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April 27, 2014

Governments Should Collect All Their PDF Forms Online

In one of the most paper centric industries, governments (federal, state, and local) should be focused on finding ways to reduce the amount of paper that moves through their offices.  Not only from an environmental standpoint, but also for efficiency and costs savings across all levels of government.  Most agencies have done a really good job of making forms available for download from their website, but very few actually allow you to fill out forms online and pay online.  Most require you to print off the PDF form, fill it out, and then mail it along with payment.

By using a combination of an online form and WebMerge to generate the PDF form with all the information that the office needs, governments can cut processing times down to hours instead of weeks as well as providing an easier way for constituents to fill out those forms.

In this example, we are going to show how the California government could accept new business registration forms online, collect payment, and provide immediate feedback.  We are going to setup a quick Formstack form to collect the business information and process the credit card payment.  After that we’ll connect that up with WebMerge to generate the PDF and email it to the office.

The first step will be to setup our PDF in WebMerge.  We’re going to create a new WebMerge document and upload the Articles of Organization for an LLC (Form LLC-1). 


After we have the PDF uploaded, we have to setup the signature embed so that it automatically shows up on the PDF.  From the Manage File tab, click the Enable button next to the “Embed Images in the PDF”.  We have to position the signature image with X and Y coordinates on the PDF, so it may take some testing, but here is that we came up with for this PDF.


Now that we have our document setup, let’s jump over to Formstack and build the online form to collect the information for the PDF.  This is going to be a pretty simple form, collecting all the necessary info for the PDF and then at the bottom we’ll collect the payment information.


Once we have the form built, let’s add the WebMerge integration so that the PDF will automatically be generated and emailed to the correct department.  Under Settings > Integration Hub > Documents you can add the WebMerge integration and then enter your API Key and API Secret.  This will then load a list of your documents.  Go ahead and pick the Form LLC-1 from the dropdown and that will load the fields in that PDF.  Map the fields from the PDF to the corresponding fields on your form and that’s it!


Now, simply submit a test submission of the Formstack form and you should receive a PDF with all of the information already filled out and ready to go.  How’s that for easy and efficient?


This is a great example of how government agencies can quickly and easily increase their efficiency for approving forms and reduce costs across every department.  What other forms can your agency put online and make it easy for people to fill out and submit directly to you without having to print and mail?

4 min read

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