signature has been notarized. In addition to a notarization of the principal’s signature, two disinterested parties should witness it. In this case, the notary public should not also be signing as a witness.
Generally, this is not recommended. Witnessing a document may require you to sign the document, which could create a conflict of interest if you are asked to notarize other signatures on the same document. You may act as a document witness, but this is not a notarial act.
ORC 147.59 permits a designated alternative signer permitting someone to sign on the principal’s behalf if the principal clearly communicates to the notary public the intent for the designated signer to sign the individual's name on the document. Both the principal and designated signer must be satisfactorily identified by the notary public; the designated signer signs in the presence of the notary public; the designated signer is not named in the document; the notarial certificate provided to the principal gives the name of the designated signer and states that the document was signed under direction of the principal.
No, pursuant to ORC 147.141 you may not notarize your own signature.
Yes, you may as long as you have no conflict of interest with the underlying transaction. A conflict of interest means a direct financial or other interest in the transaction – a conflict is likely to exist with estate planning, real estate, medical or financial transactions.
No, ORC 147.141 states a notary public may not certify that a document is an original document or a true copy of another record. A principal can sign a statement certifying a document and the signature can be notarized.
Yes, the notary public may have prepared notarial certificates available at the time of the notarial act. The notary public should have notarial certificates prepared for an acknowledgement and jurat in case the signer’s document does not contain a proper notarial certificate. The notary public must attach the completed certificate to the document.
Yes, Ohio law requires a notary to administer an oath or affirmation for affidavits or documents containing sworn statements such as “John Doe, upon oath,” or “Being duly sworn.” An oath is a solemn, spoken pledge to God or a Supreme Being, and an individual may not want to take an oath, however, an affirmation is a spoken pledge made on the signer’s personal honor with no reference to a higher power. An oath or affirmation is required for an affidavit. Failure to give an oath or affirmation will result in the revocation of the notary commission.
No, an oath or affirmation is not required when taking an acknowledgement.
If it is an acknowledgment, then yes, you may notarize it, but you may not notarize an affidavit that has already been signed as that requires an oath or affirmation and the affidavit must be signed in the presence of the notary public.
No, Ohio law requires someone to obtain a ministers license to officiate a wedding in Ohio. A notary commission is not sufficient for this purpose.
Ohio law does not prohibit you from notarizing the signature of a minor. All elements must be met to perform the act as if it were an adult signing, for example, the minor must be properly identified, the minor should understand what they are signing and be able to sign the document.
The document is properly notarized if the notary public’s commission was valid at the time the document was signed, even if the commission has since expired. A notary public must not perform any notarial act knowing that the notary public’s term of office has expired and if they do perform an act after the expiration of the term then they may be subject to legal action and found ineligible for reappointment.
However, pursuant to ORC 147.12, if a notary, acting in good faith, following proper procedures, performs a notarial act after the expiration of the term, the act may be considered valid. This does not prevent a document from being rejected for being notarized by an expired notary public.
No, a notary public may not notarize copies of vital records such as birth, marriage or death certificates. These documents are certified by the registrar/clerk with the authority to issue the record. There is no notarial certificate to be completed or signature to notarize. If an individual wants a notarization on a vital record, the option is to notarize an affidavit from the principal stating the record is a true and accurate copy of the record. The notary public must give the principal an oath/affirmation and follow the procedure for notarizing an affidavit. However, it is possible that the entity receiving the record will reject the affidavit and copy.
Yes, the employer may direct an employee notary public’s activities within the scope of their employment, however, an employer may not restrict or control the employee notary public’s activities outside the work place/outside business hours.
Identity proofing is the means by which the principal (signer) of a document affirms their identity in an online notarization. This is done through a third party who uses dynamic knowledge based authentication (KBA). KBA is the process in which the principal is asked a series of questions about the principal’s identity and personal history. In order to pass, the principal must answer at least 80% of the questions correctly. If the individual fails their first attempt they may retake the quiz two times within 48 hours. If the principal fails the second attempt, then he or she is not permitted to retry with the same notary or the same third party providing the identity proofing service within 24 hours.
Credential analysis is the process by which the principal’s government-issued identification card is validated. The process requires a third party to use technology to confirm the security features on an ID and confirm the ID is not fraudulent. The third party also uses information available from the issuing source or other authoritative source to confirm the details on the credential.
No, a person looking for a third party provider for online notarization systems must look for a provider who can provide evidence to the person that the provider’s system satisfies the requirements set forth in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 147 and the Ohio Administrative Code.
Reporting Crimes, Fraud or Violations of Notary Law
Report a theft to your local police department and to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
The notary public is responsible for maintaining and keeping control of their notary seal and journal. The employer may not keep these items even if they paid for them. The notary public must insist on taking these items when employment ends. If the employer refuses, then suggested steps would be sending a certified letter to the employer requesting the items attesting they are the sole property of the notary public; contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office or contact your local police department.
The Ohio Administrative Code states the fees, which may be charged by a notary public, and states they may not charge fees beyond what is listed in the rules. The law permits a notary to charge a reasonable travel fee, but it must be agreed upon by the notary public and the principal prior to the notarial act. If the principal does not agree to the fees prior to the notarial act, then the principal can find an alternative notary public to complete the act.
Please submit a complaint to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office which provides: (1) the name of the notary public; (2) an explanation of the reason for the complaint; (3) if known, the citation to each statutory provision which the notary public is alleged to have violated; (4) a copy of each document related to the matter; and (5) the name, phone number, address, email address and signature of the person submitting the complaint.