Notary Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers are for your general information only. They are not intended to cover all the material available in a Notarial Handbook.

Q. What is the process for becoming a notary in Franklin County?
A. You must complete and submit a New Notary Application with our office. Once we have received your application and payment, our office will email you the study materials and test schedule. The application fee is $80.00 which includes your materials and testing. Click here for the New Notary Application.

Q. I submitted my application, how soon can I test?
A. Once you have received the study materials and test schedule, you can test at our office located at 175 S. Third Street, Ste. 1100, Columbus, Ohio, every Wednesday beginning at 10:00 a.m. and one Saturday a month.

Q. Is the test open book? How many questions are on the test?
A. The test is 20 multiple choice questions. Four questions if missed are automatic fail and you will have to retest after a 30 day waiting period. Test results are given that day. You have 90 days to complete your testing requirements once you’ve received your study materials.

Q. Is the seminar optional or required and what is the fee?
A. The seminar is optional but a great source of information. 99.9% of applicants, who attend the seminar, also pass the test immediately after and retain the information longer. The fee for the seminar is $45.00. Click here for more information. Can't make the live seminar? We also offer an online version of the notary seminar.

Q. My commission has expired; do I need to retest and what are the requirements?
A. In Franklin County, residents can renew without retesting up to 5 years after your commission has expired. You must complete and submit a Renewal Application and we will begin processing it. Click here for the Renewal Application.

Q. I submitted my renewal application, how long does it take to process?
A. Due to the volume of applications received, please allow 4 to 6 weeks to process your application. Once you receive your certificate, you are required to record your commission. Click here for more information.

Q. Where do I record my commission?
A. When you receive your commission certificate in the mail, you MUST file (record) the commission and signature, or your commission is not valid and cannot be used. Click here for a list of locations at which you can record your commission.

Q. Is my notary commission, issued in Franklin County, good only in Franklin County?
A. As of 1977, your commission became statewide; however, you are required to apply for and renew your commission in your resident county.

Q. When notarizing a document, must an individual personally appear before me in order for me to notarize it?
A. Yes, they must personally appear and show proper identification. A court has held that the failure of a notary public to obtain some evidence of identification independent of a stranger’s representation is negligence as a matter of law.

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. A notary may charge for notarization of a signature a fee equal to that allowed by law to clerks of the courts of common please for like services, currently $1 for administering each oath. For affidavits, a notary may charge $1.50, effective January 2008, and $2.00 for each acknowledgement. These fees, however, are not cumulative.

Q. How do I go about changing my name or address since I received my commission?
A. You must submit a Change of Name/Address form to the Ohio Secretary of State. Click here for more information.

Q. How do I go about ordering a stamp?
A. The Columbus Bar Association has all the notary supplies you need, from stamps and embossers to nameplates and ink. Click here to order your notary supplies.

Q. What kind of insurance do I need to protect myself against liability?
A. Errors & Omissions insurance is always a good idea. Click here for more information.

Further information can be found on the Ohio Secretary of State Notary Commission website, including a searchable database of Ohio notaries.

Ohio's New Notary Law

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. Click here for details.