Notary Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the process for becoming a notary in Ohio?
Obtain a formal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) background check - The code to use when obtaining your background check is: 147.22. Please have the report sent directly to the applicant. These results will be one of the necessary components in completing and filing your application on the Secretary of State's website.
A non-attorney must file an Ohio criminal records check, no more than six months old, with an application for a new notary commission or when renewing a notary commission. A national/federal background check is not required but it is acceptable in lieu of a state records check. The Secretary of State’s Office must reject an application if the criminal records check lists a disqualifying offense or is older than six months.
To obtain an Ohio criminal records check report, an applicant must complete a form and complete a fingerprint impression sheet at an authorized agent of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Click here for a link to the authorized agents from the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Upon completion, the criminal records check report is sent directly to the applicant to be later uploaded to the Secretary of State’s online filing system.
Visit www.becomeanohionotary.com. - Within 6 months of completing your background check, you must successfully complete a 3-hour notary class and pass the test. Ohio Notary Services classes are available online (Online Education.) The fee for the class and test is $130.00 paid directly to Ohio Notary Services. Any change to notary class registration is subject to a $15.00 change fee.
Visit the Ohio Secretary of State's website and select File Online to submit your application - Apply to become an Ohio notary or online notary via the Ohio Secretary of State’s Notary website at www.sos.state.oh.us. A $15.00 application fee must be paid directly to the Secretary of State with a credit or debit card when the application is submitted. Once you pass the test, Ohio Notary Services will issue you a certificate, which you will need to upload to the Secretary of State’s website. The Secretary of State will process your completed application and, if approved, it will issue your commission directly to you after you have affirmed your compliance with the rules. Your commission will expire 5 years from the date is was issued and your commission information will be posted on a public searchable database on the Secretary of State’s website.
Return to www.becomeanohionotary.com to purchase your notary supplies. Free standard shipping on all notary bundles! (Use the code “FREE”)
Q. What are the Costs involved for the Education and Testing?
A. The costs to become a traditional notary are:
- Non-Attorney: $130.00
- Attorney: $75.00
- Renewal: $45.00
The costs to become a remote online notary are:
- Attorneys and Non-Attorneys: $250.00
- Renewals: $160.00
Q. What happens if I fail the test?
A. If you fail the test you can register, free of charge, to take the test again after a 30-day waiting period. Please note that your test must be successfully completed within 6 months of your BCI background check. Please note you may only take the exam two times before you have to register for the class again and pay an additional $130.00.
A. Refunds are not permitted. The Secretary of State's website is clear on this matter. Please be certain that you register for the correct type of class (traditional notary commission vs online notary authorization.)
Q. If I do not know my notary commission number, how can i find it?
A. Please visit the Secretary of State's website to search their notary database to locate your commission number.
Q. Is the education course optional or required and what is the fee?
A. The education course is mandatory and must be taken though an authorized testing provider. Ohio Notary Services is an authorized testing provider and offers all of the education in a convenient online notary class format. The fee for the education course is $130.00, which includes the 3-hour class with the test being administered immediately after the class. The certificate of completion will be provided immediately following the test.
Q. My commission has expired; do I need to retest and what are the requirements?
A. Yes. Under the Notary Modernization Act, once your commission has expired you are treated as a new applicant and must follow the new notary application process, including the BCI background check, completing the Secretary of State New Notary Application, and taking the 3-hour education course and test. There is no grace period.
Q. My commission expires this year; how soon can I begin the process to renew my commission?
A. Under the new law, you may begin the renewal process no sooner than 90 days before your commission expiration date.
Q. What is the process for renewing my notary commission in Ohio under the Notary Modernization Act?
A. To renew your commission, you must complete all the steps outlined below beginning 90 days before your commission expires:
1. Obtain a BCI background check – you can do this 6 months before your commission expires. The code to use when obtaining your background check is: 147.22.
2. Beginning 90 days before your commission expires, you must successfully complete a 1-hour notary education class. Ohio Notary Services classes are available online. To register for either option proceed through the Renew tab on this website. The fee for the class is $45.00.
3. Complete and submit a Renewal Application to the Secretary of State’s website www.sos.state.oh.us/notary/. A $15.00 application fee must be paid directly to the Secretary of State with a credit or debit card when the application is submitted.
4. Once you complete the 1-hour education, Ohio Notary Services will issue you a certificate, which you will need to upload to the Secretary of State’s website. The Secretary of State will process your completed application and, if approved, it will issue your commission directly to you after you have affirmed your compliance with the rules. Your commission will expire 5 years from the date is was issued and your commission information will be posted on a public searchable database on the Secretary of State’s website.
Q. I submitted my renewal application, how long does it take to process?
A. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing by the Ohio Secretary of State.
Q. Once I receive my commission certificate, do I need to have the certificate notarized?
A. No. Your certificate does not need to be certified.
Q. What if I am an attorney, how do I become a notary in Ohio under the Notary Modernization Act?
A. For an attorney to become a notary in Ohio you must complete all the steps outlined below:
1. Complete a 3-hour notary class through Ohio Notary Services, LLC. The class is available online through this website. To register for proceed through the Become A Notary tab. The fee for the class $75.00 paid directly to the Ohio Notary Services.
2. Complete and submit an Attorney Notary Application electronically to the Secretary of State’s office and evidence that you have successfully completed a 3-hour education course. A $15.00 application fee must be paid directly to the Secretary of State.
3. The Secretary of State will process your completed application and, if approved, it will issue your commission directly to you. Your commission will be issued for your lifetime, assuming no discipline or disqualifying offenses have been committed. Your commission information will be posted on a public searchable database on the Secretary of State’s website.
Q. Where is my commission valid?
A. Your commission is valid in Ohio.
Q. When notarizing a document, must an individual personally appear before me in order for me to notarize it?
A. As a traditional notary, yes, an individual must personally appear and show proper identification.
Q. Can I notarize a document when the person refuses to take the oath or “swear to God” because of religious reasons?
A. Yes, you may still notarize the document but you must ask the person to “affirm” that the facts stated are true to the best of his or her knowledge.
Q. What is the most money I can charge as a notary for a single signature I notarize?
A. Notary fees may not be calculated on a per-signature basis, but instead should be calculated per notarial act. A notary may charge up to $5.00 for any notarial act (acknowledgement or affidavit, etc.) that is not an online notarization. An online notary may charge up to $25.00 for any online notarizations.
Q. How do I go about changing my name or address since I received my commission?
A. Visit the Secretary of State’s website.
Q. How do I go about ordering a Notary stamp?
A. Ohio Notary Services, LLC has all the notary supplies you need. Click here to order your supplies.
Q. Do I have to keep a journal of all my notarial transactions?
A. Under the Notary Modernization Act, a journal is only required for Online Notaries. Traditional notaries are not required to keep a journal but is strongly recommended that you do.
Q. What is the process for becoming a New Online Notary in Ohio under the Notary Modernization Act?
A. Ohio Notary Services, LLC is the only approved provider of online notary public education and training. Online notarization become legal in Ohio in September 2019. The ability to have a document notarized online simplifies the entire process for notaries and clients alike. You must be commissioned as a "traditional" Ohio Notary Public or in the process of becoming one in order to be authorized as an Ohio Online Notary Public. The Secretary of State is NOT able to approve your application to be an Online Notary Public until you are also a "traditional"notary. There are many benefits that include the ability to:
- Provide a welcome service to clients who simply are not able to make it to an office.
- Maintain social distance.
- Be confident about the identity of the person seeking your services through advanced security safeguards required by law.
- “Go Green” with digital-only copies of the documents being notarized
- Offer clients a video recording of the entire notarization process
- State maximum fee of $25.00 per notarization.
Along with the above benefits, some considerations that need to be resolved before taking the leap.
- Research and secure a technology vendor that will meet your notarization needs. There are many vendors in the market place
- As Ohio’s online education and testing provider, Ohio Notary Services recommends the online platform provided by SIGNiX. See information about SIGNiX here.
- Don’t begin the education until you are certain you have the time to closely watch the educational video. The two-hour training video is required by statute and was approved by the Secretary of State’s office. Please pay close attention to the information provided and take notes. You may not be familiar with the changes covered under the new law.
- If you fail the exam, statute requires a 30-day waiting period before you can make a second attempt. ONS cannot waive the 30-day waiting period. There are no exceptions.
Q. What is the code needed by the BCI for the required Background check?
A. 147.22. Please have the report sent directly to the applicant.
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