Online notarization could be coming to Ohio

COLUMBUS — State Sens. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) have announced the unanimous Senate passage of the “Notary Public Modernization Act” which will take a number of steps to update and enhance the notary public system in Ohio. If signed into law, Ohioans will also be able to get their documents notarized by connecting with a commissioned Ohio notary online, rather than face-to-face, utilizing live audio-video communications technology.

In addition to providing Ohioans with a new method for getting their documents notarized, the bill also provides for certain consumer protections to ensure the authenticity of electronic signatures and online notarial acts.

Other provisions of the bill would update and standardize Ohio’s antiquated system for commissioning notaries public by consolidating the process under the sole authority of the Secretary of State’s office. Ohio’s current commissioning process lacks consistency and efficiency due to a complex web of state and local involvement that varies county by county, resulting in 88 different processes by which a person can become a notary public.

Under the bill, all applications and fees would now be uniform across the state and sent directly to the Secretary of State’s office for processing. Applicants would also be required to submit a BCI background check, participate in an approved training course and pass an assessment.

Senate Bill 263 still has to be voted on in the Ohio House.

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