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Frequently Asked Questions

Notary and Motor Vehicle Questions

Last Modified: August 16, 2021

General Questions

The notary statement needs to reflect the date you completed the notary act, which in this example is 6/15/20XX. You may not use a date in the past.

You may notarize a document from another state if your customer appears before you in Pennsylvania and the notary wording (certificate of notarial act) meets Pennsylvania RULONA standards.

You do not need to read or understand the document you are notarizing. You need to be able to communicate with the customer in a language you both understand or through an interpreter. The notary wording (certificate of notarial act) needs to be in English.
The venue is where you are notarizing the document. You should always print the name of the county where you are notarizing in the venue.
Not normally, but like any notarization, what you do is determined by the notary wording. If there is notary wording associated with a witness’s signature, you need to notarize.

An apostille is used by foreign governments to authenticate an official signature on a document. Instructions for obtaining an apostille can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.

If your stamp is only placed on the document one time, only one journal entry is required, regardless of how many signatures are notarized.

No, each notarization requires a separate journal entry. Every time you sign and place your official stamp you are required to make a separate and complete journal entry.

Pennsylvania law (20 Pa.C.S. Section 5601) states, if a power of attorney is signed by mark or by another individual on behalf of the signer, it must be witnessed by two individuals who are 18 or older.

It is best practice to use witnesses on other documents signed with non-standard signatures.

When you change jobs, you should take your stamp and journal with you.

The law Section 318(a)(1)) states, a notary public is responsible for the security of their stamping device. A notary public may not allow another individual to use the device to perform a notarial act.

The law Section 319(h)(3)(ii)) states, a journal may not be surrendered to an employer of the notary public upon termination of employment.

You may act as the notary and a witness on the same document. However, the entity that prepared the document may prefer the notary and the witness not be the same person.

You may not act as the notary and a witness when the signature of the witness needs to be notarized. You may not act as the notary and a witness for a power of attorney.

You are required to deliver your journal to the recorder of deeds in the county where your office of record is located and destroy your official stamp.

You will print Adams County for the venue during that time. Your venue is where the notarization is physically taking place.

If you are notarizing an acknowledgment, the customer may sign the document before appearing for the notarization. If you are notarizing a verification on oath or affirmation or a witnessing or attesting a signature, you must witness the customer sign.

Watch this short video for instructions.

Notary Appointment/Reappointment Questions

Use an email address on your notary application that you monitor regularly. Check your spam folder for emails from ra-notaries@pa.gov. Add the ra-notaries@pa.gov email to your safe sender list.

Read the Notice to Appointee letter carefully. You have 45 days to complete the commissioning process. To complete the process, you must:

  1. Have the bond completed by a bonding company.
    • If you purchased an appointment or reappointment package, PAN performs this step for you.
  2. Record your bond, oath and commission with the recorder of deeds in the county where your office of record it located.
  3. Register your signature with the prothonotary in the county where your office of record is located.

Upon your retirement as a notary, please remember to:

  • Turn your journal(s) in to your county recorder of deeds
  • Keep photocopies of all your registers for your own personal records
  • Deface your rubber stamp seal before throwing it away

For more information, read the document Important facts you need to know if you are letting your commission expire. For further details, refer to the Practical Guide for Pennsylvania Notaries Public.

The Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds has partnered with the Montgomery County Prothonotary to swear in notaries both in-person and via video conference. There is an additional convenience fee to get sworn in via video conference. For more information, visit the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds website.

Use the Pearson VUE website to create an account. Then schedule a date, place and time to take the exam. The exam cannot be taken online. You must go to a testing center.

Follow any health and safety guidelines listed on the Pearson VUE website.

If you do not have an active Pennsylvania notary commission when you apply to be a notary, you are required to take the notary exam. This applies to first time notaries and notaries whose commissions have expired.

All notaries, first time appointments and reappointments, are required to take 3 hours of state-approved education every 4 years.

PennDOT Questions

You may notarize any document that contains proper notary wording. Some PennDOT forms can be downloaded from PennDOT’s website. Other forms are only available to PennDOT agents.

Access to the messenger room on the 4th floor at the Riverfront Office Center (accessed through the employee entrance) is permitted via messenger badge. Calling in advance is not required.

Please review the following updates for messenger room access:

  • Messengers must wear masks within the Riverfront Office Center
  • We encourage Messengers to sort their work before coming to the Riverfront Office Center
  • Messengers should drop off and pick up work as promptly as possible
  • Cubicles are available for use
  • The 6 messenger limit no longer applies
  • Messengers should self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if they are sick
  • Work for other motor vehicle areas should still be dropped off in the messenger room
  • Messengers are limited to accessing the 4th floor messenger room only

If you have issues with access using your messenger badge, call the messenger room.

Form MV-351, “Application for Temporary Registration Plates by Motor Vehicle Dealers and Full Agents”, was revised (revision 6-20) to allow agents to choose to pick up a temporary plate order or have PennDOT mail a plate order. When an agent chooses to pick up an order, a PennDOT employee will contact the agent, after the order has been processed, to arrange a date, time and place the agent may pick up the temporary plate order at the Riverfront Office Center. Health concerns will be discussed during the call.

Orders that are not picked up will be mailed Priority through the United States Postal Service.

To check the status of a plate order email: RA-PDDASPILOT@pa.gov

eNotarization and Remote Online Notarization Questions

No, you are not required to become an electronic notary or remote online notary.

No, but recorders may accept a paper copy of a remotely notarized document, if the notary certifies that the paper copy is a true and accurate copy of the electronic record.

No, the notary fees are set by the state. You may charge additional clerical and administrative fees, if they are recorded separately in your notary journal.

Yes, there are fees for the vendors. Contact the vendors for their fee schedules.

If you are not an eNotary, the document must be printed before you notarize.

The following needs to take place:

  • The customer personally appears
  • The notary identifies the customer
  • The customer speaks to the notary:
    • Swears or affirms that the document’s content is true for a verification on oath or affirmation
    • Acknowledges their signature and intention to sign for an acknowledgment
  • The customer signs the electronic document
    • In the notary’s presence for a verification on oath or affirmation and a witnessing or attesting a signature
    • The document may be signed in advance for an acknowledgment
  • The notary prints the electronic document, before placing their official stamp and signature on the record

Wills and powers of attorney are specialized documents. PAN recommends seeking the advice of an attorney-at-law.

Certificates of title may not be notarized remotely. PennDOT has not implemented electronic titling in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania notaries who are court reporters or stenographers who participate in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings may administer oaths and affirmations by video conference as part of those proceedings. Because of the limited nature of these proceedings, where there are many safeguards in place to ensure the identity of the witness, court reporters and stenographers do not need to apply and become remote online notaries or use approved remote technology to administer oaths and affirmations remotely.

Proceedings include depositions, arbitrations and hearings that occur as part of any criminal, civil and administrative proceeding. For more information, see this announcement from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

No, your $10,000 notary bond meets the requirement of the notary law for standard face to face notarizations, electronic notarizations and remote online notarizations.

Yes, the notary needs to be physically located in Pennsylvania when performing a remote online notarization.

It is PAN’s and the Department of State’s understanding that all approved vendors use or include digital certificates in their products. However, we’ve had members tell us that they’ve needed to purchase a certificate separately when sing certain vendors’ platforms.

Yes, your approval expires at the end of your four-year notary commission or when the technology solution expires, whichever happens first. If you want to continue to notarize electronically, remotely or both, you must apply to renew that approval with the Pennsylvania Department of State. You also need to renew your agreement with an approved technology solution provider.

Witnesses may be located remotely, but they should be identified in the same manner as the remotely located customer. Also, the notary, customer and witnesses need to be able to communicate in real time using the approved audio-visual technology.

Processing times vary. If you haven’t received a response in one week, contact the Department of State.

The Pennsylvania Notary Law (RULONA) has been amended to make remote online notarization permanent.

E&O policies that cover notarizations are “silent” on how the notarization is performed. The E&O policies sold by PAN cover notarial acts if they are performed according to current notary law, rules and regulations.

Personal appearance is always required.

Traditional paper notarizations and electronic notarizations are conducted in-person. The notary and the customer need to be able to exchange identification and documentation.

For remote online notarizations, the personal appearance requirement is met when the approved notary meets online with the remotely located customer using state-approved audio-visual technology.

There are a few things to consider. Does your business:

  • Need to notarize documents that are in an electronic format?
  • Need to notarize for customers who are not in the same location as you are?
  • Have the hardware and software to create, validate and distribute electronic documents?
  • Have the resources to make an agreement with one of the electronic/remote technology providers?

With eNotarization, the notary and the customer are in the same room, within arm’s reach. They use the same computer to sign an electronic document. Remote online notarization also involves an electronic document, but takes place over the internet, using approved audio-visual technology. The notary is in one location, the customer is in another location.

To learn more, watch this video.

“This notarial act involved the use of communication technology.”

The law states, the audio-visual recording must contain “all the interactions between the notary public and the remotely located individual.” Some vendors are also including the Knowledge Based Authentication and Identification verification that takes place before the notarization takes place.

The customer needs to have a camera, microphone and internet access that allows them to communicate with the notary in real time.

You are not required to use an electronic journal. The law allows you to keep a separate journal for paper and electronic/remote notarizations. Those journals may be paper or electronic.

Visit the Department of State’s website. Then scroll down and click on the “List of Approved Electronic and Remote Notarization Solution Providers.”

The Department of State’s “The Steps to Becoming an Electronic or Remote Notary in Pennsylvania” states, the approved electronic notary logs onto the Department of State’s website to select approved electronic/remote notary technology provider(s).

The law allows the notary or an entity acting for the notary to make and keep the audio-video recording. The approved remote online notary vendors must have the ability to keep the recordings for 10 years.

Signing Agent Questions

Although we don’t provide specific education or certification for signing agents, we do assist our members through the entire process of becoming a notary...

Learn More

There is no law requiring signing agents to have specialized certification or education. However, the loan signing agent industry has certain standards. Any company you choose to work with will almost certainly require you to provide proof of signing agent education, proof of Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance, and an annual background check.

A signing agent (sometimes called a loan signing agent or a notary signing agent) is a mobile notary who is contracted by various entities, usually mortgage companies, title insurance companies, or signing service companies. The signing agent meets with borrowers to witness the signing of their loan documents. The most common loan documents involve a borrower refinancing their mortgage, but there are many other types of documents a signing agent may encounter.

COVID-19 Questions

You may make a certified copy of a vaccination card. However, the customer should check with the airline to see if they will accept a certified copy in place of the original.

It is not a notary’s responsibility to read or understand the document they are notarizing. If the document has no blank spaces and there is proper notary wording, you may notarize.