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New Law Begins The Era of Online Notarization in Ohio

The practice of online notarization, also known as electronic notarization or e-notarization, has been permitted in Ohio in some capacity since 2017, and was the subject of a recent Ohio law that brought further reform. The law was signed in December 2018 and is scheduled to take effect on September 19, 2019.

Sometimes, circumstances arise that make coming to the office to have documents notarized impossible for the notary, the signer, or both. Online notarization allows for flexibility in the process of notarizing important documents for both the signer of the document and the notary. As long as the online notary is present in the state of Ohio, documents can be notarized remotely via live two-way audio-video communication coupled with electronic software that places the official notary seal and signature on the document. Additionally, any documents notarized online are considered original documents, and any notarial act except certifying a deposition can be performed as an online notarization.

You may find yourself having to leave the U.S. often for business or family affairs, making communication with an Ohio notary public difficult. Fortunately, under the new law, it is even possible to have your documents notarized by an Ohio online notary while abroad. The new law provides that as long as the act of online notarization is not known to be prohibited in the jurisdiction where the signer is physically present, online notarization can be performed remotely while that signer is outside of the U.S. The document being notarized must pertain to either a court or governmental entity in the U.S., real or personal property located within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or a transaction substantially connected with the U.S.

The Ohio Secretary of State, which is responsible for regulating the practice of online notarization in Ohio, is tasked with announcing further rules by September 19, 2019, the date the new law takes effect. These rules will clarify what kind of technology the notary will be permitted to use when notarizing your documents online, as well as implement measures to guarantee security throughout the process.

When time is of the essence and distance proves an obstacle, online notarization can be a helpful tool for document signers and notaries alike. Members of the Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP Family Wealth & Estate Planning Group are preparing to offer e-notarization services to clients by 2020.


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