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How to Become a Notary Public in Pennsylvania

To become a Notary Public in Pennsylvania, applicants must complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet the requirements to become a Notary (see below).
  2. Take a three-hour approved education course.
  3. Complete the online application form. You'll need to attach your training certificate and pay the $42 fee.
  4. In about one to three weeks, you'll get an email from either the Department of State or Pearson VUE with details about the $65 exam.
  5. Follow the testing instructions carefully. If you pass, your score will be sent to the state.
  6. Receive an email with your Notice of Appointee letter and blank bond.
  7. Get a $10,000 surety bond. Choose a bonding company authorized to do business in Pennsylvania.
  8. Within 45 days of appointment, go to your county recorder of deeds and present evidence of your identity. Take your oath of office and file your bond.
  9. Register your signature with the prothonotary of your county.
  10. Receive your commission certificate and a wallet card from the recorder of deeds.
  11. Buy your Notary seal and journal.
  12. Get E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Pennsylvania Notary Process | PA Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Pennsylvania Notary Process

Have more questions about the PA Notary application process? We've got you covered.

How much does it cost to become a Notary in PA?

There is a $42 application fee and a $65 exam fee. There are county fees for filing your bond, signature and commission.

Additional costs for bonds, Notary supplies and education courses vary depending on the vendor(s) you choose. Be sure to check the fine print and product quality before buying your supplies. Some vendors may package items with additional or hidden fees — processing fees for example.

How long does it take to receive my Notary commission?

The Pennsylvania Department of State recommends allowing one to three weeks for the processing of a Notary Public commission application. It could take several additional weeks depending on when you pass the exam and finish the rest of the application process.

How long does a Pennsylvania Notary commission last?

The term of a Pennsylvania Notary commission is four years.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Pennsylvania

Find out who and who cannot be a Notary in Pennsylvania along with training requirements.

Who can become a Notary?

A Notary Public applicant in Pennsylvania must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
  • Be a resident of, or be employed at a physical address within, the Commonwealth
  • Be of good character, integrity and ability
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Not be disqualified under 57 Pa.C.S. 323
  • Not have had a Notary commission revoked in Pennsylvania or any other state in the past five years
  • Must comply with other requirements the Department may establish

Who can't be a Notary?

You cannot be a Notary Public if you:

  • Are a member of the U.S. Congress
  • Receive money or special perks for holding a federal government office or appointment
  • Are a member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania

What kind of training will I need?

You have to complete a three-hour pre-approved Notary Public education course within the six months prior to submitting your application. The NNA offers a state-approved online training course that makes it easy for new and renewing Notaries to fulfill Pennsylvania's education requirement.

You may want to take additional education courses for training and guidance above and beyond the state-required course, but additional training is optional.

Do I need to take a Notary exam?

Yes, new Notaries must pass an exam that covers state statutes, regulations, procedures and ethics. It is administered by Pearson VUE and you'll need to carefully follow all of their testing instructions. You'll have six months from the time you're authorized to take the exam to pass it. There are no limits on the number of times you can take it. Your exam results will be sent to the Department of State by Pearson VUE.

If you don't pass within six months, you'll need to take the basic education course and restart the commission application process again.

What kind of supplies will I need?

You'll need a Notary seal stamp, journal and certificates. An embosser is optional.

The Notary seal must be an inked rubber stamp in a rectangular design no larger than 3.5" x 1". Within a plain border, the following information must be shown:

  • The words "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Notary Seal"
  • The words "Notary Public"
  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The county in which you maintain an office
  • Your commission expiration date
  • The seven-digit identification number assigned by the Department of State

Stamps should not bleed during or after use. Ask the vendor you choose about product guarantees because quality and durability can vary greatly.

When you're deciding which journal to buy, look for security features like tamper-proof sewn binding. You must keep your journal safe and secure.

Do I need a surety bond or insurance?

Yes. Notaries in Pennsylvania are required to have a $10,000, four-year surety bond from a company qualified to write bonds in the state.

A bond is not insurance. A bond is a financial guarantee from a bonding company to those who rely on a Notary and experience financial damages because a Notary intentionally or unintentionally violated a law. If damages are paid out from the bond, you will need to repay your surety company.

Since a surety bond does not protect the Notary, many Notaries choose to purchase optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policies to protect themselves from legal expenses. E&O insurance is not a requirement in Pennsylvania.

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General Notary Public Information

Wondering if you can notarize outside of the state or charge fees? Read on below.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Pennsylvania Department of State, Division of Legislation and Notaries, located in Harrisburg, PA, issues Notary Public commissions.

Can anyone help me become a Notary?

Yes. Several companies, including the NNA, offer Notary training, supplies, bonds, insurance and assistance with the entire application process. Also, the Secretary of State's website has the application with submission details, educational materials and a training video if you want to get the process started on your own.

May I become a Pennsylvania Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. In addition to U.S. citizens, Pennsylvania allows permanent legal residents of the Commonwealth to become Notaries.

Where will I be able to notarize?

A Pennsylvania Notary can perform notarial acts anywhere within the state's borders.

Who can I notarize for?

You can notarize for any member of the public who presents acceptable identification, as long as the request meets all statutory requirements for notarization. You're prohibited from notarizing a document in which you or your spouse has a direct or pecuniary interest.

How much can Pennsylvania Notaries charge per notarial act?

Pennsylvania Notaries can charge no more than $5 for most notarizations. If you decide to charge for your services, you must display your fees in a conspicuous location in your place of business or present your fees upon request if you're outside of your office.

What happens if I move or change my name?

You must report any changes to your address or name to the Department within 30 days of the change. If you change your office or home address, complete the Notary Public Change of Address/Email form. You may print and mail it to the Department or fill it out online.

If you move your Notary office to a new county, you must register your official signature in the prothonotary's office of the new county within 30 days of moving. Moving outside of the Commonwealth results in the automatic resignation of your commission.

For name changes, you must complete the Notary Public Change of Name form and provide evidence of the name change (marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order). You may mail the form to the Department or submit it online. You may continue using your former name on notarial acts until your commission expires, but you may not use your new name until you've registered your new signature with the prothonotary's office of the county in which your office is located and bought a new seal.

How do I renew my Pennsylvania Notary commission?

To renew your commission, you must meet the requirements to become a Notary and complete the application process. This includes the three-hour education requirement but excludes the exam. If your commission lapses, even for one day, you will be required to pass the exam.

How do I become an electronic Notary in Pennsylvania?

While Pennsylvania does not have any permanent remote online notarization laws, the state does allow Notaries with an active traditional commission to perform electronic notarizations. In an electronic notarization, the signer and Notary meet in person but sign digital documents with electronic signatures.

To qualify for eNotarization, you must be a commissioned Notary Public. You must submit a completed Electronic Notary Public Application to the Department. If approved, you'll receive an email asking you to log into the Department's website where you’ll choose from a list of approved eNotary technology vendors.

The Department will forward your electronic Notary authorization to your chosen vendor(s), and you'll need to work with the vendor(s) to get set up. Your eNotary authorization lasts for as long as your four-year traditional commission is valid. You'll need to follow the same steps for reappointment.

If you're not quite ready yet, we have additional resources where you can learn what a Notary is, what they do and why you should become a commissioned Notary.

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