A bail bondsman is a person or company, who pledges his money or assets as bail for a person accused of committing a crime. This person acts as a surety, taking on responsibility for the debt of the criminal defendant. As bail bondsmen are typically able to secure the release of their clients in just a few hours, they are able to make a profit by charging fees of about ten percent of the amount of bail the court has set.
Meet the minimum age requirements. In the state of Pennsylvania, you'll need to be at least 18 years old to be licensed as a bail bondsman.
Have a clear criminal record. You cannot become a licensed bail bondsman if you have been convicted of a crime.
Establish an office in each county in which you plan to operate as a bail bondsman. The Insurance Department requirements simply state that you must have a suitable place of business, in a fixed location. There are no other written requirements regarding your office.
Mark your business location as a bail bondsman's office. You must obtain and display some type of marker that clearly identifies your business and what you do. This marker must be visible at each of your office locations.
Establish telephone service at your office, in your own name or in the name of the business that is licensed to act as a bail bondsman. When you or your representative answers this phone, your manner of answering must make it clear that you are running a bail bondsman office.
Make arrangements for someone to be present at your business location during business hours. This person must be available to accept service of process for you when you are not around. You must provide the Insurance Department with the name of this person when you submit your application.
Fill out a Professional Bondsman application, and submit it to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Insurance Department. You can find the application on the Insurance Department's website.
Send a $100 fee to the Insurance Department along with your application. This fee must be sent in the form of a money order or certified check. You'll have to pay $100 for each county in which you want to be licensed.
Attach required documents to your application. You'll need a notarized statement, attesting that you have met the requirements the Insurance Department has concerning your office. You'll also need a credit report, Pennsylvania criminal record report and a letter from each county's district attorney's office stating that you are not subject to any outstanding judgments or forfeitures. The credit report must be less than 31 days old.
Check the licensing requirements of the county in which you plan to operate. Some counties have specific laws that differ slightly from the statewide requirements.
Don't assume that your bondsman license cannot be revoked. It can be revoked if you are convicted of a crime, become bankrupt or insolvent, or fail to pay a judgment on a forfeited undertaking. It can also be revoked if you obtain the license fraudulently or interfere with the judicial process.