How to Become a Maine Notary
The Maine Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Maine notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Maine notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Maine appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Maine is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Maine notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a Maine notary
- The process to become a Maine notary
- Basic Maine notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a Maine notary?
To become a notary in Maine, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years old or older
- Be a resident of Maine or a resident of an adjacent state who is regularly employed or carries on a trade or business in Maine
- Be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language
- Not have had a notary commission revoked or been suspended for official misconduct in Maine or any other jurisdiction in the five-year period preceding the date of the application
- Not have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for one year or more, or of a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public during the ten-years preceding the date of the application for a new or renewed commission
What is the process to become a Maine notary?
In order to become a Maine notary and receive a Maine notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Pass a written exam, which is part of the application for appointment form.
- Obtain the signature of a registered Maine voter who can attest to the applicant’s ability to perform the duties required of a notary public.
- Obtain the signature and seal of the Municipal Clerk or Registrar of Voters of the applicant’s municipality who will verify the applicant’s residency on the application form.
- Complete and submit the notarized application for appointment form to the Secretary of State with a $50 application filing fee.
- Take the oath of office and the Certificate of Qualification sent by the Secretary of State to be sworn into office by a dedimus justice within thirty days from the date of appointment.
- Send the notarized Certificate of Qualification to the Secretary of State within 45 days from the date of appointment.
To download the application for appointment form, go to - http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/notary/notaries.html
Can a non-resident become a notary in Maine?
Yes. A resident of New Hampshire can become a Maine notary public if the person (1) meets the qualifications as a Maine resident; (2) is regularly employed or carries on a trade or business in Maine; (3) submits an application for appointment form for New Hampshire residents; (4) submits a $50 application fee; (5) follows the same initial application for appointment process as a Maine resident; (6) submits an Affidavit of Employment-Applicant and an Affidavit of Employer-Employer if employed by a business in Maine; or (7) submits a Self-Employed Affidavit form if self-employed in Maine.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Maine?
To become a notary public in Maine, a notary applicant’s required expenses include the following: (1) a $50filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; and (2) a journal to record all marriages performed. Based on the notary’s wishes, additional expenses may include the purchase of: (1) a surety bond; (2) a journal to record all notarial acts performed; (3) a notary seal; and (4) an errors and omissions insurance policy for the notary’s protection against liability.
How do I renew my Maine notary commission?
Maine notaries must complete the renewal process online within 45 days before their current commission expires or within twenty days after the commission expires. The Secretary of State sends a notice of renewal approximately six weeks before a commission expires. All persons seeking to renew a notary public commission must use the online renewal process and pay a $50 renewal fee and pass a thirty-question examination, which is part of the application form. After completing the examination portion of the renewal process, the applicant will be required to print the documentation relating to the renewal. To complete the renewal process, the applicant must (1) have the renewal application notarized; (2) have the municipal clerk or registrar of voters verify the applicant’s residency on the renewal application; (3) appear before a dedimus justice to take the oath of office; and (4) return the notarized application and certificate of qualification to the Secretary of State by the deadline. To begin the renewal application process online, go to: https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/notary/total/index.pl
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Maine notary public or to renew my Maine notary public commission?
Yes. New applicants and renewing notaries must pass a notary examination prescribed by the Secretary of State, which is part of the application for appointment or reappointment form. Renewing notaries are required to take an online notary examination that includes thirty questions covering a variety of areas relating to Maine notarial laws and practices. While taking the examination, if the renewing notary provides an incorrect response, the notary may review the online handbook and adjust the response accordingly. A renewing notary will not be able to move to the next question until a correct response is provided. The Secretary of State provides study materials upon request without charge.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Maine?
Yes. The state of Maine has not yet adopted statutes or regulations that establish rules, guidelines, standards, and procedures for electronic notarization. However, Maine has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by Maine notaries. Section 9411 states, “If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.” Most importantly, Maine state law requires that a document signer personally appear before a Maine notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or video conferences during the entire performance of the notarial act. A notarization cannot be performed via video conferencing or similar video technology.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Maine?
The term of office of a Maine notary public is seven years, commencing on the date specified in the commission. The term for a nonresident notary public is four years, commencing on the date specified in the commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when the notary public ceases to reside in Maine; or (5) when a nonresident notary ceases to be regularly employed or carry on a trade or business in Maine.
Is a Maine notary bond required to become a notary in Maine?
No. A bond is not required by law to become a notary public in Maine.
Do I need a Maine notary errors and omission insurance?
While optional in Maine, errors and omission insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial damages to the public or a document signer. The American Association of Notaries encourages Maine notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for their protection against liability.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Maine?
A Maine notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in Maine. Likewise, a Maine notary may not perform notarial acts outside of Maine.
Who appoints Maine notaries public?
The Maine Secretary of State appoints Maine notaries public.
Contact information for the Secretary of State is as follows:
Secretary of State
Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions
Notary Public Section
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Maine?
Optional. Maine notary statutes do not require Maine notaries public to use a notary seal to authenticate all notarial acts performed. However, Section 951 states, “A notary public may keep a seal of office, engraved with:
- The notary public’s name exactly as it appears on the notary public’s commission
- The words “Notary Public”
- The words “Maine” or its abbreviation “ME” with the arm of state or such other device as the notary public chooses.
Note: The Secretary of State highly recommends that Maine notaries use a notary seal on documents leaving Maine. A Maine notary public may use an embossed seal or an inked rubber stamp to authenticate a notarial act.
Is a notary journal required in Maine?
Yes. However, Maine notaries are only required to record in a journal all marriages performed. The Secretary of State recommends that every notary public keep and maintain records of all notarial acts performed (§995-B). The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that all Maine notaries record every notarial act performed in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages, designed to deter fraud as a protective measure against liability. For Maine notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call (800) 721-2663.
How much can a Maine notary charge for performing notarial acts?
The Maine notary statutes do not provide a statutory fee schedule that sets forth the maximum allowable notary fees that a Maine notary public may charge for notarial acts; however, Maine notaries are permitted to charge a reasonable and fair fee for their notarial services. Maine notaries who charge for their notarial services should establish a fee structure or schedule so that persons seeking their notarial services will be able to predict the notarial fee.
What notarial acts can a Maine notary public perform?
A Maine notary public is authorized to perform these notarial acts:
- Take acknowledgments
- Take oaths and affirmations
- Solemnize marriages
- Certify affidavits
- Protest instruments
- Certify copies of private documents
- Witness election petitions and absentee ballots
- Issue subpoenas
- Call meetings
How do I update my address for my Maine notary commission?
A Maine notary public whose residence changes during the term of the notary’s commission is required to submit a written notice to the Secretary of State within ten days of the change. Maine notaries may also update their address or other contact information by using the Total Notary Solution-Online Renewal and Profile Update Service. To update a notary’s profile information, go to: https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/notary/total/index.pl.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Maine?
A Maine notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of the notary’s commission is required to provide a written notice to the Secretary of State within ten days from the date of the name change. With this notice, the notary must: (1) provide proof of the name change through a copy of an appropriate document such as a marriage license, divorce decree, or probate court document; (2) submit a request for a new commission with the new name if the notary wishes to have a new commission; (3) submit to the Secretary of State his or her current commission; and (4) submit a Notice of Change in Official Notarial Signature form. To update a notary’s profile information, go to: https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/notary/total/index.pl.
A Maine notary public, or his or her representative, should send a written notice to the Secretary of State if the notary: (1) no longer maintains residence in Maine during the term of the commission; (2) no longer wishes to hold the office of notary public; (3) is deceased; (4) is duty-bound to resign by court order or the Secretary of State’s revocation process; or (5) for non-resident notaries, is no longer regularly employed or no longer carries on a trade or business in Maine. In all of the above-referenced situations, the notary seal must be destroyed immediately or sent to the Secretary of State for destruction (§951). The notary’s records must be forwarded to the Secretary of State, especially upon a notary’s resignation or removal from office as a notary public.
Prohibited Maine notarial acts
These activities by a Maine notary public provide a basis for administrative disciplinary action:
- Preparing, drafting, selecting, or giving legal advice concerning documents
- Performing acts that constitute the practice of law
- Claiming to have powers, qualifications, rights, or privileges that the office of notary public does not authorize, including the power to counsel on immigration matters
- Notarizing a document that does not contain a notarial certificate
- Using the title “notario” or “notario publico” when advertising notarial services
- Notarizing a document without the signer being in the notary’s presence at the time of the notarization
- Notarizing a document if the signer of the document is not personally known to the notary or identified by the notary through satisfactory evidence of identity
- Performing notarial acts that are not valid
- Notarizing his or her own signature
- Signing a notarial certificate under any other name than the one under which the notary was commissioned
- Notarizing a notarial certificate containing information known or believed by the notary to be false
- Charging notarial fees for notary services that are unreasonable or unfair
- Using a signature stamp to notarize documents
- Using the notary’s official seal or official title to promote or endorse a product, service, or contest
- Performing a notarial act if the notary knows or suspects it is illegal, false, or deceptive
- Certifying copies of public documents
- Acting both as a witness and as a notary for the same transaction
- Notarizing a document when the notary has a beneficial interest or conflict of interest in the document
- Performing or making meaningless or frivolous notarizations
- Notarizing for family members such as a spouse, parent, sibling, child, spouse's parent, spouse's sibling, spouse's child or child's spouse
- Notarizing a document when the notary is a party to the document or transaction for which the notarial act was required
- Notarizing incomplete documents or documents with blanks
Official notarial misconduct:
Maine notaries public, who commit official malfeasance, may be subject to criminal liability, civil liability, and administrative disciplinary action for any of the following unlawful activities:
§ 807-B. Authorized immigration and nationality law assistance §960. Advertisement of services Represent or advertise or provide notice in any way or manner, including, but not limited to, the assertion of a title or credential such as “notario,” “immigration consultant,” “immigration agent,” “immigration assistant” or “attorney,” that could cause a customer to believe that the provider of immigration and nationality law assistance is authorized to practice law in the state or possesses special skill or expertise in immigration and nationality law matters unless the provider is an attorney admitted to and in good standing before the bar of the state or is a federally authorized immigration representative.
Civil violation. A violation of this section constitutes a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $5,000 may be adjudged.
Civil action. In addition to any other remedy that may be available, a customer who is aggrieved by a violation of this section may initiate a civil action in the Superior Court against the violator for injunctive relief or damages or both. If the court finds a violation of this section, the court may award to the customer: A. An amount equal to actual damages sustained by the customer as a result of the violation; B. An amount equal to three times the actual damages; and C. The costs of the action together with reasonable attorney’s fees as determined by the court.
§957. Injury or concealment of records. Whoever knowingly destroys, defaces, or conceals such records forfeits not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 and is liable for damages to any person injured in a civil action.
§451. Perjury. 1. A person is guilty of perjury if he makes: A. In any official proceeding, a false material statement under oath or affirmation, or swears or affirms the truth of a material statement previously made, and he does not believe the statement to be true; or B. Inconsistent material statements, in the same official proceeding, under oath or affirmation, both within the period of limitations, one of which statements is false and not believed by him to be true. Perjury is a Class C crime.
§452. False swearing. False swearing is a Class D crime.
Maine notary laws and regulations:
Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 19, “Notaries Public”
Maine Revised Statutes Annotated,Title 4, Chapter 22, “Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgments Act”
Code of Maine Rules, Office of the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions (29-250), Chapter 700, “Rules Governing the Eligibility and Procedures for Appointment and Renewal of Commissions of Notaries Public”
Maine notarial certificates:
Click here to view Maine’s notarial certificates.
Revised: January 2018
Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.