Login | November 26, 2020

Online notarization: How to get your document notarized from a distance

C. Allen Nichols
Law You Can Use

Published: August 7, 2020

Online notarization became legal in Ohio in September of 2019. The ability to manage a document online simplifies the entire process if you need a notarized signature – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any document you may need notarized can now be notarized online, with the help of a certified online notary and the technology necessary to connect to them.
Background on Online Notarization
When the Notary Public Modernization Act (SB263) took effect on Sept. 20, 2019, the process to become a notary changed and online notarization was allowed for the first time. The notary commission application process moved from local court systems to the Ohio Secretary of State, and new, uniform testing requirements and standard fees went into effect.
Online notaries must be commissioned as a “traditional” Ohio Notary Public, take two hours of online notary education approved by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and pass with a test score of 80 or better. Non-attorneys who want to become notaries also have to submit a criminal records check during this process.
You should also know that attorneys are not automatically traditional or online notaries. They also must complete training that is approved by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, though they do not need to pass a test to be certified.
In response to the Notary Public Modernization Act, Ohio Notary Services was formed by a partnership between the Ohio State Bar Association and five metropolitan bar associations, including Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo. Ohio Notary Services provides notary education and testing services for Ohio notaries public. Right now, using Ohio Notary Services is the only way to be certified as an online notary in Ohio. They can help you find an authorized online notary public if you email info@becomeanohionotary.com.
How Online Notarization Works
As opposed to traveling to a bank or office of a “traditional” notary, all you need for online notarization is an authorized online notary and access to the platform they use to notarize documents. Any document that can be notarized by a traditional notary public can be notarized by a certified online notary, like a deed, a mortgage or another contract.
Each online notary can pick what platform they use for online notarizations. Your notary should be able to talk you through the specifics of how it will work for you, but in every case, you will need technology to upload your document and audio/video (a webcam) to connect to the online notary.
When an online notary notarizes your document, they will provide you with a video recording of the entire process to prevent any questions or concerns. You can keep a digital-only record of the notarization by using secure cloud-based record-keeping technology.
Identity Proofing
Ohio’s requirements for “identity proofing,” meaning proving who you are before a notary public will notarize your document, are very detailed. Even on an online platform, you will need to be prepared to present the notary with proof of your identity that can be authenticated, like your driver’s license, passport or state identification card. You will also need to respond to questions for which only you should know the answer. These are multiple choice questions and could relate to things like past addresses or automobiles that have been registered in your name.
About the Author
Allen Nichols is the executive director of both the Akron Bar Association and of Ohio Notary Services. He is a retired Ohio public library director, a high school soccer referee and an alumnus of the University of Akron, Kent State University and Mississippi State University.
Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.


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