In October of 2017, Pennsylvania officially instituted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA).
The law amended Pennsylvania’s notary public education, testing, and appointment process.
To simplify these changes, we have outlined the seven simple steps you need to know to become a commissioned notary.
1. MEET QUALIFICATIONS
Before applying to become a notary you have to meet the following qualifications:
- Be At Least 18 Years of Age
- Be a US Citizen or Permanent Legal Resident
- Possess The Ability To Read and Write in English
- Be of Good Moral Character (Not Convicted of a Felony)
- Be a PA Resident or Maintain a Practice or Place of Employment in the State
2. COMPLETE A COURSE
If you meet the State’s notary public qualifications, the next step is to complete an education course.
New and renewing notaries must complete an approved 3-hour basic education course.
Courses such as the one provided by thepanotary.com are designed to ensure that you understand the duties and responsibilities of the office of notary public and the various types of notarial acts that you will be authorized to perform, such as: administering oaths and affirmations, affidavits, and certifying copies.
3. SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION
After completing an approved basic education course; your next step is to submit an application to the Department of State.
The Department accepts applications online at:notaries.pa.gov
You will have to pay a non-refundable application fee of $42 and upload a copy of your signed course completion certificate.
4. PASS THE EXAM
If your application is approved, the Department will permit you to take the State’s official notary exam.
If you are renewing an existing notary commission, you are exempt from the exam requirement.
However, if you are a new notary, you will have to register for the exam with Pearson.
Pearson is a test proctor with many locations throughout the Commonwealth.
If you do not pass the exam on the first try, you can retake the test as many times as you need to for up to six months.
However, each time you schedule the exam, you will have to pay a non-refundable fee of $65 again.
PA Notary Exam Outline
After passing the exam you will receive a ‘Notice of Appointment‘ email from the state.
It’s important to be aware that an appointment and a commission are not the same.
An appointment is similar to a job offer. It’s an invitation to become a notary public.
However, there are just a few more steps you will need to complete to become a commissioned.
5. GET BONDED
All PA Notaries are required to maintain a $10,000 surety bond.
The average cost of the bond is $50. The bond is a financial safety net for the State.
If you violate the law and cause financial harm to an individual or entity such as church or business, the state could use your bond to provide financial compensation to the aggrieved party.
6. TAKE AN OATH OF OFFICE
Once you have your bond, the next step is to be sworn into office.
It will not be as ceremonial as a presidential swearing-in, but you will raise your right hand with a representative at the Recorder of Deeds Office in the County where you maintain a business or work address. You will take an oath agreeing to uphold the duties and responsibilities of the office of notary public.
7. RECORD YOUR OFFICIAL SIGNATURE
Last but not least, your official signature will need to be filed in the Prothonotary’s office.
A Prothonotary is a County’s official record keeper. The office will keep a record of your signature on file.
Once your signature is filed, you will be a commissioned notary public for a term of 4 years.