How to Become a Notary in PA

Becoming a Notary in PA

There are approximately five million Americans providing important legal services to their communities by serving as notary publics. They witness and legalize important transactions including: contracts, mortgage documents, adoption papers and powers of attorney.

As one of the largest bonding agencies in the U.S., Notaries.com makes it easy to apply to become a notary in Pennsylvania. We offer an affordable package that gives you everything you need to complete the PA notary application process. You can also renew your Pennsylvania notary commission with Notaries.com.

We offer an inclusive notary package that provides all of the essentials needed to become a notary in PA. Our package covers everything except for the state and exam fees, making your entire application process streamlined, easy and affordable.

Our inclusive notary package includes

  • Step-by-step process guide
  • Required notary education course
  • State required notary bond
  • Customized self-inking notary stamp

Step By Step: How to Become a Notary in PA

Below is a step-by-step guide that shows the process of becoming a Pennsylvania notary public:

  1. Meet the basic state requirements
  2. Complete the state-approved notary public education course
  3. Submit official application
  4. Pass the notary exam
  5. Secure your commission certificate and notary bond
  6. Take the Oath of Office

Notarial Requirements in Pennsylvania

  • Must be U.S. citizen or have gained legal citizenship
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be able to read and write English
  • Must agree to adhere to any other guidelines set forth by the PA notary public commission

Step 1 – Meet the Basic State Requirements

The first item on your checklist should be to make sure you meet Pennsylvania’s basic notarial requirements. Are you at least 18 years old and a legal U.S. citizen? Are you able to read and write English? Here’s a checklist to make sure you are eligible:

Notarial Requirements in Pennsylvania

A commission term in Pennsylvania is valid for four years. Residents (which includes Delaware or New York residents who are employed in Pennsylvania) wishing to become eligible in the PA notary public commission must first meet the following four requirements:

  • Must be U.S. citizen or have gained legal citizenship
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be able to read and write English
  • Must agree to adhere to any other guidelines set forth by the PA notary public commission

In addition to these, character is also a consideration. To become a notary in PA, you must not be disqualified under section 323 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, which lists general disqualifying actions like lying on your state application. Many states won’t approve prospective notaries with a felony on their record. You will also be ineligible if you’ve previously had your commission revoked.

Step 2 – Complete the State-Approved Notary Public Education Course

As of October 2017, all notaries in Pennsylvania both new and reappointed are required to complete a pre-approved, three-hour online training session. You must complete the notary public education course within the six-month period immediately preceding your application.

Our notary package provides this training to you fully online, in addition to simplifying the application process. Here’s how to get started:

  • Complete all of the information requested here to start the application process. Keep in mind you will later need to enter your name on the state website the exact same way you did on Notaries.com.
    • If you provide employment information (optional), your notary will be commissioned in the county you are employed in.
    • If your business address is the same as your home address, you must include a letter to the Secretary of State explaining that your business is based at home.
    • If you work in Pennsylvania but live elsewhere, you’ll need a letter from your employer stating how many hours per week you work in PA.
  • After you complete the information above, you’ll next purchase your notary bond and customized notary stamp at Notaries.com. We’ll prompt you to provide information that will be later required for your state notary commission. Your notary bond and notary seal will not be issued or manufactured until the entire application process has been completed, which includes passing the notary exam and receiving your commission appointment from the state.
  • Take the online education course at Notaries.com. Our course is interactive and can be accessed 24/7 on any web-based device, making it easy to work in your schedule.

Once you’ve successfully completed the course, you’ll receive a notary education completion certificate that you’ll later upload to the state website.

Step 3 – Submit Official Pennsylvania State Notary Application

You must complete and submit the notary public application to become a notary in PA. When you purchase our application package with Notaries.com, we’ll provide you with a set of instructions to guide you through the application process at the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.

The application and reappointment form contain the information you need to become and remain state-approved.

We also provide you with additional helpful resources, including assistance checking your application status and information on the equipment you’ll need as a notary public in PA.

To become a notary in Pennsylvania, you’ll also be required to pay the state filing fee of $42. This fee is paid by you directly to the state.

Step 4 – Pass the Notary Exam

Once your application is submitted on the Pennsylvania state website and you’ve completed the approved education course, the state will give you directions for taking the official PA state notary exam. This exam costs $65 and is administered by third-party vendor Pearson Vue. A score of 75 is required to pass.

The process will look like this:

  • You’ll receive an email from Pearson Vue with approval to test approximately two weeks after completing the application.
  • Register to take the exam at a location near you.
  • After you pass the exam, you’ll be issued your Notice of Appointee letter and a blank notary bond by the state. If you provided a business address on your application, the letter will be sent there.

Step 5 – Secure Commission Certificate and Notary Bond

A newly-appointed notary public is required to execute a notary bond of $10,000. As soon as you get your Notice of Appointee letter and bond from the state, it is critical that you mail them directly to Notaries.com, per our course instructions. The state only allows 45 days to complete the bond, take it to the Recorder of Deeds and get sworn in. If you don’t meet this deadline, your notary appointment will be voided and you’ll have to start from the beginning.

If you choose to have Notaries.com help you with your bond, we will complete your bond as part of your notary package and will send it to you along with your Notice of Appointee letter, customized notary stamp and record journal.

Another optional service to purchase is Notary Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance, which provides liability protection for notaries against claims of negligence or inaccurate work. E&O Insurance benefits can vary greatly depending on the policy, but it often covers court costs and the amount specified in the insurance contract.

Step 6 – Take the Oath of Office

Also within 45 days of your appointment, you must register your signature with a regulating notary official. Again, if you do not meet the requirements within the initial 45-day period, your appointment as a notary public is voided. When we send back your completed bond, letter and stamp, go to the Recorder of Deeds office of the county where your notary appointment is and get sworn in.

Once you have been sworn in and taken the oath of office, you are eligible as a notary public in PA.

If you need any additional notary supplies, you can order them from Notaries.com, including assorted sample forms, instruction manuals, seal wafers, ink bottles, self-inking stamps, a blacklight and a law dictionary. Many notary publics also buy a window decal to advertise their services around their community.

elderly woman signing a document at the office with managers

Renewing Your Notary Commission

For current Pennsylvania notaries who need to renew their license, we can also help you navigate this process.

We recommend reapplying for your notary commission at least three months before your notary license expiration date. If your current notary commission is expired, even for a day, you must complete the entire new application process.

You must take the online notary education course to renew your commission, but you do not have to take the official state exam again as long as your current commission hasn’t expired.

Why Be a Notary Public?

Earn Additional Income

Becoming a notary is a great way to make extra income. Depending on the document, Pennsylvania notary fees range from $3-5 per signature. That can really add up if you’re working with large documents. It is also customary to charge a fee for your travel or other expenses related to your duties.

Schedule Flexibility

The extra money is certainly a perk, but just as importantly, you’ll maintain the notary work on your terms. It’s an effective way to make money if you stay at home or if you work and have some availability in the evenings. Most signature requests come outside of traditional business hours.

Improve Your Employment Prospects

A long list of industries across Pennsylvania use notaries, so becoming a notary in PA will make you very marketable and in demand. Many employers value someone with the ability to notarize an internal work document or one for a customer.

Give Back to the Community

If you have a sense of civic pride and enjoy helping others, becoming an official notary is especially rewarding. Many people (like senior citizens, college students or low-income workers) need documents notarized and community-driven notaries can offer free or low-cost notary services. It pays off on the back end, as that helps you market your availability to paying clients.

How to Become a Notary in PA: Frequently Asked Questions

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

To apply for a notary commission, there is a $42 fee. Before you submit your application, you must complete a notary education course from an approved vendor. There is also a $65 notary exam fee. Depending on your county, there may be fees to register your signature or execute your notary bond. Other service and equipment fees depend on the vendor your choose. Notary applicants are encouraged to always read the fine print before buying anything.

Notaries.com offers an all-in-one notary package that gives you everything you need to become a notary in PA. Our package includes the approved online course and covers everything except for the state and exam fees, making your entire application process easy and affordable.

What kind of training or education is required?

One of the first steps in becoming commissioned is to complete a state-approved, three-hour training course. This must be done no more than six months before submitting your application. Notary.com offers the approved course online so first-time and renewing notaries can easily complete the requirement.

Do I need to pass an exam?

Yes, new notaries must pass the state exam to be commissioned. Renewing notaries must also retake the exam if their current notary commission has expired. The exam covers Pennsylvania’s regulations, ethics and procedures. Outside vendor Pearson VUE administers the exam.

How long does the notary commission process take?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, the process for becoming approved by the PA state notary commissions is expected to take four to six weeks. The process could take longer depending on when you complete the exam and application.

Do I need a background check to become a notary?

Notary publics must submit to a fingerprinting and pass a background check. Any previous felony convictions on your record will cause your application to be denied. Also, you won’t be eligible if you’ve had a previous notary commission revoked.

Will I need to execute a surety bond?

Yes, new notaries in Pennsylvania are required to have a $10,000 bond written by a state-qualified company. This is necessary to protect those who rely on notaries who purposefully or accidentally violate state laws. If damages are paid from a bond, you are responsible for repaying the bond company. In addition, many notaries choose to purchase additional protection called E & O Insurance, although it is not required.

How long does a notary commission last in PA?

The commission term is valid for four years from the date of appointment. Then you will need to renew your license, using the steps we explain above.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Required supplies to be a notary in Pennsylvania include official notary seals, affidavit stamp and a notarial journal. An embosser is optional.

Make sure your stamps don’t bleed be sure to ask your supply vendor about product guarantees. When you’re buying your journal, be sure to ask about security and quality features so your records are kept safely.

Notaries.com is one of the largest bonding agencies in the U.S. and provides top-quality supplies to new and renewing notaries.

Where can I conduct notarizations?

Once commissioned, a notary public is eligible to work anywhere within the borders of Pennsylvania.

Who can I notarize for?

A notary public may serve any person who can produce valid identification. Acceptable identifiers include:

  • State-issued driver’s license or ID card
  • U.S. passport or military ID
  • ID issued by the state, county or city government
  • Permanent resident card issued by U.S. Immigration Services
  • Foreign passport

The request must meet all notarization requirements.

Can I notarize documents over the phone?

An important part of a notary’s job is to verify identity. It is recommended that all notarizations happen in-person so all parties are present for verification and witness.

How do I renew my notary commission?

Your commission lasts for four years and then must be renewed. At renewal time, you must submit a valid application and meet all notary public basic requirements. If your commission expires you will be required to pass the exam again.

What is a notary signing agent?

A notary signing agent ensures the validity of mortgage loan documents as well as the identity of the lender and borrower. Lending companies hire NSAs to make sure all of the documents are in legal order. NSAs normally make substantially more per signature than notary publics, sometimes between $50 and $150 per signing.