As the Pennsylvania Electronic Notarization Initiative enters its third year, notaries who are looking to be approved as eNotaries have to follow certain procedures.
First, you must be appointed as a notary in Pennsylvania and not have had any criminal or disciplinary actions taken against you since you were commissioned. Then to become an eNotary, you must do the following:
- Send your application to the Department of State. You can get an application from the secretary’s Web site at http://www.dos.state.pa.us/notaries. Click on the electronic notarization link and then click the link for the Electronic Notary Application and Instructions. You must fill out the application online, and then you must print out the completed application and sign it in ink. Attach a $40 check to the application and mail it to the Department at the address printed on the form. The application cannot be sent to the Department by E-mail—it must be sent via postal mail.The application does not require an endorsement from your senator and proof of education. You must provide a valid E-mail address because notices will be sent to you via E-mail.
- The Department will then send you an approval letter authorizing you to participate in the Initiative. You will receive the letter via U.S. Mail.
- You will receive an E-mail message from the registration authority. The authority will ask for an electronic payment of $24.95 for your digital certificate. This is a fee mandated by the State Department and you cannot pay with a check. Payment must be made electronically with a credit card.
- Take your authorization letter and satisfactory identification (a driver’s license or a passport for example) to the recorder of deeds’ office in one of the following 19 counties:
- Berks, Chester, Lancaster, Lackawanna, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Westmoreland, Allegheny, Beaver, Blair, Bucks, Centre, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Perry and Snyder.
- The first seven counties, Berks Chester, Lancaster Lackawanna, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Westmoreland are full participants in the initiative. Full participation involves functioning as an Identity Verification Site as well as providing statistics and other information to the Department about the recorder’s electronic recording program on a monthly basis. The other 12 counties are participating as Identity Verification Sites only. These counties will verify the identity of individuals applying to become electronic notaries as part of the approval process.
- As Identity Verification Sites approved Pennsylvania notaries appear in person at the county recorder’s office and present documentation of approval and satisfactory evidence of identity. An authorized employee enters the identification information for the notary into a shared database so the notary can continue the process of receiving the electronic certificate.
- You will receive an E-mail from the authority telling you how to download the digital certificate.
- Call the registration authority to receive your Personal Identification Number (PIN). For security reasons and since no one else can have access to your digital certificate you should change the PIN once the certificate is downloaded.
- You can now download your digital certificate. You can store the certificate on the hard drive of your computer or on a remote server. Where you store the certificate will depend upon your company’s policies or on the particular software you use.
Once you download the electronic certificate you can electronically notarize documents. Your approval and digital certificate are good for one year. After expiration of the one-year approval, you must renew your approval with the Department of State and obtain another digital certificate. The $24.95 fee for the certificate still applies. After the initial approval you need only apply when the full year on the digital certificate is coming to an end or when your underlying notary commission comes to an end.
You must complete these steps within 45 days of the date of your approval as an eNotary. The authorization letter from the Department will give you the date when the steps must be completed. If you fail to complete all of the steps within this time frame, you must begin the process for approval again.