Notary Law Update
Jan M. Butler
Effective September 20, 2019, the Notary Law in Ohio will change significantly. The changes are a result of Senate Bill 263 and provide for more uniform criteria to become a notary and transfer sole responsibility to the Ohio Secretary of State. The following is a summary of the new Notary Law.
All applications for new notaries, as well renewals, will now be done through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. New notaries will no longer be required to apply in person at either their County Bar Association or the County Clerk’s Office. Further, you will not be required to record your notary commission with the Clerk of Courts in your county. The new application and renewal application will be available at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website when law goes into effect.
The following is a summary of the various requirements depending upon the type of notary commission held:
Current Attorneys with a Notary Commission
There are no changes to the Notary Law for current attorneys who are already notaries. Your notary commission will continue indefinitely and there are no requirements for education or testing.
Current Attorneys with No Notary Commission
If you are a currently a licensed attorney but are not a notary, and you apply to become a notary after September 20, 2019, you will need to take an educational course before you can be commissioned as a notary. Once you have taken the course, you can then apply to become a notary and the notary commission will last as long as the attorney is a resident of Ohio or maintains their principal place of business in Ohio.
New Non-Attorney Notaries
With the new law, all new non-attorney notaries will be subject to a criminal background check, be required to take a 3-hour educational class, pass a test, complete the application and pay the notary fee. The application process will be done electronically through the Secretary of State’s website.
The educational class and testing information will be available on the Secretary of State’s website once the new law goes into effect. There will be specific vendors who will hold the classes and conduct the test. The criminal background check will be from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) and can be done no more than 6 months before the submission of the application. The Secretary of State will provide each new applicant with the information about completing the BCII, as well as the fingerprint impression sheet.The commission term will remain at 5 years, which is the current law.
Renewal of Non-Attorney Notaries
Under the new law, all non-attorney notaries who are renewing their commission will now be subject to a criminal background check (BCII), as well as be required to take a 1-hour continuing education class, in addition to completing the renewal application and paying the renewal fee. A renewal application can be submitted beginning three months prior to the expiration date of the commission. The Secretary of State’s website will have all the information on how to complete and forward the background paperwork.
Fees to Become a Notary
The new law also establishes the new fees for notaries. The maximum fee to become a notary is $150 for new notaries, and the maximum fee for renewals is $60 plus the cost of the background check.
The new law provides for online notarization and the Secretary of State’s website contains all the requirements to be an online notary.
Fees a Notary Can Charge
The fees that a notary can charge were increased. The new fee is $5 per document that is notarized with the traditional notary wet stamp.