How to Become an Online Notary in Ohio

Jim Franks

April 18, 2021

Ohio doesn’t get enough credit. It is the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents,  the Wright brothers (you know, the guys who invented the airplane), and Thomas Edison! Fifty percent of the United States population lives within a 500-mile radius of the state capital. And Ohio was the 10th state to pass legislation allowing remote online notarization! 

Ok, so that last one might only be interesting to us. 

If you are a notary living in the Buckeye State, COVID-19 has probably caused a drop in in-person business. Moving your notary practice online can provide your regular customers a safe and convenient way to access your services.   Becoming an online notary will also give you access to an much larger customer base. 

Are you looking to increase your income? If you’re already considering becoming a traditional notary, completing your online notary certification will give you the opportunity to maximize your earnings.

In the following article, we’ll outline:

  • How to become a notary public in Ohio
  • Becoming an online notary in the Buckeye State
  • The advantages and opportunities of becoming a remote online notary

So “Hang on, Sloopy” (official state song of Ohio, last piece of trivia, I promise!) as we dive into the state of notaries and notarizations in Ohio!

The Hard Part: Getting Your Traditional Notary Public Commission

Just kidding. It’s not hard to get your notary public commission. But there are some government hoops that you need to jump through. If you are 18 years old and a resident of Ohio, you can receive a commission as a notary public. The entire process usually takes 4-6 weeks.

The Criminal Background Check

The first step is to get a criminal background check from a state-approved authorized agent. If you have a criminal history of theft, fraud, or sexual offenses, you aren’t eligible to become a notary in Ohio. If you have offenses in your past and aren’t sure, you can view a complete list of disqualifying offenses here.

It’s important you get your criminal background check in the 6-months before applying for your notary commission. Make sure you move on to the next step of the process as soon as you receive your background check results. If your background check is older than 6-months, you’ll have to pay for another one to apply for your commission.

Education and Exam

Assuming your criminal background check is clear, the next step is to complete a three-hour course and pass an exam. Ohio requires that these courses be taken through a state-approved educational agency. Unfortunately, this is where the costs begin to add up. A course costs around $130, possibly more, depending on the provider. 

Make sure you take the exam seriously! If you fail, you must wait 30 days before retaking it.

Apply

Once you’ve passed the test, you can apply for your notary commission. To do this, you have to create an account on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. Upload your certification and criminal background check information, pay your $15-dollar application fee, and submit your application.

You’re a Notary!

Then you will receive your notary commission by email. SAVE THIS EMAIL. It contains important instructions for completing your oath of office. It will also have other information and resources regarding your commission. 

Your commission lasts for five years, which is longer than many states. Also, Ohio does not require you to purchase a surety bond or errors and omission insurance, but it’s not a bad idea. For more info on surety bonds and E and O insurance, check out our LiveNotary blog post.

Finally, once you have your commission as a notary public, you are ready to become an online notary!

Getting Your Remote Online Notary Commission 

The good news is this: once you’ve got your traditional notary commission, it only takes a few more days for your online notary certification. 

The first step to becoming an online notary in Ohio is to take a course from a state-approved education provider. The class is online and you need to pass an exam. It takes about two hours and costs $250.

Once you’ve passed your test, it’s time to choose your online notary service. Ohio doesn’t have a list of approved providers, so you can shop around to find the price and services you need. Feel free to take a deeper dive into selecting your online notary provider here.

The requirements for the online notary service listed on the Ohio State website are:
  1. The persons communicating must simultaneously see and speak to one another.
  2. The signal transmission must be live, real-time.
  3. The signal transmission must be secure from interception or access by anyone other than the persons communicating.
  4. The technology must provide sufficient audio clarity and video resolution to enable the notary to communicate with the signer and utilize the permissible signer identification methods.
  5. The system must confirm that the electronic document presented is the same as the electronic document notarized.
  6. Allow for the affixation of the notarial certificate, signature, and seal.
  7. Allow for viewing the notarial certificate, signature, and seal.
  8. Provide a method for determining if the electronic document has been altered after the electronic notarial seal has been affixed, and the electronic notarial act has been completed.
  9. Provide a method of generating a paper copy of the document, including the notarial certificate, signature and seal, and any other document associated with the execution of the notarial act.

Don’t be scared of the legal language, most online notary services (including LiveNotary) meet these requirements. It’s kind of the point.

Becoming an Online Notary: Worth It.

So, in short, to become an online notary in Ohio:

  1. Get your commission as a traditional notary
  2. Take your Online Notary course
  3. Choose your Online Notary Service
  4. Complete your application on the Ohio secretary of state’s website

Let’s be honest. This process sounds like a lot of time and money – is it worth it? We say, “YES.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a big shift toward doing things online. Many companies have made changes to avoid person-to-person interactions. Online notaries provide a safe way for clients to complete their notarization needs without the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

If your business has struggled during the pandemic, becoming an online notary can allow you to make up for business loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There’s also professional benefits like convenience and flexibility. You can work from home as an online notary and choose your hours. 

It also makes financial sense. You don’t have the overhead of a brick-and-mortar business. You don’t have to store paper files or purchase office supplies. On the flip side, you have access to a much bigger client base from all over the country. Ohio law says that the online notary must be located in Ohio, but signers can be anywhere in the United States. With online notarization, your customer base isn’t limited to people within driving distance of your office!

If you want to have access to these safety, convenience, flexibility, and financial opportunities, becoming an online notary is definitely worth it! Want to know more? Check out our blog for resources and information about the exciting world of Online Notarization.

Contact LiveNotary today to get started with online notarization! 

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