Coming Soon in Ohio: Online Notarizations

December 20, 2018      |      Larry R. Rothenberg, Esq.   

The Ohio legislature has passed Sub. S.B. 263, the Notary Public Modernization Act, for the Governor's signature. The bill will allow a notary public to obtain an electronic seal and electronic signature, and allow document signers to appear before the notary by means of live two-way audio-video communication. Like in-person notarizations, if the notary knows the signer or has satisfactory evidence of the signer's identity (i.e., a government-issued ID with a signature and photograph), the notary will be allowed to apply his or her electronic signature to the document, after the signer signs and gives an oath or affirmation that the statement in the document is true and correct.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • A duly appointed and commissioned notary public, after completing an education course and related test and a criminal records check, must apply to the Secretary of State for authorization to perform notarizations online using live video links, electronic signatures, and electronic notary seals, and to obtain an electronic signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic documents

  • Requires a notary public seeking authorization to act as an online notary to complete an educational course and pass a test, in addition to those necessary to acquire an initial notary commission, but provides certain exceptions for attorneys 

  • Establishes five-year terms for online notary status, for both non-attorney and attorney notaries

  • Establishes continuing education requirements for online notaries

  • Requires the Secretary of State to adopt rules for online notarizations, including rules regarding approval to perform online notarizations, process and procedure for online notarial acts, required technology, record retention, online notarial certificates, and revocation of authorization to perform online notarizations 

  • Specifies that an electronic document notarized through an online notarization is considered an original document

  • County auditors, engineers, and recorders are required to accept printed documents that were notarized electronically - for purposes of approval, transfer, and recording, if the document contains the required notarial certificate 

  • Online notaries public can only perform online notarizations while physically present in Ohio, and must do the following:

    • Use technology that meets the Secretary of State's standards

    • Abide by minimum security requirements during the conduct of online notarizations, and in the storage of required information 

    • Maintain audio and video recordings of the process used to confirm identities during online notarizations during the term of their authorization to perform online notarizations

    • Maintain electronic journals with details of all online notarizations performed during the term of their authorization to perform online notarizations, and to deposit those journals with the Secretary of State or an approved repository on the expiration of the authorization 

In addition to enacting the Notary Public Modernization Act, Sub. S.B. 263, also creates the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System Utilization Study Committee, to make changes to the law regarding motor vehicle salvage data collection, and to revise Ohio law regarding oil and gas land professionals.

For additional information regarding the Notary Public Modernization Act, please contact Larry R. Rothenberg, Esq. Mr. Rothenberg is a Shareholder in the firm’s Real Estate Default Group who focuses on residential and commercial real estate, complex foreclosures, evictions, and title insurance issues. With more than 35 years of legal experience, Mr. Rothenberg has been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell as a leader in his field, and has been selected in multiple editions of Ohio Super Lawyers.