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How to Become a Notary in Maryland


The Application Process to Become a Notary in Maryland:


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 America Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

This Maryland notary guide will help you understand:

  1. Who can become a notary in Maryland
  2. How to become a notary in Maryland
  3. The basic duties of a notary in Maryland

What are the qualifications to become a notary in Maryland?


To become a notary in Maryland, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be at least 18 years old.
  2. Be of good moral character and integrity.
  3. Be a resident of Maryland or have a place of employment or practice in Maryland.
  4. If living in Maryland, be appointed by the senator representing the district in which you live. 
  5. 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.

What is the process to become a notary in Maryland?


To become a notary in Maryland and receive a Maryland notary public commission, a notary applicant must:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Be familiar with and understand fully the Handbook for Maryland Notaries Public in its entirety.
  3. Obtain the name, address, phone, and email address from three references who can be contacted to attest to your character and who are not your employer or a family member.
  4. Take the Notary Public Course of Study and Examination from a state-authorized provider and download a certificate of completion and a certificate of passing.
  5. Have a digital image of his or her driver’s license or government-issued ID and MVA Change of Address Card available if the address doesn’t match the address on the notary application.
  6. Search for his or her legislative district in Maryland at www.mdelect.net.
  7. Complete the notary public application online at the Secretary of State’s website.
  8. Upload a copy of the driver’s license or ID and MVA change of address card (if applicable), certificate of course completion, and certificate of passing the exam and provide information for three character references.
  9. Pay the $9 application fee and the $2.00 service/convenience fee. The Secretary of State will then forward the application to the applicant’s state senator for endorsement. If the state senator approves the notary application, the Office of the Secretary of State will forward the notary’s notary commission certificate 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.
  10. After receiving a notification email from the Secretary of State's Office, appear before the clerk of the circuit court within thirty days to take the oath of office, pay an $11 fee, be sworn in, and receive the notary commission.

Very Important: If you do not appear before the clerk of the circuit court and take your oath of office within the thirty days, your commission will be revoked. If your commission is revoked because you did not appear within thirty days, you must reapply by submitting a new application and pay another application fee.

How do I renew my notary commission in Maryland?

You can renew your notary commission sixty days before your current notary commission expires (e.g., if your commission expires on May 31st, you may renew your commission on April 1st). You have until thirty days after your commission expires to renew your notary commission. (e.g., If your commission expires on May 31st, you have until June 30th to renew your commission.) If you do not renew your commission within the prescribed timeframe, you will not be able to renew, in which case you will be required to complete a new notary application.

Before renewing your Maryland notary commission, you must take a notary course from an approved notary course vendor and download a certificate of completion from an authorized provider.

To renew your Maryland notary commission:

  1. Go to the Secretary of State’s website and select “Renew Your Notary Commission” at https://www.egov.maryland.gov/sos/notary/#/home.
  2. Upload a copy of your DL/ID, MVA change of address card (if applicable), and certificate of notary course completion.
  3. Pay the $11 application service/convenience fee.  
  4. Take your oath with the clerk of the circuit court when your application is approved and pay the $11 fee. In return you will be issued the updated notary commission certificate.

Who appoints notaries in Maryland?

The Maryland Secretary of State receives applications for appointment and reappointment for all notaries public and applications are approved by the State Senator. To contact the Maryland Secretary of State, use the following information:

Maryland Secretary of State
Notary Division, State House

16 Francis Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone Number: 410-974-5521
Fax Number: 410-974-5190
Email: dlnotary_sos@maryland.gov
Website: https://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/default.aspx

Can a non-resident become a notary in Maryland?

Yes. A non-resident can apply as notary public in Maryland, provided the applicant:

1. Has a place of employment or practice in Maryland.

2. Meets the same eligibility requirements as Maryland residents, setting aside the residency requirements.

3. Is a resident of a state that allows Maryland residents working in that state to serve as notaries public in that state.

To apply to become a notary in Maryland as a non-resident, you must complete an application on the Secretary of State’s website.

How long is the term of a notary public commission in Maryland?

The commission term of a Maryland notary public is four years commencing from the date notarial commission was issued. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:

  1. by resignation, by death, or by revocation;
  2. when a notary public is no longer a resident of Maryland during his or her commission term;
  3. when a non-resident notary ceases to have a place of employment or practice in Maryland; or
  4. when a notary has been convicted of a felony or crime involving fraud or dishonesty.

Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Maryland?

Yes. Effective October 1, 2021, all new notary applicants must complete a course of study and pass an examination. However, notary renewal applicants are required to complete only a course of study. The course and examination must be taken through an entity approved by the Secretary of State.

The course of study shall include the Maryland notary public laws, regulations, ethics, and procedures, and the Handbook for Maryland Notaries Public. Every topic shall be fully covered so each participant can comply with the aforementioned requirements

How much does it cost to become a notary in Maryland?

A Maryland notary public applicant’s expenses include the costs for the following:

  1. A $9 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public and a $2 service/convenience fee.
  2. A $10.00 fee for the commission and a $1.00 registration fee to the clerk of the court.
  3. A Maryland notary stamp.
  4. A Maryland notary journal to record all notarial acts performed.
  5. A mandatory notary course and examination.
  6. A notary errors & omissions insurance policy if a notary wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability.

Is a notary errors & omissions insurance policy required to become a notary in Maryland?

An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Maryland. The American Association of Notaries certainly recommends that Maryland notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries 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 a notary public for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Maryland notary selects.

Is a notary bond required to become a notary in Maryland?

No. The Maryland notary statute does not require applicants seeking appointments as notaries public or renewing notaries public to maintain a notary bond during the term of their notarial commissions.

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Maryland?

Yes. Maryland notary statute requires all notaries public to authenticate all official acts with a notary stamp (ACM St. Gov. §18-217). Section 18-217 does not provide the legal specifications regarding the layout, ink color, shape, design, and measurements required on all official stamps.

Required Elements: Effective October 1, 2020, the official stamp of a notary public must include:

  • The name of the notary public as it appears on the notary's commission;
  • The words “Notary Public”
  • The county (or “City of Baltimore”) in which the notary was commissioned.
  • The expiration date of the notary’s commission, unless the expiration date is part of the notarial certificate or affixed to or logically associated with the record being notarized.

The official notary stamp must also be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated.

Note: Each notary public is responsible for the security of his or her stamping device and must not allow another individual to use the stamping device to perform notarial acts (ACM St. Gov. §18-218). The notary must promptly notify the Secretary of State upon discovering that his or her notary stamp has been lost or stolen. In the event of the notary’s death, the notary’s personal representative or guardian or any other person knowingly in possession of the notary’s stamping device shall destroy it.

To order a Maryland notary stamp, notary seal, complete notary package, and notary supplies please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.

How much can a Maryland notary public charge for performing notarial acts?

Maryland notary fees are set by state notary statute (ACM St. Gov. §18-107). The maximum allowable fees that a Maryland notary public may charge for various notarial acts are listed below:

  • Acknowledgments - $4.00
  • Administering Oaths or affirmations - $4.00
  • Verifications upon oath or affirmation- $4.00
  • Witnessing or attesting signatures - $4.00
  • Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument - $4.00
  • Certifying a copy of an entry in the notary’s journal - $2
  • Making a photocopy of the document that was notarized - $1

Note: A notary public may charge the prevailing rate for mileage established by the Internal Revenue Service for business travel per mile and a fee not to exceed $5 as compensation for travel required for the performance of a notarial act. Please see the Notary Division Home page for the current mileage rate.

Is a notary journal required in Maryland?

Yes. A Maryland notary public must maintain one journal at a time to chronicle all notarial acts performed regarding tangible records and one or more journals to chronicle all notarial acts performed regarding electronic records (ACM St. Gov. §18-219). A journal may be created in a tangible medium or in an electronic format. A journal maintained in a tangible medium must be a permanent, bound register with numbered pages. A  journal maintained in an electronic medium must be in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format in compliance with the regulations adopted by the Secretary of State (§18-222). A Maryland notary public must retain his or her journal for ten years after the performance of the last notarial act chronicled in the journal.

To order a Maryland notary journal, please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Maryland?

A Maryland notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Maryland (ACM St. Gov. §18-105).

What notarial acts can a Maryland notary public perform?

A Maryland notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (ACM St. Gov. §18-201[j][2]):

  • Acknowledgments
  • Administering oaths and affirmations
  • Verifications on oath or affirmation
  • Witnessing or attesting signatures
  • Certifying or attesting a copy
  • Certifying a tangible copy of an electronic record
  • Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument

What is the process to become a Maryland electronic notary public?

Effective October 1, 2020, the State of Maryland has enacted the Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2019), which authorizes electronic signatures used by Maryland notaries public (ACM St. Gov. §18-220). A notary public may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records.

Before you, as a notary public, perform your initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, you must:

  1. Notify the Secretary of State that you will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records.
  2. Identify the technology you intend to use, and the technology must conform to the standards adopted by the Secretary of State by rule.

How do I become a remote online notary in Maryland?

The State of Maryland has enacted the Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts through Senate Bill 678 (2019) and codified it in the State Government Article, Sections §18-201 to §18-227 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, effective October 1, 2020. The new act authorizes Maryland notaries public to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals.

Before you perform your initial remote online notarization as a notary public, you must:

  1. Be a current notary public in good standing.
  2. Notify the Secretary of State that you will be performing notarial acts with respect to remotely located individuals and identify the technologies you intend to use.
  3. Refrain from using any technology, including communication and identity proofing technology, that does not conform to the Secretary of State’s standards adopted by rule.
  4. Identify the authorized remote online notary vendor you will use and confirm that the vendor allows you, in real time, to:
  • View the remotely located individual.  
  • Compare for consistency the information and photos presented as identification credentials.
  • Create and retain an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act.
  • Record on the notarial certificate and in your journal that the notarial act was performed for a remotely located individual using communications technology.
  • Refrain from charging more than $4 for each remote online notarial act using communication technology.

Some of the statutory requirements outlined in the Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts require a notary public to use a remote online notarization service designed for the purpose of facilitating remote online notarizations, and such services must include the identity-proofing technology, e-signing capability, and storage of notarial act recordings that a notary public will need.

The verification of the remotely located individual’s identity is of great importance. Section §18-223 of the new law outlines requirements for knowledge-based identify proofing, credential analysis of an identification credential, and using secure communications technology. Therefore, a notary public must make sure the video resolution is sufficient to see identity-proofing documents distinctly and that the audio clarity is satisfactory to understand everything the remotely located individual verbalizes. The remote notary notification form and a list of the remote notarization technology providers approved by the Secretary of State for use in Maryland appear on the Secretary of State’s website.

Moreover, a notary public in Maryland performing remote online notarizations MAY NOT use technology primarily intended for video conferencing (such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.). These technologies are not allowed under this new act. 

How do I update my address with the Maryland Secretary of State?

Whenever the address of a notary is changed, within thirty days of the change, the notary must notify the Secretary of State and the clerk of the circuit court of the county, or of Baltimore City, depending upon where the notary received the commission. Click here to update your address. Follow the steps listed on the Secretary of State’s website for updating your address.

The notary may continue to perform official acts until the expiration of the term. A new stamping device is not required if the notary has only changed his or her address even if the new address is not in the county or City of Baltimore where the notary received the commission and which appears on the notary’s stamping device.

How do I change my name on my notary commission in Maryland?

Whenever the name of a Maryland notary is changed (for example, by marriage), within thirty days of the change, the notary must notify the Secretary of State  by completing the online name and/or address change form. Click here to update your name with the Maryland Secretary of State.

The notary may continue to perform official acts under the name in which the notary was commissioned until the expiration of the term. However, it is preferable to write on each document’s certificate New Name, commissioned as Prior Name. (e.g. Sally Jones, commissioned as Sally Johnson).

A notary who wishes to obtain a commission with his or her new name will need to be re-sworn in under the changed name and be charged a non-refundable $5 application fee plus a $1 service fee. The notary must appear before the clerk to be sworn in under the new name and must pay the clerk of the court’s fee, just as if the notary were renewing a commission. When the notary is sworn in for the new commission because of a change of name, the previous commission held in the old name is no longer valid.

Revised:

November 2021

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.