How to become a Pennsylvania Notary

Abbreviation: PA   |   2nd State   |   Statehood: December 12, 1787 |
How to become a Notary in Pennsylvania:
To become a notary in Pennsylvania, a notary applicant must meet all the following requirements:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  3. Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in this Commonwealth
  4. Be able to read and write English
  5. Not be disqualified from receiving a commission under Section 323 (relating to sanctions) of the Revised Uniform Law of Notarial Acts
 
Qualifications for becoming a Notary in Pennsylvania:
In order to become a Pennsylvania notary and receive a Pennsylvania notary public commission, a notary applicant must:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Complete a pre-approved, three-hour notary public course within six months preceding the application, including those notaries previously “grandfathered” by the Tritt v. Cortes court ruling.
  3. Submit evidence with the application for appointment or reappointment of passing the examination, a copy of the course completion certificate, and a $42 filing fee to the Department of State by mail or online. Click here to download the application form or submit an application online.
  4. Obtain a $10,000 Pennsylvania notary bond after receiving an approval notice from the Department of State that the commission certificate has been issued and sent to the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the notary maintains an office.
  5. Register the notary’s official signature with the prothonotary of the county where the notary’s office is located.
  6. Take the notary’s oath of office and record the bond, commission, and oath of office with the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the notary’s office is located within 45 days from the date of appointment.If these requirements are not met within the 45-day period, the notary public commission becomes null and void.
  7. File a copy of the Pennsylvania notary bond and oath of office with the Department of State within 90 days.
 
Can non-residents become a Notary in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Non-resident notary applicants may apply to receive a Pennsylvania notary public commission if they have a place of employment or practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Department of State may request from the applicant a written confirmation from the employer or practice that a notary commission is required for such employment or practice.
 
Is a Pennsylvania Notary Bond required to become a Notary in Pennsylvania?
Yes. A $10,000 Pennsylvania notary bond executed by an insurance company authorized to do business in Pennsylvania is required for new and renewing notaries public. Individual sureties are no longer permitted under the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts as of October 26, 2017.
 
Pennsylvania notary errors & omissions insurance:
Optional. A notary public is liable to any person for damages that result from his or her official misconduct. A commission to act as a notary public does not provide a notary public any immunity or benefit conferred by law of this Commonwealth on public officials or employees. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Pennsylvania notaries public insure themselves against claims of negligence through the purchase of a Pennsylvania notary errors and omissions insurance.
 
How much does it cost to become a Notary in Pennsylvania?
To become a Notary in Pennsylvania, an applicant must include a $42 filing fee when submitting his or her application for appointment or reappointment, plus the cost of the required official stamp, notary journal, bond, and the educational course and examination.
 
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania notary is commissioned for a term of four years from the date of appointment. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void by resignation, death, revocation, adjudication of incompetency, or when the notary public ceases to reside or work in this Commonwealth.
 
Notary’s Jurisdiction in Pennsylvania:
A Pennsylvania notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Likewise, a Pennsylvania notary public may not perform notarial acts outside this state.
 
Who Appoints Pennsylvania notaries public?
The Department of State Bureau of Commissions appoints Pennsylvania notaries public.

 

To contact the Department:


Department of State Bureau of Commissions
Elections and Legislation Division of Commissions
Legislation and Notaries
210 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
(717) 787-5280

 
How to renew your Pennsylvania notary commission:
A Pennsylvania notary must file an application for reappointment with the Department of State at least 60 days prior to the expiration of his or her current notary commission. All certificates for examination and education must be valid at the time of the notary’s application for reappointment is accepted by the Department of State.
 
Education & Testing requirements to become or renew your Pennsylvania notary commission:
All Pennsylvania notary applicants for both initial appointment and reappointment are required to complete at least three hours of approved notary education within the six months immediately preceding the application for appointment or reappointment, including those notaries previously “grandfathered” by the Tritt v. Cortes court ruling. All applicants who do not hold a current and unexpired notary public commission in Pennsylvania must pass an examination administered by the Department of State’s examination vendor, Pearson VUE. This includes applicants who have never held notary commissions and all applicants who previously held notary commissions but whose commissions have lapsed or expired at the time their application for reappointment was received by the Department of State.
 
Pennsylvania Notary Stamp & Notary Seal:
Pennsylvania notary laws require all notaries public to use an inked notary stamp when notarizing documents. The Revised Uniform Law of Notarial Acts provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on notary stamps.

Dimensions: A maximum height of 1"and a width of 3 1/2" with a plain border

 

Required Elements: The official stamp must contain in the following order

  • The words “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
  • The words “Notary Seal.”
  • The notary’s name as it appears on the commission of the notary public and the words “Notary Public.”
  • The name of the county in which the notary public maintains an office.
  • The date the notary public’s commission expires.
  • The notary commission number.

The seal must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated. A Pennsylvania notary who holds a commission on the effective date of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (October 26, 2017)may continue to use his or her seal until the expiration of that commission. A notary public may use an embosser to perform a notarial act, but only in conjunction with the use of an official stamp.The official stamp is the exclusive property of the notary public. When not in use, the notary stamp must be kept under lock and key only accessible to the notary.

 
Is a Notary Journal required in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Pennsylvania notary laws require all notaries public to record in chronological order all notarial acts performed in either a paper or electronic journal.A paper journal must be bound register with numbered pages. If the journal is maintained in an electronic format, it must be in a tamper-evident electronic format that meets the regulations of the Department of State. A Pennsylvania notary public may maintain a separate journal for tangible records and for electronic records. For Pennsylvania notary supplies, please contact the American Association of Notaries by calling (800) 721-2663 or visiting our website at www.usnotaries.com.
 
How much can a Pennsylvania notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Pennsylvania notary fees are set by the Department of State by regulation. The maximum allowable fees a Pennsylvania notary can charge for notarial acts are listed below

  • Taking acknowledgments: $5 and $2 for each additional name
  • Administering oath or affirmation: $5 (per individual taking oath or affirmation)
  • Taking verification on oath or affirmation: $5 (no matter how many signatures)
  • Witnessing or attesting a signature: $5 (per signature)
  • Certifying or attesting a copy or deposition: $5 (per certified copy)
  • Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument: $3(per page)
Note: Pursuant to the Department of State’s regulations of August 2016, a Pennsylvania notary: (1) must display a list of notarial fees in a visible are a in his or her place of business; (2) may charge a reasonable clerical or administrative fee for services related to a notarial act, such as copying, postage, travel and telephone calls; (3) who charges a clerical or administrative fee must inform the customer of the amount of each fee prior to performing the service; and (4) must provide an itemized receipt for all fees charged by the notary public.A notary public may not charge or receive a notarial fee in excess of the fee fixed by the Department of State.
 
What notarial acts can a Pennsylvania notary public perform?
Under the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, a Pennsylvania notary public is authorized to perform six notarial acts

  • Take an acknowledgment
  • Administer an oath and affirmation
  • Take a verification on oath or affirmation (includes an affidavit)
  • Witness or attest a signature
  • Certify or attest a copy or deposition
  • Note a protest of a negotiable instrument
Electronic Notarization:
A Pennsylvania notary public who wishes to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records must be authorized by the Department of State to act as an “electronic notary” or “e-notary” prior to performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records.An electronic notary must use an electronic notarization solution approved by the Department of State. All requirements of a notarial act performed with respect to a tangible record apply to an electronic record. Most importantly, the notary public and the individual for whom a notarial act is being performed must be able to see, hear, communicate with, and give identification documents to each other without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or facsimile machines. Personal appearance does not include: (1) appearance by video technology, even if the video is live or synchronous; and (2) appearance by audio technology. Click here for further information.
 
Address Change:
A Pennsylvania notary is required to notify the Department of State and the recorder of deeds of the county of appointment within five days of an address change. If the new office is in a different county, the notary’s signature must be registered with the prothonotary of the new county within 30 days. The notice of an address change may be filed with the Department of State’s online Change form system: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/NotaryServices/Pages/Update-Information-.aspx
 
Name Change:
A Pennsylvania notary is required to notify the Department of State and the Recorder of Deeds within 30 days when his or her legal name is changed.

 

Optional: A notary public may: (1) change his or her commission name to the new name after submitting the required application for reappointment and supporting documents with the Department of State; or, (2) continue to perform notarial acts under his or her current commission name until the commission expires.The notice of a name change may be filed with the Department of State’s online Change form system: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/NotaryServices/Pages/Update-Information-.aspx

 
Death/Resignation/Removal:
A Pennsylvania notary may resign his or her notary commission by notifying the Department of State and Recorder of Deeds in writing within 30 days. A notary public must deliver his or her journal to the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the notary last maintained an office within 30 days when: (1) the notary commission expires and the notary did not apply for reappointment; (2) the notary resigns his or her notary commission; or (3) the notary’s commission is revoked. A notary’s commission that has been suspended or revoked must deliver the stamping device to the Department of State within ten days after notice of the suspension or revocation.
 
Prohibited Acts:
These notary’s conducts provide a basis for disciplinary action

  • Preparing, drafting, selecting, or giving advice concerning legal documents
  • Performing acts that constitute the practice of law
  • Performing as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters
  • Representing a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, citizenship, or related matters
  • Charging a notarial fee in excess of the fees fixed by the Department of State
  • Engaging in false or deceptive advertising
  • Using the term “notario” or “notario publico”
  • Notarizing a document without the signer being present at the time of the notarial act
  • Permitting another person to use the notary’s commission and official stamp to notarize on his or her behalf
  • Notarizing a signature on a document when the signer was not identified by satisfactory evidence of identification
  • Notarizing a document that did not include a notarial certificate
  • Notarizing his or her own signature
  • Notarizing a document that the notary or his or her spouse have a direct and pecuniary interest in the transaction
  • Affixing his or her official notary signature to a notarial certificate when the notarial act was not performed
  • Notarizing a document that contains blank spaces
  • Refusing to provide notarial services on the basis of a customer’s race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, or marital status
  • Post-dating or pre-dating notarial acts
  • Altering a document after it has been notarized
  • Issuing to the order of any State agency or the Commonwealth a personal check without sufficient funds on deposit
  • Performing a notarial act in another state with the Pennsylvania notary public commission
  • Endorsing or promoting a product, service, contest, or other offering by using the notary public title or official stamp
  • Executing a notarial certificate that contains a statement known to the notary public to be false
  • Using the notary’s official stamp for a purpose other than to perform a notarial act
  •  
    Official Misconduct:
    A notary public, who commits official misconduct, may be subject to criminal liability, civil liability, disciplinary action, and other matters. The Department of State may impose an administrative penalty of up to $1,000 on a Pennsylvania notary public for each act or omission that constitutes a violation of this chapter. The Department of State will consider all offenses committed by a notary public in any courts or legal proceedings of the United States involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit, which may result in the revocation of the notary’s commission. A notary public must notify the Department of State within 30 days of any: (1) conviction or an offense involving fraud, dishonesty, or deceit of the disposition; (2) disciplinary action in the nature of a final order taken against the notary’s commission by the commissioning authority of another state; (3) finding against, or admission of liability by the notary in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceedings; (4) finding by the Pennsylvania Bar Association or the courts of Pennsylvania or the bar or courts of any other state; and (5) legal proceeding for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
    Laws and Regulations:
    Revised Uniform of Notarial Acts(RULONA) Effective October 26, 2017
    http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Resources/Pages/Laws-.aspx

     

    Regulations (Effective August 2016)
    http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Pages/Notary-Education-Course-Approval.aspx

     
    Notarial Certificates:
    Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.

    Revised: October 2017

    Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
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