Notaries and Notary Services

Notaries are public officials who play a vital role in commerce and are on the front lines of deterring document fraud.

Two people meeting and having a document stamped

Appointed and commissioned by the Department of State, notaries have the authority to perform several duties, including:

  • administering oaths and affirmations
  • taking acknowledgments
  • taking a verification on oath or affirmation
  • witnessing or attesting signatures
  • certifying a copy of a record or deposition

Notaries have been officially recognized in Pennsylvania for over 200 years, and currently more than 85,000 people are commissioned as notaries in the Commonwealth.

Under the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), the Pennsylvania Department of State appoints and commissions notaries public for a term of four years from the date of appointment.

New and renewing notaries may apply online at or mail in the application. The Department of State encourages renewing notaries to complete the 3 hours of mandatory notary education and reapply online before your current commission expires. If you fail to apply for renewal of your commission before its expiration date, you will be required to take the examination. 

An applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements for appointment as a notary public:

  • 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 to receive a commission because of character, criminal convictions or prior sanctions
  • Education – All applicants for both initial appointment and reappointment as a notary public must complete at least three hours of approved notary education within the six months immediately preceding the application for appointment or reappointment
  • Examination – All applicants for a commission as a notary public who do not hold a current and unexpired commission in this Commonwealth must pass an examination administered by the Department’s examination vendor Pearson VUE

A notary public applicant will not be issued a notary public commission unless the applicant:

  • Has submitted an application on a form prescribed and furnished by the Secretary of the Commonwealth accompanied by the $42 nonrefundable filing fee
  • Has verified that he or she has the honesty, integrity, competence and reliability to act as a notary public
  • Has not made a fraudulent, dishonest or deceitful misstatement or omission in the application
  • Has provided proof of completion of a three-hour preapproved notary public course within six months preceding application
  • Has passed the examination (for applicants who have never held notary commissions and all applicants who previously held notary commissions but whose commissions have lapsed or expired at the time their application for reappointment is received by the Department)
  • Has not been convicted of or accepted Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for a felony or an offense involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit
  • Has not had a finding against or admission of liability in a legal proceeding or disciplinary action based on the fraud, dishonesty or deceit of the applicant or notary public
  • Has not failed to discharge a duty required of a notary public, whether by RULONA, by regulation of the department or by Federal or State law
  • Has not used false or misleading advertising or representation representing that the notary public has a duty, right or privilege that the notary public does not have
  • Has not violated a regulation of the Department
  • Has not been denied a commission, refused to renew, revoked, suspended or otherwise had a notary commission disciplined by the Commonwealth or any other state
  • Has failed to maintain a bond

The Secretary of the Commonwealth may, for good cause, reject any application subject to the right of notice, hearing and adjudication and the right of appeal. Lack of proof of completion of a three-hour preapproved notary public course will result in outright rejection of an application without the right of appeal.

The following persons are not eligible to hold the office of notary public:

  • 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

Allow at least 1 to 3 weeks for processing notary public applications.

The applicant's employer/business address and telephone number as provided on the application is public information. If no employer or business address is listed or "n/a" is supplied, the home address and phone number become the public address and phone number by default.

Upon appointment, the Department of State will send notice of appointment to the applicant, with further instructions and an official bond and oath form to be executed by the applicant. These materials will be emailed to the email supplied on the application. Notaries should set email permissions to receive email from and check their spam folders for these emails. 

Applicants must take the oath of office and record their oath, completed bond and commission in the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the notary's business office is located. Applicants must also register their signature with the Prothonotary's office in the county where the notary's business office is located. Starting January 3, 2023, applicants may register their signature in the office of Recorder of Deeds instead of the Prothonotary. Both of these steps must be completed within forty-five (45) calendar days after the date of appointment, or the notary's commission becomes null and void. Extensions will not be given.

The notary oath of office is not required to be taken before the Recorder of Deeds – this is largely a matter of convenience and custom. A notary may take the oath of office before another official authorized to take oaths (any fellow notary public, judge, etc.). Once a notary has taken the oath and it is properly indicated on the bond form (with county, notary signature, date, official's seal, signature and title completed), the Recorder may follow through with the recording process. 

Only after all these steps have been completed may an individual serve as an official notary public. If an appointee fails to record the oath, completed bond and commission or fails to register his/her signature within forty-five (45) days, the individual will be required to reapply to become a notary public by submitting a new application, the application fee and meeting all other requirements for appointment to a new commission and a new appointment date.

The $42 application fee is non-refundable and may not be applied to a new application after the 45-day period has expired. If the application, bonding, recording and oath taking steps have been properly completed, the notary commission expires four years after the date of appointment.

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Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Notaries, Commissions & Legislation 201 North Office Building Harrisburg, PA 17120