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Notary Public FAQ

Notary Public 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 Ohio under the Notary Modernization Act?
A. To become a notary in Ohio you must complete the steps outlined here.

Q. Is the test open book? How many questions are on the test?
A. Yes. The test is 30 multiple choice questions. Test results are given that day. Four questions, if missed, are automatic fail and you will have to retest after a 30-day waiting period. Please note that your test must be successfully completed within 6 months of your BCI background check.

Q. Is an education course required for all notary applicants? What is the fee?
A. The education course is mandatory and must be taken through an authorized testing provider like the Columbus Bar Association. The fee for the education course is $130.00, which includes the 3-hour class, the test administered immediately after the class, as well as the course and test completion certificate. For more information and to register for the online or in-person course, visit our website

Q. I do not live in Franklin County, can the Columbus Bar Association still help me apply for or renew my Ohio notary commission?
A. Yes. Under the Notary Modernization Act, a commission can be applied for in any Ohio county. Accordingly, no matter where you are in the State of Ohio, the Columbus Bar Association can be your single point of contact for the entire process of becoming a traditional notary or renewing your traditional commission.

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 requirements, including the BCI background check, Secretary of State New Notary Application, and 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 Notary Modernization Act, you may submit the application to renew your commission no sooner than three (3) months prior to your commission expiration date. 

NOTE: You can take the class up to 12 months prior and submit your background check up to 6 months prior to submitting your application. 

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 the steps outlined here beginning 90 days prior to your expiration.

Q. Can I use a BCI background check that I recently had done for another purpose?
A. No, your BCI background check must be done specifically to become a notary. Reason: Applicant for notary; code: 147022 

Q. Do I have to have a BCI/background check if I am a peace officer?
A. A peace officer does not need a BCI report BUT the applicant must upload their OPOTA Certificate in lieu of the BCI report when submitting a notary commission application and renewal application. 

Q. I submitted my renewal application. How long does it take to process?
A. The Secretary of State processes applications within 1-2 business days. You will recieve your commission via email. 

Q. What if I have a commission in another jurisdiction? Am I automatically a notary in Ohio?
A. There is no automatic commission in Ohio. If you are commissioned in another jurisdiction you can become an Ohio notary if the following qualifications are met: 

  • You must have had your commission for at least one year
  • You must be in good standing in your orginal jurisdiction
  • You must have satisfied the minimum education, training or experience requirements or passed an exam in your original jurisdiction 
  • You must not have any disqualifying offenses as defined by Ohio law
  • You must take the Ohio exam

NOTE: Even if you recieve your Ohio commission, notarial acts can ONLY be performed if you are physically located in Ohio. 

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 the steps outlined here.

Q. Is my notary commission, if issued in one County, good only in that County?
A. No. Your commission is valid statewide.

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, 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.

If you have applied, successfully demonstrated the proper technology requirements, and beenauthorized as an online notary by the Secretary of State, an individual must appear before you through the simultaneous audio-visual technology upon which the Secretary of State granted your authorization and show proper identification through those means.

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. The Secretary of State may adopt rules to change the fees Notaries may charge in the future; any such changes will be updated on the Columbus Bar Association website as soon as they take effect.

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. There is a $2.00 fee for a name change. There is no fee for an address change. Check 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.

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, however keeping a journal is recommended so that details of transactions are memorialized.

Q. What is the process for becoming a New Online Notary in Ohio under the Notary Modernization Act?
A. Visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office for more information on becoming an online notary.

Q. What is the process for renewing my Online Notary commission in Ohio under the Notary Modernization Act?
A. Visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office for more information on renewing your online notary commission.

Q. As an Online Notary, do I have to keep a journal of all my online notarial transactions?
A. Yes. Under the Notary Modernization Act, an electronic journal is required for Online Notaries. Every online notarization performed must be recorded in an electronic journal with the following information:

  1. The date and time of the notarial act;
  2. The type of notarial act;
  3. The title or a description of the record being notarized, if any;
  4. The electronic signature of each principle;
  5. The printed full name and address of each principle;
  6. If identification of the principle is based on personal knowledge, a statement to that effect;
  7. If identification is based on other sufficient evidence, a description of the evidence relied upon for any identification presented, including date of issuance or expiration;
  8. If identification of the principal is based on a credible witness or witnesses, the name of the witness or witnesses;
  9. If the notarization was not performed at the online notary public's business address, the address where the notarization was performed;
  10. A description of the online notarization system used;
  11. The fee, if any, charged by the notary;
  12. The name of the jurisdiction in which the principal was located at the time of the online
  13. The recording upon which the identification of the principal is based;
  14. Any other information required by the secretary of state.

 Contact Us

If you would like to speak with our Notary Administrator, you may email, or call our office Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30am and 5:00pm at (614) 340-2031.


Contact Us

Columbus Bar Association
230 West Street, Suite 100
Columbus, OH 43215

Parking Information

Phone: (614) 221-4112
Fax: (614) 221-4850

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