Ohio’s New Notary Law Definitely Worth Noting

By: Stephen D. Richman, Esq., Senior Counsel-Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz
Effective last Friday, September 20, 2019, a new law (Ohio Senate Bill 263, the Notary Public Modernization Act) went into effect which makes significant changes for Ohio Notaries Public and those who wish to become Notaries. While some may not assign preeminent importance to “notary law”, the Ohio State Bar Association adds notable perspective by stating, “the bill ensures consistent standards across the state and provides for the training and support they need to confidently and accurately witness and authenticate all the affidavits and oaths, property titles, grants, deeds, contracts, adoptions, advanced directives and powers of attorney — the documents, which represent the most important transactions in our lives and for our economy.”  
Key provisions of SB 263 include the following changes to Ohio Notary law:
1.      Who is in Charge? The Ohio Secretary of State’s office is now in charge and the place to go for anyone applying for a new Notary commission or seeking to renew their commission. Previously, Ohio’s county courts of common pleas governed the process. 
2.      Non-attorney applicants for new Ohio Notary commissions will be required to obtain a criminal records check, complete a three hour education program and take/pass a test. Those seeking to renew will need a new (not more than six months old) criminal records check and need to complete a one hour “refresher” educational program.

3.      New attorney applicants will be required to complete a three hour training program, but will not be required to obtain a criminal records check or take a test.

4.       New Fees. Ohio Notaries may now charge up to: (i) $5 for an in-person, paper notarization; (ii) $10 for electronic notarizations that are not performed online; and (iii) $25 for a remote, online notarization.

5.      “New” Forms/Rules.

a)      Jurats. (where one swears to or affirms the truthfulness of the contents of a document). For jurats, the new law includes a new statutory jurat form; or, you can still draft your own, provided, however that it clearly states that an oath or affirmation was administered.

b)      Acknowledgements. (verify the identity of the signer and confirm that the signer signed a document). For acknowledgements, you can use the “statutory short forms of acknowledgment” in the existing statute, or, you can create your own, but the new law requires that the acknowledgement: 1) contain the words “acknowledged before me” or their substantial equivalent; and 2) clearly state that an oath or affirmation was not administered.

6.      Online Notaries. Anyone who is a commissioned Ohio Notary may apply to be an online Notary. To become authorized you must: 1) Successfully complete a two hour education program; 2) pass a test; 3) pay an authorized provider a fee of $250; and 4) submit an application to the Secretary of State and pay an application fee of $20.

The Ohio Society of Notaries (http://ohionotaries.org/) has been approved by the Secretary of State as an Authorized Provider of Training & Testing under the new law. To find out more about their training offerings, or to get answers to your questions about notary procedures, signing situations, or best practices; you can call their free helplines at (614) 336-7878, (614) 348-3305, or Email them.

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