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In this comprehensive guide on becoming a notary in Pennsylvania, we lay out the roadmap to achieving this goal. With easy-to-follow, actionable steps, we’ll help you navigate this intriguing process, turning the complex into simple.
Whether you’re looking to serve your community or generate additional income, this article will offer everything you need to know to get started.
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Become a Notary in Pennsylvania
In order to become a Pennsylvania notary, you will need to complete a few simple steps.
Step 1: Meet the Eligibility Requirements
In order to qualify in Pennsylvania, notary applicants need to satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
- Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in this Commonwealth
- Be able to read and write English
- Not be disqualified by character, criminal convictions, or prior sanctions
Once confirming that you meet these requirements, you will be ready to continue on to the next step.
Step 2: Complete an Approved Education Course
You will need to take a three-hour education course that has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of State. A full list of these courses can be found on the Department of State’s Education Providers page.
There are two types of available courses:
- Basic education courses — For individuals applying to be a notary public for the first time or former notaries whose commissions have expired.
- Continuing education courses — For renewing notaries with an active commission.
The purpose of these courses is to help notaries public become familiar with their responsibilities, as it is anticipated that course completion will improve a notary public’s ability to serve their customers as a public official in Pennsylvania.
Make sure to hold onto the training certificate you’ll receive when you complete your education course, as you will need it later on in the application.
Note: You must complete your chosen course within the six months immediately preceding your application.
For all of your Pennsylvania notary training course needs, StateRequirement recommends Notary.net
Step 3: Complete the Online Application Form
In Pennsylvania, applicants can fill out their application form online using the Online Notary Public Application System.
Since you need to complete your application in one session, you will need to have the following documents on hand before starting:
- Proof of completion of an approved education course
- Criminal history documentation
Additionally, where necessary, you will need documentation if you have been involved in:
- A notary public disciplinary action
- Any other professional license disciplinary action
- Civil liability in legal proceedings for actions as a notary public
After completing the application form and attaching the relevant documentation, you will need to pay a $42 fee to submit your application to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Step 4: Register and Take the Notary Public Exam
After your notary application has been reviewed and approved by the Department of State, you should be contacted by Pearson VUE within one to three weeks with information regarding your exam.
You can take this computer-based exam at almost any Pearson VUE test center in Pennsylvania and will have six months to pass from the date you are authorized to take it.
The exam can be taken as many times as necessary during this time, though each attempt will cost $65. If you are unable to pass within six months, you’ll have to reapply at a later date after you’ve studied the mandatory education course again.
If you successfully pass the exam, the Department of State will send you an email continuing your Notice of Appointment letter, a blank notary bond, an oath form, and instructions on how to continue.
Note: Look out for emails from firstname.lastname@example.org in both your inbox and spam folders.
Step 5: Purchase a $10,000 Surety Bond
Each Pennsylvania notary public must execute a $10,000 bond within 45 days of being appointed before they can begin to offer notary services.
The purpose of this notary bond is to protect the public from any financial losses (up to $10,000) caused by the negligent performance of a notary public’s duties.
For the Secretary of the Commonwealth to approve a bond, it must have EITHER a duly authorized surety company OR two sufficient individual sureties.
Note: You can read more about the bonding requirements in Pennsylvania here.
Step 6: Go to Your County Recorder of Deeds
Once this notary bond has been obtained, the next step is to take the oath of office and record this oath, completed bond, and commission in the Recorder of Deeds in the county of the notary’s business office.
Applicants must also register their signature, which can be done at EITHER the office of Recorder of Deeds OR the Prothonotary’s office in the same county.
Once all this has been done, you may officially begin to notarize documents as a notary public. Under the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), your commission will expire four years following the date you were appointed.
If you fail to complete all of these steps within 45 days, your commission will become null and void and you will need to re-submit a new application.
Note: There is a non-refundable application fee of $42.
Step 7: Protect Yourself With Errors and Omissions Insurance
While not required by law, it’s a good idea to consider protecting yourself with Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance.
This type of insurance provides coverage for any potential mistakes or omissions that you might make as you perform notarial acts. It’s an extra layer of protection that can give you peace of mind while operating for a relatively low opportunity cost.
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Step 8: Obtain Notary Supplies
Finally, you’ll need to acquire your notary public supplies.
These include your custom notary stamp or seal (used to affix to documents), as well as your public journal.
Remember that, as a notary, you will serve a vital role in your community. This responsibility requires diligence, precision, and a high ethical standard.
Take your time, follow the steps, and prepare to provide a valuable service.
Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend having a look at notary.net’s affordable and state-specific notary supplies package.
Becoming a Notary in Pennsylvania FAQ
How long does it take to become a notary in Pennsylvania?
The length of time it takes to become a notary can vary depending on several factors. After meeting the basic Pennsylvania notary requirements, you must complete a three-hour mandatory education course, pass an examination, and then wait for your application to be processed. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
What is the total cost to become a notary in Pennsylvania?
The total cost varies depending on the cost of the supplies and online notary course you purchase. However, in terms of the application process, you will need to pay $65 per exam attempt and a $42 application fee. Overall, the total cost could range between $200 to $300. To find out more, see our article on How to Become a Notary in Pennsylvania.
Can you take the Pennsylvania notary test online?
While the Pennsylvania notary test is taken on a computer, it must be done in person at one of Pearson VUE’s approved testing centers. For more guidance on how to get commissioned, make sure to check out our article on How to Become a Notary.
What disqualifies you from being a notary in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, a number of factors can disqualify you, including convictions for felonies involving dishonesty or deceit and failure to complete the required education or pass the exam. Additionally, a notary public whose commission was revoked or suspended in the past may be disqualified from obtaining a new Pennsylvania notary commission.
What is the hardest state to become a notary?
The difficulty of becoming a notary can vary significantly from state to state due to differences in the requirements. Generally, California is thought to be one of the most challenging states in which to become a notary due to its requirement of passing a background check.
For all related articles, have a look at our How to Become a Notary page.