How to Become a Notary in Maine
The Application Process to Become a Notary in Maine:
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 America Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This Maine notary guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a notary in Maine
- How to become a notary in Maine
- The basic duties of a notary in Maine
What are the qualifications to become a notary in Maine?
To become a notary in Maine, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Be a resident of Maine or a resident of New Hampshire 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 state or jurisdiction in the five-year period preceding the date of the application.
- Not have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment or of a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public as defined by rule by the Secretary of State during the ten-year period preceding the date of the application for a new or renewed commission.
What is the process to become a notary in Maine?
To become a Maine notary public and receive a Maine notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Download and print from the Secretary of State’s website the Application for a Notary Public Commission.
- Take the Notarial Law and Practices Knowledge Examination, which is on Section B of the notary application form.
- Complete and sign Section C of the notary application (oath of office) in the presence of a notary public.
- Have a municipal clerk or registrar of voters of the applicant’s municipality sign and seal section D of the application.
- Have a registered Maine voter complete Section E of the application attesting the applicant’s ability to perform the duties required of a notary public.
- Complete and submit the notarized application form to the Secretary of State with a $50 application filing fee.
- Await receipt of the certificate of qualification (oath of office form).
- Within thirty days from the appointment date, be sworn into the office.
- Take the oath of office and the certificate of qualification sent by the Secretary of State to the dedimus justice. Go to http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/notary/index.html and select Notary/Dedimus Search to locate a dedimus justice in your area.
- Mail the notarized certificate of qualification to the Secretary of State within 45 days of the date of appointment.
- The Secretary of State will then mail the applicant the certificate of qualification proving that he or she is commissioned as a Maine notary.
If the notary applicant fails to be sworn into office by a dedimus justice within thirty days and/or the certificate of qualification is not received by the Secretary of State within 45 days of the date of appointment, the notary public commission is suspended. Therefore, the notary applicant must contact the Secretary of State’s office to obtain a new certificate of qualification to obtain a valid appointment. Subsequently, the notary applicant should not order any notary supplies until he or she receives the certificate of qualification from the Secretary of State. To initiate the notary public application process, visit the Secretary of State’s website.
How do I renew my notary commission in Maine?
A Maine notary public must complete the renewal process online within 45 days before his or her current commission expires or within twenty days after the commission expires. The Department of the Secretary of State sends a notice of renewal approximately six weeks before a notary public’s commission expires.
The renewal application process is the same as for the initial application for appointment as a notary public except the application and exam must be completed online on the Secretary of State’s website. While taking the examination, an applicant will not be able to move to the next question until a correct response is provided. After completing the examination portion of the renewal process, the applicant will be required to print the documentation relating to the renewal.
Who appoints notaries in Maine?
The Maine Department of the Secretary of States receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains an electronic database of active notaries. To contact the Department of the Secretary of State, use the following information:
Can a non-resident become a notary in Maine?
Yes. A resident of the adjacent state of New Hampshire can become a Maine notary public if he or she meets the same qualification to become a notary in Maine and is regularly employed or carries out a trade or business in the state of Maine. The applicant should complete a non-resident application and follow the same steps to apply as a resident notary applicant. In addition, the non-resident notary applicant must complete an affidavit of employment form and the affidavit of employer form.
Very Important: If the non-resident Maine notary public is terminated from his or her place of employment or is no longer carrying on a trade or business in the state of Maine, he or she must resign and destroy his or her notary stamp. It is also recommended that the resigning notary submit his or her notary journal to the Secretary of State.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Maine?
The commission term of a Maine notary public is seven years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. The commission term for a New Hampshire resident notary public is four years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:
- By resignation, death, or revocation.
- By suspension for official misconduct in Maine.
- When a notary public is no longer a resident of Maine during the notary’s commission term.
- When a New Hampshire resident notary public ceases to be regularly employed or carry on a trade or business in Maine.
- When a notary public fails to demonstrate proficiency in the English language.
- When a notary has been convicted of a crime.
Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Maine?
Yes. New applicants for appointment as a notary public are required to take an examination when completing the paper notary application. However, renewing notaries public are required to take the exam online on the Secretary of State’s website.
A notary applicant may download the Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide that has information related to the notary exam.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Maine?
A Maine notary applicant’s expenses include the following:
- A $50 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
- A fee to have a Maine notary public notarize your notary application.
- If a notary public wishes to adhere to the recommendations of the Secretary of State, the cost of an official stamp/seal to authenticate all notarial acts and a journal to record all notarial acts performed.
- The fee for an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability.
Is a notary errors and omissions insurance policy required to become a notary in Maine?
No. An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Maine. It is not mandatory to have E&O insurance when applying for appointment as a notary public. However, the American Association of Notaries recommends that Maine notaries obtain errors and omissions insurance policies for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other type of loss to the public or from a client who sues the notary public for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Maine notary selects.
Is a notary bond required to become a notary in Maine?
No. All new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries public are not required by state notary statute to obtain a notary bond to be appointed or reappointed as a notary public in the state of Maine.
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Maine?
No. The Maine notary statute does not require notaries public to use an official notary stamp to authenticate all their notarial acts. It is optional for notaries public in the state of Maine to use an embossing or ink seal or stamp to authenticate their official acts.
Required Elements: Section 951 states that 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 word “Maine,” the abbreviation “ME,” or the Great Seal of the State of Maine. The Secretary of State recommends the use of the words rather than the Great Seal, as it is easier to identity the state of the notary public commission.
Note: The Secretary of State highly recommends that Maine notaries use a notary seal on documents leaving Maine. A notary public may use an embossed seal or an inked rubber stamp to authenticate a notarial act. When a notary public who has obtained an official notary seal resigns, or the notary public's commission is revoked or expires, the notary public or his or her heirs shall destroy the official seal or send it to the Secretary of State for destruction. The Secretary of State recommends that Maine notaries keep in mind that using an embossing or ink seal does not eliminate the other requirements for a proper notarization such as providing a “statement of what the notary public has done (an acknowledgment or jurat statement), the official signature of the notary public, the commission expiration date, and the date when the notarization was performed” (Maine Secretary of State Notary Public Handbook).
How much can a Maine notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
The Maine notary statute does not provide a statutory fee schedule that sets forth the maximum allowable fees that Maine notaries public may charge for their notarial services. The only statutory reference to fees is found in 4 MRSA Section 958, which specifies a charge of $1.50 in the course of a lawsuit to provide for the notification of parties, making of a certificate, and recording the proceedings. Maine notaries are permitted to charge a reasonable and fair fee for their notarial services. Notaries public who charge for their notarial services should establish a fee structure or schedule so that persons seeking their notarial services will have some predictability or assurance of the notarial fee.
Is a notary journal required in Maine?
No. However, Maine notaries public are required to keep a record of every marriage performed. The Secretary of State recommends that every notary public keep and maintain records of all notarial acts performed (19-A MRSA Section 654). Additionally, a notary public must keep a log of petitions for which they administered the circulator’s oath, listing the title of the petition, the name of the circulator taking the oath, the date of the oath and the number of petition forms signed and verified by the circulator that day (21-A, section 902).
The Secretary of State strongly believes that record keeping is the best way to ensure the proper conduct of notaries public, both to help protect them and to prevent fraud. Notaries public are protected when their notary journals are well-maintained with clear and concise documentation that proper notarial procedures were followed in the performance of their notarial acts. Accurate record keeping is especially important when a number of years have lapsed since the notarial act was performed.
The Secretary of State recommends that Maine notaries:
- record in their journal the notarial specifics for each notarial act performed;
- not take a finger or thumb print as part of a notarial record in their journal;
- record in the journal any time the notary refused to act and the circumstances surrounding that refusal;
- furnish, when requested by an authority, a certified copy of any public record in the notary's journal;
- allow the inspection of their journals in their presence by any individual whose identity is proven on the basis of satisfactory evidence and who specifies the notarial act to be examined;
- not surrender their journals and/or records to another notary public or to an employer;
- retain their journals for seven years after expiration of the last commission during which an entry was made in the journal; and
- have their journals delivered or mailed to the Secretary of State in the event of death.
As a protective measure against liability, the American Association of Notaries highly recommends that all Maine notaries public record their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with consecutively numbered pages designed to deter fraud.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Maine?
A Maine notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Maine.
What notarial acts can a Maine notary public perform?
A Maine notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts:
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Solemnize marriages
- Certify affidavits
- Protest instruments
- Certify copies of private documents
Can I perform electronic notarizations in Maine?
The State of Maine has not yet adopted statutes or regulations that establish rules, guidelines, standards, and procedures for electronic notarization. However, Maine enacted the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (Title 10 MRSA §9401 through §9420), including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by notaries public in Maine. 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.” For the performance of a notarial act in Maine, the document signer must personally and physically appear before the notary public and be close enough to see, hear, communicate with, and give identification credentials to the notary without the use of any form of electronic device such as video conferencing or similar video technology. In Maine, there are no exceptions to the “personal appearance” requirement for the proper execution of a notarization.
Can I perform remote online notarizations in Maine?
Yes, but only temporarily. The State of Maine enacted H.P. 1033, which, among other things, temporarily extends the state’s remote notarization provisions until January 1, 2023. H.P. 1033 substantially continues the effects of Executive Order 37 FY 19/20 (EO 37), which, in part, temporarily authorized remote notarizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that was set to expire thirty days after the termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
Additionally, H.P. 1033 directs the Secretary of State to conduct a study on remote and online notarizations, develop recommendations for their permanent implementation, and submit a report to the state legislature by February 1, 2022.
Executive Order 37 (2020) temporarily authorizes Maine notaries to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals using video conference technologies during the COVID-19 state of emergency. This order applies to all provisions of the Maine statutes that require a signature to be acknowledged, witnessed, or notarized in person, with the exceptions of:
- solemnizing marriages, which notaries in Maine may perform;
- administering oaths to circulators of state or local direct initiatives or legislation; or
- referendum petitions and nomination petitions of candidates for electoral office and absentee ballots in state and local elections.
This order authorizes remote notarization, not electronic notarization, and requires the notary public to be physically within Maine while performing the notarial act. For more information with regard to the rules on remote notarizations, click here.
How do I become a remote online notary in Maine?
The act of notarization or witnessing required by Maine statutes may be completed remotely via two-way audio-video communication technology provided that:
1. The notary public is physically within the state of Maine while performing the notarial act and follows any additional guidance for remote notarization issued by the Secretary of State.
2. The two-way audio-video communication technology allows direct contemporaneous interaction, by sight and sound in real time, between the document signer, the notary public, and any witness.
3. The signatory can be reasonably identified by the notary public by one of the following methods:
- the notary’s personal knowledge of the signatory;
- a valid photo identification presented to the notary during the video conference; or
- identification upon the oath or affirmation of a witness who is in the physical presence of either the notary or the signatory or who is able to communicate with the notary public and the signatory simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process at the time of the notarization, if the witness has personal knowledge of the individual and has been reasonably identified by the notary public.
4. The signatory must attest to being physically located in Maine and affirmatively state the name of the county in which he or she is located at the time of execution during the two-way audio-video communication.
5. The notary public and any witness must attest to being physically located in Maine during the two-way audio-video communication.
6. For wills and powers of attorney, the notary or at least one witness must be an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Maine.
7. Before any documents are signed, the notary public must be able to view by camera the entire space in which the signatory and any witness is located, and any person who is present in those spaces must state his or her name while on video and in clear view of the notary.
8. The signatory must affirmatively state on the two-way audio-video communication what document he or she is signing, and the notary public must be provided with a copy of the document prior to the signing.
9. Each page of the document being witnessed must be shown to the notary public and any witness on the two-way audio-video communication in a means clearly legible to the notary and initialed by the signatory in the presence of the notary and any witness.
10. The act of signing and initialing must be captured sufficiently up close on the two-way audio-video communication for the notary public to observe.
11. Any witness or witnesses required or permitted to properly execute any original document or documents according to Maine statutes may similarly witness the signing of the document by the signatory utilizing two-way audio-video communication and may sign as a witness to the document upon receipt of the original document.
12. The signatory must transmit by fax or electronic means (which may include transmitting a photograph of every page by cellphone) a legible copy of the entire signed document directly to the notary and any witness immediately after signing the document, or, if that is not possible, no later than 24 hours after the signatory's execution of the document.
13. The signatory must send the original signed document directly to the witness within 48 hours (or two days) after the signatory's execution of the document, or to the notary public if no witness is involved.
14. Within 48 hours after receiving the original document from the signatory, the witness must sign it and send it to the second witness, if any, or to the notary public if no other witness is involved. The official date and time of each witness's signature shall be the date and time when the witness witnessed the signatory's signature via the two-way audio-video communication technology.
15. Upon review of the original document and satisfactory comparison with the faxed or electronic document provided on the date of signing, the notary public shall notarize the original document within 48 hours of receipt thereof, and the official date and time of the notarization shall be the date and time when the notary public witnessed the signature via the two-way audio-video technology. Additionally, the document shall include the following language below the notary public and or witness signature lines: "Notarized (and/or witnessed) remotely, in accordance with Executive Order 37 FY 19/20."
16. A recording of the two-way audio-video communication must be made and preserved by the notary public for a period of at least five years from the date of the notarial act. The Notary shall provide a copy of the recording to the signatory and the Secretary of State upon request.
Note: This revised statute does not require a notary public to perform remote notarizations. To reiterate, HP 1033 extends the temporary authority given to Maine notaries public to perform remote notarizations for remotely located individuals until January 1, 2023. To inquire whether the Secretary of State has issued the guidance consistent with HP 1033 for the remote notarization process, visit the Secretary of State's website.
How do I update my address with the Maine Secretary of State?
If a notary’s legal, mailing, physical (if applicable), or email address, or any other contact information contained in the file with the Secretary of State has changed, the notary public must update his or her information online at the notify the Secretary of State’s website.
How do I change my name on my notary commission in Maine?
If a change occurs to the name of the notary public on file with the Secretary of State, the notary public must notify the Secretary of State within ten days of the date of the name change. There is no fee to update a notary public’s commission information. To update a notary’s commission certificate, go to the Secretary of State's website.
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 on 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 this 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 states if they have legal questions about how to perform notarial acts.
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.