How to Become a Notary in Maryland
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 notarial duties
What are the qualifications to become a Maryland notary?
To become a Maryland notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be of good moral character and integrity.
- Be a resident of Maryland or have a place of employment or practice in 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.
What is the process to become a Maryland notary?
To become a Maryland notary public, you must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Be familiar with and fully understand the Handbook for Maryland Notaries Public in its entirety before submitting a notary public application.
- Obtain the name of your State Senator and Legislative District to record on the notary public application. (Find the legislative district number and the name of your State Senator using the look-up link provided by the Maryland General Assembly.)
- Ensure the information on the three references (who cannot be family members or employers) included on your application is correct since your State Senator may be contacted to attest to your character.
- Complete and submit a Notary Public Application form to the Secretary of State with a $9 filing fee or apply online through the Notary Public Online Application at: https://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/default.aspx.
- Submit with the application a printed copy or digital copy of your driver’s license or MVA state identification card that has a current address.
- If the address on the I.D. does not match the address on the application, a change of address card from the MVA will be required that shows the address on the application as your actual home address.
- If the application is approved, you will receive an email explaining what to do next. (Check your spam folder, not just your inbox for that email.)
- 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. If you do not complete these steps within the thirty day period, your notary public commission will be revoked.
- Review by State Senator: An application is submitted to the Secretary of State by a resident of Maryland with a non-refundable $9.00 processing fee. It then goes to the State Senator of the applicant's senatorial district. If the Senator approves the application, it is returned to the Secretary of State, and appointment will be made upon approval of the Governor. An application that is submitted to the Secretary of State by an out-of-state person is transmitted to a State Senator chosen by the applicant. Usually, the Senator chosen is the one representing the district where the applicant works or whose district is closest to the applicant's residence.
- Approval & Notification: After appointment by the Governor, a notarial commission is prepared and sealed with the Great Seal of the State and is signed by the Governor and Secretary of State. The applicant is then notified to appear before the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the County or Baltimore City depending on where the applicant resides. Out-of-state applicants appear before the Clerk of the Circuit of the County or Baltimore City depending on where the endorsing Senator has jurisdiction. The appointee must pay a fee of $10.00 for the commission and a $1.00 registration fee to the Clerk and take the oath of office. The appointee then receives the commission and is qualified to act as a notary public.
- Commissioning: You must be commissioned at the Clerk’s Office within thirty days of being notified. If you are not commissioned within the thirty-day period, your notary public commission will be revoked. If you did not receive a postcard but were notified by your State Senator that the application was approved, please contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county of residence or, if you are a non-Maryland resident, the county in which you selected to be commissioned to check if the notarial commission is at the Clerk's Office.
Important Notice: Effective October 1, 2021, initial applicants for appointment as notaries public and renewing notaries public will be required to complete a mandatory notary course and pass an examination as required by the newly enacted Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, Senate Bill 636 (2020) was passed and moved the effective date for the mandatory education requirements to October 1, 2021.
Can a non-resident become a notary in Maryland?
Yes. A resident of a state bordering Maryland that allows Maryland residents working in that state to serve as notaries public in that state may apply to become a Maryland notary public (ACM St. Gov. §18-102a[ii]). To become a non-resident notary public, you must:
- Reside in a state that extends reciprocity to Maryland residents and allows them become notaries public in that state.
- Have a place of employment or practice in Maryland.
- Meet the eligibility requirements as Maryland residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
- Select a State Senator and a Legislative District in which you would like to be commissioned as a notary public.
- Submit an application form to the Maryland Secretary of State and follow the application for appointment process and procedures for out-of-state residents.
- Be approved by the selected State Senator, which is usually the State Senator representing the district where you have a place of employment or practice in Maryland or whose district is closest to your residence.
- Appear before the Clerk of the Circuit of the County or Baltimore City, depending on where the endorsing State Senator has jurisdiction, within thirty days of being notified to receive your notarial commission and take an oath of office.
- Continuously maintain a place of employment or practice in Maryland.
- Relinquish your notarial commission if you cease to have a place of employment or practice in Maryland by returning the commission certificate to the Maryland Secretary of State.
Note: “An out-of-state notary shall be deemed to have irrevocably appointed the Secretary of State as the notary's agent upon whom may be served any summons, subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, or other process” (ACM St. Gov. §18-102[b]).
How much does it cost to become a notary in Maryland?
A Maryland notary public applicant’s expenses may include: (1) a $9 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public; (2) an official stamp; (3) a journal to record all notarial acts performed; and (4) effective October 1, 2021, a mandatory notary course and examination for all new and renewing notaries offered by an approved education provider for a fee. Additional expenses may, at the notary’s option, include the purchase of: (a) a notary surety bond if the notary wishes to protect the public from the notary’s unintentional or intentional negligence and/or official misconduct in the performance of the notary’s official acts; and (b) 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 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 courses required to become a Maryland notary public or to renew my Maryland notary public commission?
Effective October 1, 2020, the Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts as enacted by SB 678 (2019) requires all initial applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries public to complete a mandatory notary course and pass an examination to be commissioned as notaries public (ACM St. Gov. §18-102a). However, Senate Bill 636 (2020) was enacted and moved the effective date for the mandatory education requirements to October 1, 2021. In addition, this new act requires the Maryland Secretary of State to regularly offer a course of study and an examination that cover the laws, regulations, procedures, and ethics relevant to notarial acts (ACM St. Gov. §18-102[b]). The mandatory notary course and examination may be offered through an entity approved by the Secretary of State. Currently, the Secretary of State has created a webinar for notaries and those who want to become notaries public in the state of Maryland. The Secretary of State’s webinar is free of charge. The Secretary of State will provide additional information regarding the mandatory notary course and examination in the near future. In the meantime, the Secretary of State highly recommends taking the webinar to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities of a notary public. To take the webinar, follow this link: https://onestop.md.gov/forms/maryland-notary-public-course-of-study-and-examination-5ec818bcbdb84100fc75ccad.
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. A person may not require a notary public to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology that the notary public has not selected.
Before you, as a notary public, perform your initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, you must:
- Notify the Secretary of State that you will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records.
- Identify the technology you intend to use, and the technology must conform to the standards adopted by the Secretary of State by rule.
The Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts authorizes a clerk of the circuit court to accept for recording under Title 3 of the Real Property Article a tangible copy of an electronic record containing a notarial certificate in a form sufficient under Section 18-216(g) as satisfying any requirement that a record accepted for recording be an original, if the notarial officer executing the certificate certifies that the tangible copy is an accurate copy of the electronic record under Section 18-203(c). In performing a notarial act with respect to an electronic record, a notary public must complete the notarial certificate with the information required by Section 18-215(a) and include an affixed or embossed official stamp. The certificate must be attached to or made a part of a tangible copy of an electronic record. The liability, sanctions, and remedies for the improper performance of a notarial act with respect to an electronic record are the same under the state notary laws for the improper performance of a notarial act performed by a traditional notary public.
What is the process to become a Maryland online notary public?
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 notify the Secretary of State that you will be performing remote online notarial acts for remotely located individuals. You must:
- Be a current notary public in good standing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Identify the communications technology vendor you will use and confirm that the vendor allows you, in real time, to: (1) view the remotely located individual and (2) 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 certification 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 in the Secretary of State’s website at: https://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/default.aspx. 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.), which are not allowed under this new act.
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, (2) by death, (3) by revocation, (4) when a notary public is no longer a resident of Maryland during his or her commission term; (5) when a non-resident notary ceases to have a place of employment or practice in Maryland; or (6) when a notary has been convicted of a felony or crime involving fraud or dishonesty.
Is a Maryland notary bond required to become a notary in Maryland?
No. The Maryland notary statute does not require applicants seeking appointment as notaries public or renewing notaries public to maintain a surety bond during the term of their notarial commissions. While a notary bond is not required by state notary statute, Maryland notaries public may elect to purchase a surety bond in the event the public sustains monetary losses caused by the notary’s unintentional or intentional negligence and/or official misconduct. If the surety company pays the assessed damages up to the limited amount of the surety bond as selected by the notary, the surety company will demand reimbursement from the notary public for all paid claims. It is not always possible to prevent a civil lawsuit, but a notary public can reduce its effects with a surety bond.
Do I need a Maryland notary errors and omission insurance?
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 a client for which a notary public is sued for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Maryland notary selects.
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. §18-109).
Who appoints Maryland notaries public?
The Maryland Secretary of State receives applications for appointment and reappointment for all notaries public. 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
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Maryland?
Yes. Maryland notary statute requires all notaries public to authenticate all official acts with an official 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 notary public’s name, jurisdiction, and office
- The county in which the notary public resides or was qualified
- Any other information required by the Secretary of State
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: A notary public must include in his or her official stamp or within a certificate of notarial act the notary’s commission expiration date. If a notary public’s stamping device is lost or stolen, the notary or the notary’s personal representative or guardian must promptly notify the Secretary of State upon discovering that the device is lost or stolen. 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).
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. If the journal is maintained in a tangible medium, it must be a permanent, bound register with numbered pages. If the journal is maintained in an electronic format, it must be in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format in compliance with the regulations adopted by the Secretary of State. A Maryland notary public must retain the journal for ten years after the performance of the last notarial act chronicled in the journal. For Maryland notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.
How much can a Maryland notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Maryland notary fees are set by state notary statute (ACM St. Gov. §18-107 and §18-112). The maximum allowable fees that a Maryland notary public or person acting on behalf of a notary public may charge for various notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $4.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $4.00
- Verifications upon oath or affirmation- $4.00
- Witnessing or attesting signatures - $4.00
- Protests of negotiable instruments - $4.00
- Certifying a copy of an entry in the notary’s journal - $2
- Making a copy of an entry in the notary’s journal - $1
- For each certificate and seal - $4.00
Note: A notary public may charge per mile (or a higher amount set by regulation of the Secretary of State) 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: https://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/default.aspx.
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]):
- 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
- Protesting negotiable instruments
How do I update my address for my Maryland notary commission?
A Maryland notary public whose residence changes during the term of his or her notarial commission is required to complete the Notary Name & Address Change Form and submit the form to the Notary Division with the Secretary of State within thirty days after the change of address. The notary public is also required to notify the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county where the notary received the commission. To complete the change of address form, a Maryland resident notary public will need to have his or her new legislative district, new election district, new precinct number, and the name of his or her new State Senator. A notary public can find his or her legislative district and State Senator by using the look-up link provided by the Maryland State Archives. The remaining information can be obtained by contacting the Local Elections Office in his or her county or the City of Baltimore. Non-Maryland residents should select the county or City of Baltimore in which the non-resident notary public would like to be commissioned, i.e., generally the county in which he or she has a place of employment or practice in Maryland. To download the Name and Address Change Form, go to: https://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/NameChange.aspx
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Maryland?
A Maryland notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of the notary’s commission and who wishes to be commissioned under the new name is required to complete the Notary Name & Address Change Form and submit the form and his or her old notarial commission to the Notary Division within thirty days after the name change. Upon receipt of the form, the Notary Division will issue a new commission reflecting the new name and will forward the notary’s commission to the Clerk of the Court in the county in which he or she resides (for Maryland residents) or county in which the non-resident notary wishes to be commissioned. The notary public will receive an email, sent to the email address he or she provided, instructing the notary public to go to the Clerk of the Circuit Court to take the oath of office under his or her new name. The Clerk of the Court will collect an $11.00 fee when the notary is sworn in under the new name. Once the new commission is issued, the commission with the notary’s former name is revoked, and the notary public must obtain a new seal reflecting the new name. The notary public must be commissioned at the Clerk’s Office within thirty days of being notified. If the notary public is not commissioned within the thirty-day period, the new commission is revoked. If the notary public did not receive a postcard within two weeks of submitting a name change form, he or she should contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court in his or her county of residence (or, for non-Maryland residents, the county in which the non-resident notary selected to be commissioned) to determine if the new commission is at the Clerk’s Office.
Revised: June 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 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 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 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.