Notary Public FAQs

If you don’t see answers to your questions below, please feel free to contact us.

What is a Notary Public?

A notary is a public officer appointed by the Ohio Secretary of State. Administering oaths, certifying affidavits, taking acknowledgment, taking depositions and recording notarial protests are among the official duties of a notary public.

An Acknowledgement is a formal declaration by a person executing a document, made to a Notary Public, that the person signing the document is doing so freely and voluntarily for the purpose set forth in the document.  Certain documents such as deeds, mortgages, liens, powers of attorneys, and certain other instruments, must be acknowledged in the presence of a Notary Public (notarized) to be legally sufficient.  However, certain documents are not required to be acknowledged or notarized, but are done so merely to insure their authenticity.

It cannot be emphasized enough that a notarial commission does not grant permission to practice law in the State of Ohio.  Should you have any specific questions as to what is or is not the “practice of law”, please consult your attorney.

What are the qualifications needed to become a Notary Public?

To become a notary for the State of Ohio, the applicant must be of good moral character and be over 18 years of age.

I have a document that I need notarized. How do I find a Notary Public?

Search the Ohio Secretary of State’s Online Directory.  Check with your local bank or lending institution where you have a checking or savings account. They will sometimes notarize a document for you free of charge.

Can I notarize a document for my husband/wife?

We would advise you NOT to do this. It may be the one area that gets you in trouble. A husband and wife’s personal and financial affairs are normally intertwined and one’s gain would be seen as gain for both.

I have a foreign document that needs notarized. Where can I go?

Contact the International Institute of Akron at 330.376.5106.

I need my birth certificate notarized. What can I do?

Contact the City Hall in the city in which you were born to find out how to receive a certified copy of your birth certificate.

Can someone come to a nursing home and notarize documents for the residents?

Yes. However, if the signer is physically or mentally disabled, some problems could arise. If they are physically disabled, the signer should be able to make an “X” or other symbol which can be notarized using the signature-by-mark procedure. If there is a question as to whether the signer has a mental disability, you may want to consult with an attorney.

How do I go about changing my name or address on my commission?

A notary public is responsible for notifying the Office of the Notary Commission of a change in his or her name or address.

Please contact:

Notary Commission
PO Box 1658
Columbus, OH 43216
Phone: 614-644-4559

Website: or obtain an Application for Amendment of Notary Public Information Form.

Is it necessary that a notary always administer the oath or affirmation before notarizing a document?

No, an oath is not required when taking an acknowledgement.

Can I notarize a document when the person refuses to take the oath, or “swear to God” because of religious reasons?

Yes, the person may take an affirmation.

If someone brings me a document to be notarized and it has already been signed, can I notarize it?

Yes, if it is an “Acknowledgement”.

No, if it is an “Affidavit”.

When a notary administers an oath or affirmation in connection with the execution of an affidavit, the affidavit must be signed in the presence of the notary.

What is the highest amount of money I can charge as a notary for any single signature I notarize?

Notary public fees are set by statute. Please consult the fee section of the Guidebook for Notaries Public.

When notarizing a document, must the signer personally appear before me in order for me to notarize it?

Yes, the signer must personally appear and show proper identification. It has been held that a notary public can be personally liable for money damages for failing to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of the person seeking to have a document notarized. Please consult the Civil Liability section of the Notary Guidebook.

Is my commission good only in Summit County?

A notary commission is good statewide, but must be recorded in your resident county.

After I have passed the test and received my commission certificate, where do I record it?

Summit County Residents:
Summit County Clerk of Courts
205 S. High Street, 1st Floor
Akron, OH 44308
Phone: 330.643.2219
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The filing fee is $6.00.  You may also mail in your commission certificate to the Clerk of Courts.

How long do I have before the application expires, and do I pay another fee?

Your commission expires every five years, at which time you will pay a $80.00 renewal fee.

Have a question you don’t see listed here?  Please Contact Us!