About OSN

Just about everyone needs a notary sometime. In today’s technology-driven and security-conscious world, an increasing number of companies and government agencies are requiring notarized signatures for their important documents to deter ID theft and other fraudulent acts. A significant number of the population, however, remains largely unaware of what a notarization entails, what a notary public is, or what powers they have on behalf of the state.

The 21st Century presents new and unique challenges for notaries that were unheard of only a decade ago. No longer is it sufficient for a notary public to merely “stamp & sign” a document. A notary that does not observe all the elements of a proper notarization potentially risks invalidating the document, perhaps committing a fraudulent act, and exposing themselves to liability and even a jail sentence. In today’s litigious arena, an error could be disastrous.

In addition to facilitating interaction and professionalism, the Ohio Society of Notaries will assist members with keeping up to date in an ever-changing, often confusing environment. A notarial act that seems very simple on the surface may, in fact, lead to significant repercussions if executed improperly or illegally. The vast majority of notary errors occur from a lack of awareness of the laws, and the standards of good notary practice. OSN will endeavor to keep notary education and practice standards at the forefront of our mission.

Since the 1950s each of Ohio’s 88 counties had its own application system and eligibility requirements. A background check, written examination, and notary training are fairly standard for a notary commission in many states; Ohio counties,though, had the discretion to require all three, one or two, or none at all. The result of this arcane system was 88 separate notary application/eligibility systems in Ohio, and few uniform requirements statewide. It was a sad fact that a school parent volunteer received more scrutiny than the notary public handling your $200,000 home mortgage, vehicle title, or power of attorney documents. 

This meant that, even though all notaries received the same commission from the Secretary of State, some had been background screened (perfunctory at best), passed an exam, and/or received some training, while others may have had none of these at all!  This inconsistency also allowed that, in some counties, lack of a background check could possibly allow a convicted felon to hold a notary commission, something that a number of states have banned. 

This all changed with the passage of the Ohio Notary Public Modernization Act, which became effective September 19, 2019. This landmark legislation brought the most sweeping reforms to Ohio notary laws in over 60 years. The new reform laws were conceived, written, and championed by OSN. We worked with several state agencies and notary-intensive industries, and were the driving force in getting the Bill through the Ohio legislature to the Governor's desk.

The new law eliminates counties and courts from the commissioning system, which is now centralized through the Secretary of State's office. Mandatory and uniform training, an improved background check (with fingerprints), clarification of duties and more notary accountability, and elimination of oudated laws all helped to provide today's Ohio notaries with better tools to protect the public trust.

Ohio citizens trust that the notary is competent and able to handle the circumstances of any given notarization request.  Sometimes though, situations can get rather complex, and demand particular knowledge of Ohio notary laws. Through legal and news updates, forum exchanges, and increased awareness, OSN will help members navigate through the increasingly complex areas of documents, procedures and scenarios, helping to anticipate and prevent problems while serving the public we are sworn to protect.

As noted, Ohio notaries have been largely on their own for decades, with few resources to assist. Until now, there has not been a viable statewide notary association to help with your notary practice, communicate with other Ohio notaries, learn the notary things that weren’t on the exam (assuming you even had one), speak for notaries at the Secretary of State and legislative levels, or instill a sense of pride, professionalism and excellence in performing your notary duties.

We offer assistance with any Ohio notary questions, day or evening 7 days a week. We can help with any signing situation, unusual document or best practice question. This is the ONLY such resource in the state.

We also provide our Ohio Notary Network forum, where Buckeye notaries statewide gather to discuss common concerns, questions, and experiences in the real notary world.

The Ohio Society of Notaries offers all this and more, for a very nominal annual dues amount. An investment in awareness and professionalism, with peer interaction that will improve your notary knowledge and perhaps prevent the making of a costly mistake in the future.

Please accept this invitation to join your fellow Ohio notaries in banding together for our common interests, and raising the bar for all of us to better serve the citizens of the Buckeye State.  Membership is open to any notary public commissioned in Ohio, as well as individuals and organizations that express a desire to assist in furthering the mission of OSN.

For more information, call OSN at (614) 336-7878 or click the Contact Us tab.