Notary Duties


    An acknowledgment is a statement attached to a document declaring that the person who signed the instrument is the person mentioned therein and that that person did sign the document.


    Attest means to bear witness to. To declare a document to be true or genuine is to attest to its authenticity. When a witness signs a legal document, such as a will, at the request of the maker, it is an act of attestation.


    To verify; endorse.


    The jurat is the clause written at the foot of an affidavit that states when, where, and before whom an affidavit was sworn. It is a certificate of proof or acknowledgment.


    Any form of attestation or pledge by which a person signifies that he or she is bound in conscience and out of a sense of responsibility to a Supreme Being to the truthfulness for some statement. Willfully swearing to untrue statements constitutes perjury.


    Establish the truth, accuracy or reality of.

A) Power to Administer Oaths and Affirmations

Notaries shall have power to administer oaths and affirmations, according to law, in all matters belonging or incident to the exercise of their notarial office.  Any person who shall be convicted of having willfully and knowingly made or taken a false oath or affirmation before any notary in any matters within their official duties shall be guilty of perjury and shall be subject to the penalties in such case made and provided.

B)  Power to Take Acknowledgment of Instruments of Writing Relating to Commerce or Navigation and to Make Declarations

Notaries shall have the power to receive the proof of acknowledgment of all instruments of writing relating to commerce or navigation, such as bills of sales, bottomries, mortgages and hypothecations of ships or vessels, charter parties or affreightment, letters of  attorney, and such other writings as have been usually proved or acknowledged before notaries within this commonwealth, and also to make declarations and testify the truth thereof, under their seals of office, concerning all matters by them done in virtue of their respective office.    

C) Register, Copies or Records

    (a)  Every notary public shall keep an accurate register of all official acts by him/her done by virtue of his/her office, and shall, when thereunto required, give a certified copy of any record in his/her office to any person applying for same.  Said register shall contain the date of the act, the character of the act, the date and parties to the instrument, and the amount of fee collected for the service.

     (b)  The register and other public papers of such notary shall not in any case be liable to be seized, attached or taken in execution for debt or for any demand whatsoever.

D)  Power to Take Depositions, Affidavits and Acknowledgment of Writings Relative to Lands

Notaries shall have power to take depositions and affidavits, to take and receive the acknowledgment or proof of all deeds, conveyances, mortgages, or other instruments or writing touching or concerning any lands, tenements or hereditaments, situate, lying and being in any part of this State.

E)  section 19. (57 ps 165) lIMITATION ON POWERS, FEEs

     (a)  No district justice, holding at the same time the office of notary public, shall have jurisdiction in cases arising on papers or documents containing acts by him done the in the office of notary public.

     (b)  No notary public may act as such in any transaction in which he is a party directly or pecuniarily interested.  For the purpose of this section, none of the following shall constitute a direct or pecuniary interest:

     (1)  being a shareholder in a publicly traded company that is a party to the notarized transaction;

     (2)  being an officer, director or employee of a company that is a party to the notarized transaction, unless the director, officer or employee personally benefits from the transaction other than as provided in clause;

     (3)  receiving a fee that is not contingent upon the completion of the notarized transaction.

F)  Fees Of Notaries Public

     The fees of notaries public shall be fixed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth with the approval of the Attorney General.


Executing affidavits (regardless of number of signatures)


Executing acknowledgments


In executing acknowledgments, each additional name


Executing certificates (per certified copy)


Administering oaths (per individual taking an oath)


Taking depositions (per page)


Executing verifications


Making protests (per page)


* New Fee

       *  A notary public shall not charge, attempt to charge or receive a notary public fee that is in excess of the fees fixed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. (Section 21 (b))       

G) Prohibited Acts

1) A notary public may not use a name or initial in signing certificates other than that by which the notary public is commissioned. A notary public may not notarize his/her own signature.

 2)  A notary public may not affix his or her signature to a blank form of affidavit or certificate of acknowledgment and deliver that form to another person with the intent that it be used as an affidavit or acknowledgment.

 3) A notary public may not take the acknowledgment of or administer an oath to a person whom the notary public actually knows to have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated by a court of competent jurisdiction, where the acknowledgment or oath necessitates the exercise of a right that has been removed or (3), and where the person has not been restored to capacity as a matter of record.

 4) A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if it appears that the person is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the document at the time of notarization.

 5) A notary public may not take the acknowledgment of a person who does not speak or understand the English language, unless the nature and effect of the instrument to be notarized is translated into a language which the person does understand.

 6) A notary public may not change anything in a written instrument after it has been signed by anyone.

 7) A notary public may not amend a notarial certificate after the notarization is complete.

 8) A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the person whose signature is being notarized is not in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature is notarized.

 9) A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the document is incomplete or blank. However, an endorsement or assignment in blank of a negotiable or nonnegotiable note and the assignment in blank of any instrument given as security for such note is not deemed incomplete.

10) A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the notary public has a direct or pecuniary interest in or is a party to the underlying transaction; however, a notary public who is an employee may notarize a signature for his or her employer, and this employment does not constitute a direct or pecuniary interest in the transaction nor make the notary a party to the transaction under this subsection as long as he or she does not receive a benefit other than his or her salary and the fee for services as a notary public authorized by law.  For purposes of this section, a notary public who is an attorney does not have a direct or pecuniary interest in and is not a party to the underlying transaction evidenced by a notarized document if he or she notarizes a signature on that document for a client for whom he or she serves as an attorney of record and he or she has no interest in the document other than the fee paid to him or her for legal services and the fee authorized by law for services as a notary public.


    Do not notarize a photograph. Do not notarize a copy of a birth certificate, or any other vital record or public record.

    Do not certify a translation of a document from one language into another.

    Do not provide signature guarantees. This duty is usually performed by officials in the banking and securities industry.

    Do not certify the authenticity of objects, such as art or sports memorabilia.

    Do not judge contests or certify contest results.

    Do not certify a person's residency or citizenship status.

    Do not prepare legal documents, or immigration papers, unless you are an attorney licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Occasionally, you may be asked to "notarize" a photograph. Please be aware that certifying or notarizing photographs is not an authorized notarial act. You may, however, notarize a person's signature on a written statement concerning the photograph.


When necessary to correct information already printed in the notarial certificate, i.e., the date, the name of the person whose signature is being notarized, do not use correction fluid. Simply mark through the incorrect information and make the change before you complete the notarization. You should probably initial that change, also.

Once you "complete" the notarization and return it to the document signer, you may not amend your certificate. For instance, if you forgot to state the type of identification or affix your seal and the document is returned to you on a later date by the receiving party, you may not correct your error. The document will require re-notarization, including the presence of the document signer. 

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