How to Become a Maine Notary
The Maine Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Maine notary public? 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 guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a Maine notary
- The process to become a Maine notary
- Basic Maine notarial duties
What are the qualifications to become a Maine notary?
To become a Maine notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age 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 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.
- Have satisfactorily completed a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State to determine the fitness of the person to exercise the functions of the office of notary public.
What is the process to become a Maine notary?
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.
- 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 to 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 of the date of appointment.
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 notarial supplies until he or she receives the appointee’s certificate of office mailed by the Secretary of State. To initiate the notary public application process, visit the Secretary of State’s website at: http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/notary/notaries.html
Can a non-resident become a notary in Maine?
Yes. A resident of an adjacent state of New Hampshire can become a Maine notary public if the resident meets the following statutory requirements (5 MRSA §82[B]). A New Hampshire resident must:
- Be regularly employed or carry on a trade or business in the state of Maine at the time of appointment.
- Satisfy the same qualifications as Maine residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
- Pass an online notary examination, which is part of the application for a notary public commission for a New Hampshire resident.
- Submit an Application for a Notary Public Commission for a New Hampshire Resident to the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.
- Submit a $50 application fee.
- Follow the same initial application for appointment process as Maine residents.
- Submit with the application for a Maine notary public commission a completed and notarized “Affidavit of Employment - Applicant” and an “Affidavit of Employment - Employer” form if regularly employed by a business in Maine.
- Submit with the application for a Maine notary public commission a completed and notarized “Affidavit of Self-Employment” form if self-employed in Maine.
- Continuously maintain a place of employment or carry on a trade or business in Maine.
- Relinquish his or her notary public commission if the non-resident 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 by returning the commission certificate and notary seal to the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.
To download an “Application for a Notary Public Commission for a New Hampshire Resident” form to initiate the application process for a Maine notary public commission, visit the Secretary of State website at Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions (maine.gov).
How much does it cost to become a notary in Maine?
A Maine notary applicant’s expenses include the following:
1. A $50 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
2. The price of a journal to record all marriages performed.
3. If a notary public wishes to adhere to the recommendations of the Secretary of State, the cost of a surety bond, an official stamp/seal to authenticate all notarial acts, and a journal to record all notarial acts performed.
4. The fee for an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability.
How do I renew my Maine notary commission?
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 Secretary of State requires a notary public to renew his or her commission by: (1) using the Total Notary Solution - Online Renewal; (2) paying a $50 renewal fee; and (3) passing a thirty-question examination, which is part of the application form.
The renewal application process is the same as for the initial application for appointment as a notary public. 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.
To complete the renewal application process, the applicant must (1) appear before a notary public to have his or her renewal application notarized; (2) have the municipal clerk or registrar of voters verify the applicant’s residency in Maine 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. If a notary public’s renewal application is not received by the Secretary of State within ninety days after the notary’s commission expiration date, the notary must apply for a new notary public commission.
To begin the mandatory online renewal application process for a notary public commission, go to the Secretary of State’s website at Total Notary Solution Online Renewal & Profile Update Service (maine.gov).
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 for appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries public are required to pass the online examination administered by the Secretary of State, which is part of the application for a new notary public commission or the renewal of a commission (5 MRSA 82[F] and ). The Secretary of State’s online Notary Public Law and Practices Knowledge Examination includes thirty questions covering a variety of areas relating to Maine notarial laws and practices.
If a renewing notary public, while taking the online examination, provides an incorrect response, the renewing notary may review the related information from the online notary public handbook and adjust his or her 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 shall furnish study materials relating to the written examination to an applicant without charge upon request. To download the “Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide,” visit the Secretary of State website at State of Maine.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Maine?
Yes. Maine enacted the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (10 MRSA §§9401 through 9419), 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?
Currently, the Maine notary statute does not authorize a notary public to witness an act by means of communication technology-live, video conferencing, two-way, audio-visual transmission, or other similar video technology where the person making the act is at a physical location different from the notary public or otherwise not in the physical presence of the notary public for the performance of the notarial act. Maine notaries public are prohibited from performing remote online notarial acts using communication technology for remotely located individuals. Based on the preceding, online webcam notarizations are invalid and illegal activities for notaries public in the state of Maine.
Please note that Maine Governor Janet Mills issued Executive Order 37 (2020) temporarily authorizing Maine notaries to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals using video conference technologies during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
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 punishable by imprisonment for one year or more, or of a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public as defined by rule by the Secretary of State.
Is a Maine 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 a Maine notary errors and omission insurance?
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.
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. A Maine notary public commission is only for use inside the state of Maine. A Maine notary public has the authority to notarize documents that may have been created or originated in another state or country if the notarization is performed in Maine.
Who appoints Maine notaries public?
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.
Maine Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
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 seal 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. For Maine notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
Dimensions: The Maine notary statute does not provide the legal dimensions for an official notary seal or stamp.
Required Elements: 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 word “Maine” or its abbreviation “ME”.
- The arm of state, the Great Seal of the State of Maine, 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 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).
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 (MRSA §995-B). Additionally, a notary public must keep a log of petitions for which he or she administered the oath to the circulator listed on a petition (MRSA §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 notarial 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: (1) record in their journal the notarial specifics for each notarial act performed; (2) not take a finger or thumb print as part of a notarial record in their journal, unless required by state notary law; (3) record in the journal any time the notary refused to act and the circumstances surrounding that refusal; (4) furnish, when requested, a certified copy of any public record in the notary's journal; (5) allow the inspection of their journal 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; (6) not surrender their journals and/or records to another notary public or to an employer; (7) retain their journals for seven years after expiration of the last commission during which an entry was made in the journal; and (8) have their journals delivered or mailed to the Secretary of State in the event of their deaths.
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. For Maine notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
How much can a Maine notary 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 assurance of the notarial fee.
What notarial acts can a Maine notary public perform?
A Maine notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts:
- Take acknowledgments
- Take oaths and affirmations
- Solemnize marriages
- Certify affidavits
- Protest instruments
- Certify copies of private documents
How do I update my address for my Maine notary commission?
If a change occurs in a notary’s legal, mailing, physical (if applicable), or email address, or in any other contact information contained in the file with the Secretary of State, the notary public must submit a written notice to the Secretary of State within ten days of the change. A Maine notary public may update his or her address or other contact information using the online renewal and profile update service system called Total Notary Solution. There is no fee to update a notary’s profile and commission information. To update a notary’s profile and commission 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?
If a change occurs to the name of the notary public on file with the Secretary of State, the notary public must provide a written notice to the Secretary of State within ten days of the date of the name change. For a change of name, the notary public 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 certificate with the new name if he or she wishes to have a new certificate; (3) submit to the Secretary of State his or her current commission certificate; and (4) submit a Notice of Change in Official Notarial Signature form. 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 website at: https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/notary/total/index.pl.
Revised: November 2020
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.