Summary of Notary Law Changes
The Notary Public Modernization Act - Senate Bill 263, 132nd General Assembly
Effective Date: September 20, 2019
One of the main goals of this act was to ensure all notaries public are properly educated on notary laws and responsibilities. The law requires a new notary applicant to take a three-hour education class and pass a test to obtain a notary commission. An existing notary must take a one-hour class to renew an active commission. Non-attorney notary applicants must submit a BCI Criminal Records Check report with a new notary application and renewal application.
Some of the significant changes to consider:
- A notary public must submit a renewal application prior to the expiration date of the commission. If the commission expires without renewal, then the applicant must apply as a new notary.
- A notary public must report any disqualifying offenses to the Secretary of State. Disqualifying offenses are sexually oriented offenses, offenses of violence, theft/fraud offenses or any other felony that has a direct nexus to the role of notary public.
- All active notaries public may perform in person electronic notarial acts, but you must obtain additional authorization to perform a remote online notarization.
- A notary public may not take an acknowledgment in lieu of an oath or affirmation when an oath or affirmation is required.
- A notary public may charge a fee of $5.00 per act for any notarial act that is not an online notarization and $25.00 for an online notarial act. The fee is per notarial act, not per signature.
- The Ohio Secretary of State has the authority to investigate and discipline notaries public for failure to uphold the duties of their office.
Amendments to Notary Law - House Bill 567, 134th General Assembly
Effective Date: April 6, 2023
This law made the following amendments to notary law:
- Amends the definition of acknowledgment.
- An acknowledgment means a declaration by an individual before a notary public that the individual has signed a record for the purpose stated in the record, and if the record is signed in a representative capacity, that the individual signed the record with proper authority and signed it as the act of the individual or entity identified in the record.
- It is important for a notary public to understand all requirements set forth in Chapter 147 related to notarial acts. Additional code sections should be referenced to understand prohibitions such as not performing a notarial act if it appears the person is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the document at the time of notarization. Further, section 147.53 states how to take an acknowledgment and section 147.54 provides information regarding the language required in an acknowledgment notarial certificate.
- States a peace officer does not need to submit a criminal records report (BCI Report) when applying for a notary commission.
- A peace officer must upload their Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) Certificate in lieu of the BCI report when submitting a notary commission application and renewal application.
- Removes language from ORC 147.542 stating an acknowledgment certificate shall state no oath or affirmation was given.
- Adds a statutory short form of acknowledgment for a limited liability company.
- Corrects error with language for the jurat certificate to require the name of the signer instead of their signature.
- Removes notary requirements for a variety of motor vehicle title documents when a licensed motor vehicle dealer is a party to the transfer of that motor vehicle.
- Removes the requirement that a power of attorney be notarized when a person grants that POA to a licensed motor vehicle dealer or the dealer’s agent for the transfer of motor vehicle title.
The Occupational License Reciprocity Act - Senate Bill 131, 134th General Assembly
Effective date: December 29, 2023
The license reciprocity act requires a state licensing authority to issue a license or government certification to an applicant who holds an out-of-state occupational license. This will permit an individual who is commissioned as a notary public in another jurisdiction to be commissioned in Ohio. Ohio law only permits a notary public to perform a notarial act while physically located in Ohio. This requirement includes out-of-state notaries public as well as a notary public authorized to perform online notarizations. Therefore, this law will not permit someone to perform an Ohio notarial act while physically located in another state even if the notary public is using an online notarization system.
Who is qualified?
A notary public, commissioned in another jurisdiction, may apply to be commissioned in Ohio if the following qualifications are met:
- The applicant must have had their commission in another jurisdiction for at least one year.
- Applicant must be in good standing in all jurisdictions in which the applicant holds a commission.
- Applicant must have satisfied the minimum education, training, or experience requirements or passed an exam in the jurisdiction where they were commissioned.
- Applicant must not have surrendered or had revoked a license, out-of-state occupational license, or government certification because of negligence or intentional misconduct related to the applicant’s work as a notary public.
- Applicant must not have any disqualifying offenses.
- Applicant must pass the Ohio exam, which is a part of the new notary education program.
What is the application process?
If a notary public, in good standing in another jurisdiction, intends to be physically located in Ohio to perform notarial acts, then the notary public may proceed to an authorized education provider to purchase the new notary education program. The notary public must pass the exam and obtain a certificate to indicate a passing score.
Then, the applicant may submit a New Notary Commission Application at https://notary.ohiosos.gov/. The applicant must upload the following:
- An image of their signature
- A criminal record report
- Information on how to obtain a criminal record report can be found here: https://www.ohiosos.gov/notary/criminal-records-check/ including information on how to get a report if the applicant is not in Ohio.
- In lieu of “Proof of Education” the applicant must upload evidence to show: (1) they are in good standing in all jurisdictions where they hold a notary commission; (2) they have had their commission for at least one year; (3) Evidence that the applicant satisfied the minimum education, training, testing or experience requirements to receive the notary commission in all other jurisdictions; and (4) a statement that the applicant has not surrendered or had revoked a license, out-of-state occupational license, or government certification because of negligence or intentional misconduct related to the applicant’s work as a notary public.
- Proof of Completion of Test from an authorized education provider.
- Information on authorized education providers can be found here: https://www.ohiosos.gov/notary/education-and-testing/
A notary public who holds an authorization to perform online notarizations in another state may be authorized to perform online notarizations by following the process above to become a commissioned notary public in Ohio and then passing the online authorization exam which his part of the online authorization education program and submitting an application, and filing fee. An Ohio notary public may only perform notarial acts, including remote online notarial acts, when the notary public is physically located in Ohio.