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How to Become a Pennsylvania Notary
So you're thinking about becoming a notary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but are confused about how to start the process? Never fear, QTbot, a current notary public for the Commonwealth, has written this hub just for you!
Step 1: Determine whether you are eligible to become a notary
According to the PA Department of State website:
A notary public applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements for an appointment:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a resident of or be employed within the Commonwealth
- Be of good character, integrity and ability
The following persons are not eligible to hold the office of notary public:
- Any person holding any judicial office in the Commonwealth, except the office of Magisterial District Justice.
- A member of the U.S. Congress, and a person holding an office or appointment of profit or trust under the legislative, executive or judiciary departments of the federal government for which he or she receives a salary, fees or perquisites.
- Any member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.
Step 2: Complete the mandatory education requirement
After you've verified your eligibility status, you need to select, sign up for and complete a notary education program that meets the Commonwealth of PA requirements. You can fulfill your requirement with classes offered online or in-person classes. I liked the online program offered by the American Society of Notaries (ASN) because it was only $40 and the format was easy to use and fairly straightforward. Even though the course is supposed to take approximately 3 hours, you can go slower as long as you complete the course within 2 weeks of enrollment (you can also go faster, if you're really speedy).
Step 3: Fill out the application and write a letter to your district senator
Once you completed your notary training course, you can download the PA notary application and read more about the application process by checking out the Dept of State's website (link above) and clicking the tab that says "Application Process and Instructions." After you have filled the application out properly, remembered to print out (or make a photocopy of) your certificate of completion from the notary course, and written out a check for $40 payable to the "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," you need to figure out which state senator to send your application to for approval. You can find this out easily by going to the Pennsylvania General Assembly website and typing in your home address, or you can search by county (but searching by address is more precise). Now that you know which senator to send your application to, you should compose a letter to enclose with your completed application, application fee of $40 and certificate of completion of the mandatory education requirement. Below is a template for your convenience, based on the one that I used to contact my district's senator.
Senator First and Last Name
170 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Re: Senatorial Signature Request for Notary Public Application
I am writing to request that you please review and sign my application to be a notary public. Please find enclosed a copy of my notary education course completion certificate, a signed, completed application for a new appointment as a notary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a check in the amount of $40.00 to cover the application fee. Thank you very much for your time.
Very truly yours,
Your First and Last Name
Step 4: Order your supplies, obtain a minimum $10,000 bond (required by PA law) and Errors and Omissions insurance
After you've received a letter from your senator confirming receipt of your application materials, and you've received information from the Dept of State with your notary i.d. number, you should purchase a notary seal that is in compliance with PA standards (see photo above), a journal of notarial events, a minimum $10,000 surety bond (required by law) and Errors and Omissions insurance, which is optional, but is essential to protect yourself from any financial damages that could be incurred for any major notarial mistakes. The surety bond required by law only protects your clients if a mistake is made, but does not protect the notary -- meaning you could be sued if you improperly notarize a document. I purchased my notarial seal, journal of notarial events, embossing seal, surety bond (the surety bond from Notary Rotary only costs $30 for the minimum $10,000 coverage) and E&O insurance from Notary Rotary (Notary Rotary offers several options for E&O insurance, but for example, you could get $15,000 of coverage that will protect you for an entire 4 year term for $52!) because they have reasonably priced products and also offer nice, useful free gifts (i.e. a personalized address stamp).
Step 5: Go to the Recorder of Deeds to record your official signature and oath
Once you have your supplies, surety bond and E&O insurance, it's time for you to go to your local Recorder of Deeds office to get your official signature and oath recorded. The costs of this vary depending on the county you live in. Bring a valid government issued photo i.d. and proof of your surety bond, and an acceptable form of payment for any associated recording fees to the Recorder of Deeds office.
Congratulations!!!! You are now an official notary commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!!!