June 16, 2019
New Ohio Law Changes Process for Becoming a Notary Public
Legislation was passed in 2018 changing how to become a Notary Public in Ohio. The Secretary of State’s Office is currently developing rules and systems to implement the new law which will go into effect Sept. 20, 2019.
Previously, each county processed notary applications differently. The new law strives to streamline the process and create statewide consistency.
In Franklin County, not much will be changing. The Columbus Bar Association has been processing notary applications for over 60 years. We have set the standard for best practices, requiring that applicants obtain a background check and pass a test before becoming a notary. We’ve also offered a prep class for the test, though it was not mandatory.
Under the new law, all non-lawyer notary applicants will be required to take a class, pass a test and obtain a BCI criminal background check before being granted a commission from the Secretary of State. Those who will be renewing their notary commissions after Sept. 20 will also have a continuing education requirement as well as a BCI criminal background check every five years.
Lawyer applicants will continue to have a lifetime commission, assuming they remain in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio. Attorneys will not be required to obtain a background check, but they will be required to take a class before obtaining their notary commission. The new law does not impose any additional requirements on lawyers who are currently notaries.
If you have been considering becoming a Notary Public, it would be wise to begin the application process prior to the new rules going into effect. It is likely that the costs to become a notary will increase, with the added expense of a background check. Attorneys may want to avoid the educational requirement of the new law by obtaining your notary commission before the law's implementation.
If you are already a Notary Public, but your commission is expiring soon, you may be eligible to renew your application within 90 days of the expiration of your current commission. However, at the time of this publication, you may well be renewing under the new rules.
One additional feature of the Notary Modernization Law is that Ohio will soon join other states in allowing for online notarization. Becoming authorized to notarize online transactions will require additional education, testing and compliance with technology standards. You must first obtain a traditional notary commission before applying to become an online notary.
The rules implementing the new law were still under review at the time of this publication. Should you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact the Columbus Bar Association. We’ll make it as easy as possible for you to obtain the education and testing you need to comply.
You can learn more about the process to become a notary at www.cbalaw.org/notary.