Home > Become a Notary > How to Become a Pennsylvania Notary

How to Become a Pennsylvania Notary


The Pennsylvania Notary Process:


Are you interested in becoming a Pennsylvania notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Pennsylvania notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Pennsylvania appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Pennsylvania is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Pennsylvania notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

 

This guide will help you understand:

 

  1. Who can become a Pennsylvania notary
  2. The process to become a Pennsylvania notary
  3. Basic Pennsylvania notarial duties

What are the qualifications to become a Pennsylvania notary?


To become a Pennsylvania notary public, a notary applicant must meet 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 Pennsylvania 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 57 Pa C.S. §323 (relating to character, criminal convictions, or prior sanctions).
  6. Have passed the examination required under Section 322a (relating to examination, basic education, and continuing education).
  7. Comply with other requirement established by the Department of State by regulation as necessary to ensure the competence, integrity, and qualifications of a notary public and to insure the proper performance of notarial acts.

 

Note: The following persons are NOT eligible to hold the office of notary public: (1) any member of the Congress of the United States, and any person, whether an officer, a subordinate officer, or agent holding any office or appointment of profit or trust under the legislative, executive, or judicial departments of the government of the United States, to which a salary, fees or perquisites are attached; or (2) any member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.

What is the process to become a Pennsylvania notary?


To become a Pennsylvania notary public 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 basic 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 for the initial appointment or reappointment process, apply online, or download an application form.
  4. Obtain a $10,000 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 will maintain an office.
  5. Register an official signature with the prothonotary of the county where the notary will maintain an office.
  6. Take and subscribe an oath of office and record the bond, commission, and oath of office with the recorder of deeds in the county where the notary will maintain an office within 45 days from the date of appointment. Once these requirements are met, the recorder of deeds will deliver the new commission to the notary. If these requirements are not met within the 45 day period, the notary public commission becomes null and void. (Extensions will not be given.)
  7. File a copy of the bond and oath of office with the Department of State within ninety days of the recording requirements (57 Pa C.S. §321[d.2][3]).

Can a non-resident become a notary in Pennsylvania?

Yes. A non-resident may apply to become a Pennsylvania notary public if the non-resident meets the following requirements (57 Pa C.S. §321a):  

 

  1. Has a place of employment or practice in Pennsylvania.
  2. Satisfies the same qualifications as Pennsylvania residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
  3. Follows the same process and procedures for the initial application for appointment as a notary public as Pennsylvania residents.
  4. Completes a three-hour-minimum, approved notary education course, which is required for all applicants applying for initial appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
  5. Passes an examination (for applicants who do not hold a current notary public commission).
  6. Continuously maintains a place of employment or practice in Pennsylvania.
  7. Relinquishes his or her notary commission if he or she ceases to have a place of employment or practice in Pennsylvania.

How much does it cost to become a notary in Pennsylvania?

A Pennsylvania notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following:

 

  1. A $42 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
  2. The cost of a $10,000 surety bond.
  3. The price of an official stamp.
  4. The cost of a notary journal.
  5. The fee for a mandatory notary public education course.
  6. A $65 fee for the mandatory examination for all initial appointments as notaries public.
  7. The cost of an E&O insurance policy if a notary public wishes to purchase one for his or her protection against liability.

How do I renew my Pennsylvania notary commission?

Pennsylvania notaries must file an application for reappointment with the Department of State at least two to three months prior to the expiration of their current notary public commissions to ensure uninterrupted commissioned status. Notaries applying for reappointment as notaries public must follow the same process and procedures as the initial application for appointment as a notary public. All certificates for the approved continuing education course and examination (if required) must be valid at the time of the submission of the application for reappointment. Renewal notaries should allow at least one month for processing after submitting a completed application for reappointment to the Department of State. An application for reappointment may be submitted to the Department of State either by mail or by applying online at https://www.notaryreg.pa.gov/Pages/Home.aspx.

Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Pennsylvania notary public or to renew my Pennsylvania notary public commission?

Yes. All new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public, including notaries reapplying for a subsequent commission, are required to complete a three-hour-minimum, approved notary education course within the six months immediately preceding the application for appointment or reappointment. This requirement applies to those notaries previously “grandfathered” under the Tritt v. Cortes court ruling.  There is no exemption to the mandatory notary education requirement even for those who were previously “grandfathered.”

 

An approved notary education course may be comprised of either interactive or classroom instruction and must contain a core curriculum covering the duties and responsibilities of the office of notary public and electronic notarization. The continuing education courses approved for notaries applying for reappointment are more advanced in content and are designed to be relevant for the notary public who has already completed the basic education course and has encountered more complicated documents and advanced notary issues in the course of a previous notary public commission. Please see Notary Education Providers for a list of approved notary public education course providers available on the Department of State’s website.

 

Exam: All applicants for appointment and commission who do not hold a current and unexpired notary public commission at the time the application is received by the Department of State must pass an examination administered by the Department’s examination vendor, Pearson VUE.  After the Department’s review and approval of their notary applications, applicants who are required to take the examination will be provided with information via email on Pearson VUE’s testing procedures and sites. The examination will be a computer-based test offered at Pearson VUE test centers in nearly all Pennsylvania counties. The cost of the examination is $65 per test. Notary applicants have six months from the time they are authorized to sit for the examination to successfully pass the test. They may take it as many times as needed within the six-month period. Examination results will be electronically reported to the Department by Pearson VUE. Applicants successfully completing the examination will be appointed as notaries public by the Department. Applicants who are unable to pass the examination within six months will be required to retake the basic education course and reapply for appointment and commission to the Department.

Can I perform electronic notarization in Pennsylvania?

Yes. The State of Pennsylvania has enacted the “Uniform Electronic Transactions Act,” which authorizes a notary public to obtain an electronic or digital signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic documents in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization. Moreover, the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (Title 57, Chapter 3, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes), effective October 26, 2017, provides fundamental provisions pertaining to the notarial acts with respect to electronic records. Moreover, the fundamental components of notarization, including personal appearance of the record signers before the notary public, still apply.

What is the process to become a Pennsylvania electronic notary public?

Before a notary public performs the initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, he or she must:

 

  1. Be a duly appointed and commissioned notary public in Pennsylvania.
  2. Complete the Electronic Notary Public Application and submit it to the Department of State.
  3. Verify that he or she has not had any finalized or pending criminal or disciplinary actions since being appointed and commissioned.
  4. Follow the instructions in the email sent by the Department of State upon approval authorizing the notary to participate in the Electronic Notarization Program until the end of the notary’s current four-year commission term as a traditional notary.
  5. Log onto the Department of State’s website to select an approved electronic notary solution provider(s) to obtain the notary’s electronic notary solution. (The notary has 45 days from date of the approval email to obtain an electronic notary solution, after which the approval becomes null and void.)
  6. Use only an electronic notary solution from an approved electronic notary solution provider to notarize documents as part of the Electronic Notarization Program. This technology must conform to the standards adopted by the Secretary of State by rule.

 

There are no requirements for additional education courses or a bond to become an electronic notary public under the Electronic Notarization Program. An approved electronic notary public need only apply to renew the Department’s approval when the e-notary’s electronic notarization solution expires or when his or her commission term expires. The electronic notary application form is available from the Department of State upon request or on their website at https://www.dos.pa.gov/notaries, or click here for further information.

Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Beginning April 20, 2020, remote notarization is temporarily authorized for all Pennsylvania notaries public pursuant to Act 15 of 2020 enacted by Senate Bill 841 (2020). This authorization allowing Pennsylvania notaries to perform notarial acts using communication technology for remotely located individuals will expire sixty days after termination or expiration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency issued by Governor Wolf. The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts at 57 Pa.C.S. §306 require the document signer to personally appear before a notary public for the performance of a notarial act, even those performed electronically with respect to electronic records.

What is the process to become a Pennsylvania remote online notary public?

Before a notary public performs the initial remote notarial act using communication technology for a remotely located individual, a notary public must:

 

  1. Be a duly appointed and commissioned notary public in Pennsylvania.
  2. Complete the Electronic Notary Public Application and submit it to the Department of State.
  3. Verify that he or she has not had any finalized or pending criminal or disciplinary actions since being appointed and commissioned.
  4. Follow the instructions in the email sent by the Department of State upon approval authorizing the notary to act as a remote notary public until the end of the notary’s current four-year commission term as a traditional notary.
  5. Log onto the Department of State’s website to select an approved remote notary technology vendor(s) to obtain the notary’s remote technology.
  6. Use only a remote notary technology from an approved remote technology vendor that conforms to the standards adopted by the Department of State by rule.

 

Once a remote notary technology has been issued to the notary public by the approved technology vendor, the technology provider will notify the Department of State through https://www.notaries.pa.gov (Partner Login/Keystone Login), and the notary’s record with the Department will be updated showing that particular remote notary technology has been issued to that notary. The notary will show as “e-notary capable” on the Department’s searchable public database when the technology vendor notifies the Department that it has given the notary authorization to use its services. The processes and procedures for becoming a remote notary mirror those of becoming an electronic notary because the same form is used for both. There are no requirements for additional education courses or a bond to become a remote notary public. The remote notary application form is available from the Department of State upon request or on their website at https://www.dos.pa.gov/notaries, or click here for further information.

How long is the term of a notary public commission in Pennsylvania?

The term of office for a Pennsylvania notary public is four years commencing from the date of appointment. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:  

 

  1. By resignation, death, or revocation.
  2. When a notary public is no longer a resident of Pennsylvania.
  3. When a nonresident notary ceases to have a place of employment or practice in this Commonwealth.
  4. When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
  5. When a notary no longer has the capability to read and/or write English.
  6. When a notary public becomes disqualified pursuant to Section 323 [relating to sanctions] (57 Pa C.S. §323a).

Is a Pennsylvania notary bond required to become a notary in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Within 45 days after the date of appointment or reappointment, all new applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries are required to obtain a surety bond in the amount of $10,000 (57 Pa C.S. §321a). The surety bond must be executed and issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in Pennsylvania. A surety or issuing entity must notify the Department of State of a payment made under a notary’s bond not later than thirty days after making a payment to a claimant under the bond. A notary public may perform notarial acts in Pennsylvania only during the period in which a valid bond is on file with the Department of State.

Do I need a Pennsylvania notary errors and omission insurance?

No. An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Pennsylvania. 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 (57 Pa C.S. §321[f][2]). The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Pennsylvania notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect a notary public in the event he or she commits a negligent act or makes an unintentional error or omission while acting in the notary’s official capacity. Such unpremeditated errors and omissions may well result in financial or other type of loss to the public or to a client, who may sue a notary public for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Pennsylvania notary selects.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Pennsylvania?

A Pennsylvania notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in all counties within the geographic borders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A notary public must be physically present in Pennsylvania regardless of whether the notarization is in-person or remote. A Pennsylvania notary public commission is only valid in and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Who appoints Pennsylvania notaries public?

The Pennsylvania Department of State appoints notaries public, administers the commissioning process, retains the records on notaries, and maintains an electronic database of active notaries and electronic notaries. Contact information for the Department of State is as follows:


Pennsylvania Department of State 
Division of Commissions 
Legislation and Notaries 
210 North Office Building 
Harrisburg, PA 17120 
(717) 787-5280 
https://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/Pages/default.aspx

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Pennsylvania?

Yes. The Pennsylvania notary statute requires all notaries public to use an inked rubber stamp to authenticate all their official acts (57 Pa C.S. §317).  Section 317 provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on a notary’s official stamp.
 

Dimensions: The rubber stamp must be rectangular, with a maximum height of 1 inch and width of 3½ inches, with a plain border.

 

Required Elements: The official stamp must show clearly in the following order:

 

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

 

Note: The stamp will no longer contain the municipality in which the notary maintains an office. The official stamp must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated. “Notaries may use an embosser in addition to the rubber stamp seal. However, the embosser is optional and may not replace the rubber stamp seal” (website, “Notary Public Equipment”). There are no prescribed dimensions provided for the embosser. A notary public must provide a written statement to the Department of State within 15 days of discovering that his or her rubber stamp has been lost, stolen, misplaced, destroyed, or otherwise made unavailable and provide the last date the notary discovered the stamping device was lost, stolen, misplaced, destroyed, or otherwise made unavailable. DO NOT send old notary stamps to the Department of State unless the notary’s commission has been suspended or revoked or if the notary has been instructed or ordered to do so.

 

For Pennsylvania notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

Is a notary journal required in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Pennsylvania notary statute requires all notaries public to record in chronological order all notarial acts performed in a journal created either on a tangible medium or in an electronic format (57 Pa C.S. §317a). If the journal is maintained in a tangible medium, it must be a bound register with numbered pages. If the journal is maintained in an electronic format, it must be in a tamper-evident electronic format complying with the regulations of the Department of State (57 Pa C.S. §317[b]). A notary public may maintain a separate journal for tangible records and for electronic records. For Pennsylvania notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

How much can a Pennsylvania notary charge for performing notarial acts?

Pennsylvania notary fees are set by the Department of State by regulation (4 Pa. Code §161.1). The maximum allowable fees that a Pennsylvania notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:

 

  1. Executing an affidavit (no matter how many signatures): $5.
  2. Taking an acknowledgment: $5; for each additional name: $2. 
  3. Administering an oath, per person: $5.
  4. Taking verification on oath or affirmation (no matter how many signatures): $5.
  5. Witnessing or attesting a signature (per signature): $5.
  6. Certifying or attesting a copy or deposition, per certified copy: $5.
  7. Noting a protest, per page: $3.

 

The fees fixed by the Department of State are for notarial services regardless of whether the services occur in the traditional pen and paper manner or electronically. As always, the notary public may waive the right to charge a fee and/or may charge reasonable clerical or administrative fees for services provided in addition to the notarization of a document. The fees for notarial services are presumed to be the property of the notary public and do not belong to the entity that employs the notary public, unless mutually agreed upon by the notary and the employer.

What notarial acts can a Pennsylvania notary public perform?

A Pennsylvania notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (57 Pa.C.S. §302[4]):

 

  1. Taking an acknowledgment.
  2. Administering an oath or affirmation.
  3. Taking a verification on oath or affirmation.
  4. Witnessing or attesting a signature.
  5. Certifying or attesting a copy or deposition.
  6. Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument.

How do I update my address for my Pennsylvania notary commission?

A Pennsylvania notary public must notify the Department of State within thirty days of any change in the information on file with the Department of State, including the notary’s office address or home address. The notice of a change in address must be made in writing or by email and must include the effective date of the change. The Department of State has a Change of Address form on their web page to assist notaries in complying with this requirement. If the notary’s new office address is in a different county, the notary public must register the notary’s official signature in the Prothonotary’s Office of the new county within thirty days of moving into the new county. The notice of an address change may be filed using the Department of State’s online change form system: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/NotaryServices/Pages/Update-Information-.aspx.

Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Pennsylvania?

Yes. A notary public must notify the Department of State within thirty days of any change in the information on file with the Department of State, including the notary’s legal name. The notice of a change in name must be on a form prescribed by the Department and accompanied by evidence of the name change (such as a marriage certificate, court order, or divorce decree).

 

Following notification to the Department of State, a notary public may:

 

  1. Use the new name or continue to perform notarial acts in the name in which he or she was commissioned until the expiration of his or her commission term; or
  2. Change his or her commission name to the new name after submitting the required application for reappointment and the supporting documents to the Department of State.

 

Before the notary uses the new name for the performance of notarial acts, the notary must register the new official signature with the Prothonotary’s Office of the county where the notary’s office address is located. The notary must also purchase a new rubber stamp seal. The notice of a name change may be filed using the Department of State’s online change form system: http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Notaries/NotaryServices/Pages/Update-Information-.aspx.

Pennsylvania notarial certificates:

Click here to view Pennsylvania notarial certificates.

 

 

Revised:   August 2020

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.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.