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Guidance

MD Guidance on Remote Notarizations

Notary Law Update: MD Guidance on Remote Notarizations

State: Maryland

Summary:

Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith has issued official guidance to Maryland Notaries on how to understand and perform temporary remote notarizations as authorized under Governor Hogan's Executive Order of March 30, 2020.

Signed:  March 30, 2020

Effective:  March 30, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Maryland Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. Clarifies that the contents of the guidance are temporary guidelines that apply during the emergency waiver of the in-person requirement and that all other requirements for performing notarial acts are in full force and effect.  
  2. Clarifies that a Notary may charge no more than $4 for each remote online notarial act using communication technology, which is the same fee that may be charged when performing an in person notarial act.
  3. Emphasizes that the Governor’s Order is a temporary waiver of the in-person requirement, which is a significant change to notarization practice in Maryland. 
  4. Recommends that Notaries use a communications technology vendor designed for the purpose of facilitating remote notarizations, and some are listed further down in this guidance.
  5. Refers Notaries for additional guidance on remote notarization to the National Notary Association or other professional membership associations.  
  6. Recommends that if Notaries do select a communications technology vendor that is primarily designed for videoconferencing, it is their responsibility to make sure that all of the communications features are secured. 
  7. Clarifies that Zoom cannot be used because of security concerns. 
  8. Clarifies that if a Notary uses a communication technology platform primarily designed for videoconferencing, the vendor must be a United States company that has been lawfully operating in the United States for at least three years. 
  9. Requires a videoconference platform to permit the Notary to meet all the requirements in the Governor’s Order.
  10. Provides that a Notary may notify the Secretary of State that the Notary will be performing remote notarizations by completing the form found at https://sos.maryland.gov/Notary/Pages/default.aspx. 
  11. Provides that a Notary must submit the notification form and a copy of the Notary’s current notary commission via email to remotenotary.sos@maryland.gov
  12. Reminds Notaries that they are professionals whose legal responsibility is to perform notarizations correctly under the law, and that they should read and understand all of the legal requirements under both the existing notary statute found and the provisions added by the emergency order issued by the Governor. 
  13. Clarifies that a Notary who performs remote notarization may still perform in-person notarizations by applying appropriate social distancing and CDC and MDH guidance.
  14. Directs Notaries for additional guidance for performing in person notarization amid the current public health crisis to https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/notaries-precautions-coronavirus.
  15. Directs Notaries for information regarding communication technology vendors to the National Notary Association (https://www.nationalnotary.org), Maryland Bankers Association (https://www.mdbankers.com), Maryland Realtors Association (https://www.mdrealtor.org), and Maryland Land Title Association (https://www.mdlta.org).
  16. Lists (in no particular order and without being a comprehensive list nor endorsing any particular vendor) the following vendors as having systems specifically designed to perform remote notarizations: Digital Delivery, Inc., DocVerify, eNotaryLog, LenderClose, Notarize, NotaryCam, Pavaso, Safedocs, SIGNiX, Simply Secure Sign, Synrgo and World Wide Notary.
  17. Lists the following videoconference platforms that are not specifically designed for remote notarizations that Notaries may choose to consider include: GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype and Cisco Webex.
  18. Clarifies that the Secretary of State does not endorse a specific commercial brand of communication technology.
  19. Clarifies that the following public information of a Notary will be displayed on the Secretary’s website when a search is conducted: the Notary's applicant ID, name, county of commission, expiration date, and business phone number.
  20. Advises that while home addresses and phone numbers of a Notary will not be displayed on the Secretary’s website, the Secretary's office is required by law to disclose the home phone number of a notary public pursuant to the Maryland Public Information Act, Section 4-332. 
  21. Clarifies that the Secretary will publish a list of Notaries authorized to perform remote notarizations on the Secretary’s website.
Analysis:

With the issuance of Governor Hogan’s Executive Order on March 30, 2020, Maryland Notaries may temporarily perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals. To follow up on the Order, the Maryland Secretary of State has issued guidance to Maryland Notaries who may want to start performing these notarizations. Information on providing the required notification to the Secretary of State that the Notary will be performing these remote notarizations is provided, including a link to the actual form itself and an email address where the completed form may be sent. It is important that Notaries complete and email this form to the Secretary and identify the technology provider the Notary will use before performing remote notarizations. The guidance recognizes that remote notarizations present a marked departure from the way notarizations have been performed in Maryland and urges Notaries to responsibly follow all existing Notary laws, including the amount of the fee that may be charged, in performing remote notarizations.

The guidance has been revised several times after having first been issued on March 30, 2020 and will be revised as the guidance is revised. The date of issuance of the initial guidance document is reflected above, but the current provisions of the most recently released guidance document are reported above and may be found at the link below. To read all revisions of the guidance document issued to date in a single document, click Download PDF below.

Read the current guidance.

Download PDF

Knowledge Center