How to Become a Maryland Notary
The Maryland Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Maryland notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Maryland notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Maryland appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Maryland is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Maryland notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a Maryland notary
- The process to become a Maryland notary
- Basic Maryland notary duties
Qualifications to become a notary in Maryland:
To become a notary in Maryland, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be of good moral character and integrity
- Live or work in the state of Maryland
- If living in Maryland, be a resident of the senatorial district from which appointed
- If living outside of Maryland, be a resident of a state that allows Maryland residents working in that state to serve as notaries public in that state
The process to become a notary in Maryland:
In order to become a Maryland notary and receive a Maryland notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Review the Duties & Responsibilities of a Notary Public in Maryland and the Notary Handbook before submitting a notary public application.
- Obtain the name of his or her State Senator and Legislative District to provide on the notary public application.
- Complete and submit a Notary Public Application form to the Secretary of State with a $9 filing fee, or apply through the Notary Public Online Application at http://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/default.aspx.
- Read the application process and procedures listed below before proceeding to Number 6.
- Appear before the Clerk of the Circuit Court within thirty days of being notified to take the oath, pay an $11 filing fee, and receive the notary public commission. (Failure to qualify within the 30-day time period will result in the revocation of the commission.)
Application Procedures: After the Secretary of State reviews the application and accepts the processing fee, the application is forwarded to the applicant's state senator for his or her recommendation. If the state senator recommends the applicant for the office of notary public, the Secretary of State issues a commission and forwards it to the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which the applicant resides or, for non-Maryland residents, the county in which the applicant selected to be commissioned. The Notary Division will send an email, to the email provided, stating that the commission has been issued and will instruct the applicant to go to the Clerk of the Circuit Court to take the oath of office.
To download the application form - http://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/NotaryAppInfo.aspx
Can a non-resident become a notary in Maryland?
Yes. A non-resident can become a Maryland notary public if the person (1) meets the eligibility requirements of a Maryland resident; (2) resides in a state that extends reciprocity to a Maryland resident to become a notary public in that state; (3) has a place of employment in Maryland; (4) selects a state senator and legislative district in which he or she would like to be commissioned; and (5) follows the same initial application for appointment processes as a Maryland resident.
Is a Maryland notary bond required to become a notary in Maryland?
No. A bond is not required by law to become a notary public in Maryland.
Do I need a Maryland notary errors & omission insurance?
While optional in Maryland, 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 Maryland notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for protection against liability.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Maryland?
To become a notary public in Maryland, a notary applicant’s required expenses include the following: (1) a $9 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a notary seal; and (3) a journal. Additional expenses may, at the notary’s option, include the purchase of: (1) a bond and (2) an errors and omissions insurance policy to protect the notary against liability.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Maryland?
The term of office of a Maryland 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 Maryland; or (5) when a nonresident notary ceases to be employed in Maryland.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Maryland?
A Maryland notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in Maryland. Likewise, a Maryland notary public may not perform notarial acts outside this state.
Who appoints Maryland notaries public?
The Governor with the recommendation of a state senator appoints Maryland notaries public. The Secretary of State is in charge of processing all of the applications for appointments and reappointments for a notary public commission.
Contact information for the Maryland Secretary of State is as follows:
Secretary of State
Notary Division, State House
16 Francis Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
How do I renew my Maryland notary commission?
The Secretary of State sends out a renewal application to the last known address on file two months before the commission expires. A Maryland notary public can renew his or her commission up to sixty days before the commission expires and/or up to thirty days after the commission expires. A notary may either submit the completed application to the Secretary of State with the required processing fee, or submit the renewal application online with the processing fee. The notary public will be issued a notice of renewal upon approval. The notary public appears before the Clerk of the Court and pays the fees within thirty days after issuance of notice of renewal. Failure to qualify within thirty days after notice constitutes a revocation of the appointment and commission.To apply using the renewal service online, go to: https://www.egov.maryland.gov/sos/notary/#/renew.
Are there any exams or notary course requirements?
No. Maryland notary law does not require a course of study or examination to become a Maryland notary public. However, the Secretary of State instructs all new applicants for a Maryland notary public commission to review the Duties and Responsibilities of a Notary Public in Maryland and the Notary Handbook prior to submitting their notary public applications. These notary materials are posted on the Secretary of State’s website.
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Maryland?
Yes. Maryland notary law requires all notaries public to use a seal that is either an embossed seal or an inked rubber stamp to authenticate all notarial acts performed (§18-108). However, neither the Maryland notary law nor the administrative regulations provide the legal measurements required for all notary seals.
Required Elements: The Maryland notary seal or stamp must contain the following elements:
- The name of the notary public
- The words “Notary Public”
- The name of the county (or “City of Baltimore”) where the notary resides or was qualified
Note: The notary seal may also contain a symbol or device chosen by the notary public, but a symbol or device is not required and is not normally used. The expiration date of a notary’s commission is required for a notarial act.
Is a notary journal required in Maryland?
Yes. Section 18-107 of the Annotated Code of Maryland requires all Maryland notaries public to register all protests and other official acts performed in a journal. The Secretary of State strongly recommends that Maryland notaries record all notarial acts performed in a journal. The American Association of Notaries encourages Maryland notaries, as a protective measure against liability, to record their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages designed to deter fraud. For Maryland notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call (800) 721-2663.
How much can a Maryland notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Maryland notary fees are set by statute (§18-112). The maximum allowable fees that a Maryland notary public can charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $4
- Oaths or affirmations - $4
- Witness or attest a signature - $4
- Protest instruments - $4
- Certify a copy of an entry in the notary’s registry - $2.00
- Make a copy of an entry in the notary’s registry - $1.00
Note: A notary public may also charge a mileage reimbursement of 31 cents per mile for travel for the performance of a notarial act plus a flat travel fee up to $5.
What notarial acts can a Maryland notary public perform?
A Maryland notary public is authorized to perform these notarial acts:
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Protest instruments
- Take depositions
- Witness signings
- Certify copies of notarial records
Can I perform electronic notarization in Maryland
Yes. The state of Maryland has not yet adopted statutes or regulations that establish rules, guidelines, standards, and procedures for electronic notarization. However, Maryland has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by Maryland notaries. Section 21-110 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.”
How do I change my address?
A Maryland notary public whose residence changes during the term of his or her commission is required to notify the Secretary of State and complete the Notary Name and Address Change Form within thirty days after the change of address. The notary is also required to notify the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county where the notary received the commission. To download the Name and Address Change Form, go to: http://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/NameChange.aspx.
How do I change my name on my Maryland notary commission?
A Maryland notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of the notary’s commission is required to notify the Secretary of State and complete the Notary Name and Address Change Form within thirty days after the name change.
Optional: In the event of a name change, the notary may continue to perform official acts under the name in which he or she was commissioned until the expiration of the commission. A notary who wishes to obtain a commission in a new name may do so by requesting a name change application from the Secretary of State, which is to be completed and returned, along with the old commission. The notary must appear before the Clerk to be sworn in and pay an administrative fee of $8.00. To download the Name Change Form, go to: http://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/NameChange.aspx.
A Maryland notary public, or his or her representative, is required to send a signed letter to the Secretary of State if the notary: (1) no longer maintains residence in Maryland during the term of the notary’s 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) no longer maintains employment in Maryland for nonresident notaries. In the case of any of the above situations, the notary’s official seal must be destroyed immediately.
Prohibited Maryland notarial acts
These activities by a Maryland 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
- Notarizing a document that does not contain a notarial certificate
- Charging more than the fee prescribed by law for 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 any notarial act with the intent to deceive or defraud
- 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
- Notarizing an incomplete document or one containing blanks
- Notarizing a document if the notary is individually a party to the instrument
- Performing an official act in which the notary has a financial or beneficial interest
- Failing to meet and sustain the conditions and requirements necessary to maintain a commission
- Preparing any written instrument affecting the title to real estate
- Giving advice in the administration or probate of estate of decedents in any orphan’s court
- Notarizing for immediate family members
- Rendering services that may result in the issuance of a title insurance contract
- Certify the authenticity of any document—official or unofficial—other than the notary’s registry
Official notarial misconduct:
The criminal law of Maryland imposes fines and terms of imprisonment for the following wrongful conduct of any person, including a notary public. These criminal penalties are in addition to any action for removal by the Governor. Among the offenses particularly significant to notaries public are those which pertain to:
- a. Unlawfully, falsely and corruptly affixing a public seal, such as a notarial seal, to any deed, warrant, or other writing.
- b. Misconduct (malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance) committed in office by improperly performing duties imposed by law.
- c. Practice of law by one who is not an attorney admitted to practice by the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
Maryland notary laws and regulations:
Annotated Code of Maryland, “State Government,” Titles 18, “Notaries Public” Sections 18-101 through 18-114
Annotated Code of Maryland, “State Government,” Titles 19, “Acknowledgments” Sections 19-101 through 19-114
The Handbook for Maryland Notaries Public includes the above-referenced statutes and the regulations for notary public fees.
Maryland notarial certificates:
Click here to view Maryland’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.