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How To Become A Notary Public In Maryland

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Maryland, this practical guide will answer many common questions. Learn about notarial duties, and find out how you can become a commissioned Notary. Once you are ready to begin the process of becoming a Maryland notary or renewing your Maryland commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

Requirements to be a Notary in Maryland
Maryland Notary Process
What Can I Do With My Maryland Commission?
General Notary Public Information

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Requirements to be a Notary in Maryland 

What is a Notary Public?

A Maryland Notary is appointed by the Secretary of State to be an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. Maryland Notaries are authorized to administer several official acts, including oaths, affirmations, depositions, witness signings, and acknowledgments. In addition to those acts, Maryland Notaries can also make protests and declarations.

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Maryland Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?
  1. Make sure you meet all of your state’s qualifications:
    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Be known of good character, integrity, and abilities
    • Live or work in the state of Maryland
    • In completing the application, the would-be Notary must cite three character references who are not family members or employers and preferably Maryland residents. Applicants must also indicate their state senator or the county they wish to be commissioned in.
  2. The completed application must then be sent to the Notary Division with a $20 processing fee and a copy of a driver’s license or other valid government photo ID verifying the applicant’s address. The mailing address for applications is:
    • Office of Secretary of State
      Notary Division
      16 Francis Street
      Annapolis, MD 21401
  3. The Division will forward the application to the respective state senator for endorsement. If the senator approves, the application will be returned to the Secretary of State for final approval.
  4. The Secretary of State will issue a new Notary commission and send it to the county clerk as well as a postcard to the applicant. The applicant will have 30 days to appear before the county clerk, take an oath of office, and pick up the new commission certificate.
  5. Purchase your Notary seal (inking stamp or embosser)
  6. Purchase errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended)
  7. Begin performing notarizations for the public
  8. If you determine you need additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance

What is the process to renew my commission as a Maryland Notary?
  1. Be sure you continue to meet the qualifications to become a Notary.
  2. Review the application process and instructions on the Secretary of State’s website.
  3. Approximately two months before commission expiration, a form to renew the commission will be sent to you by the office of the Secretary of State.
  4. Providing three character references are optional for renewing applicants.
  5. Purchase your Notary seal (inking stamp or embosser)
  6. Purchase errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended)
  7. Begin performing notarizations for the public
  8. Begin performing notarizations for the public.
  9. If you determine you need additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance.
How much does it cost?

There is a $20 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission. Additional costs for bonds, Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors. A fee of up to $12 is paid to the county clerk for filing your bond, signature and commission.

The cost of commissioning can differ depending on whether you are a new or renewing Notary. Supply package prices vary among vendors. New Notaries may need more “how-to” assistance than experienced Notaries. Books, training and live expert assistance are often must-haves for most new Notaries.

Some vendors may package items with additional fees — processing fees for example. Training can be included in package prices for new Notaries, although the quality of education can vary. Some providers offer their own Notary courses while others do not have the on-staff expertise to develop and support educational content. Several vendors offer Notaries live question and answer support, and others are not able to offer such assistance.

How long does it take?

The Maryland Department of State recommends allowing 4 to 6 weeks for the processing of a Notary Public commission application.

How long does a Maryland Notary commission last?

The term of a Maryland Notary commission is four years.

Who can become a Notary?

A Notary Public applicant in Maryland must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be at least 18 years old
  2. Be known of good character, integrity and abilities
  3. Live or work in the state of Maryland
What kind of training will I need?

No course of instruction is required in Maryland; however, it is strongly recommended by the state that all Notaries should obtain the ‘Notary Public Handbook’ which outlines the proper procedures for notarizing a document and use the handbook as a reference.

Do I need to take an exam?

There is no state-proctored exam required in Maryland.

What kind of equipment will I need?

Maryland Notaries use a rubber stamp ink seal for all notarial acts for paper documents. You may use an embosser in place of the rubber stamp, but either an inking stamp or embosser must be used as the official seal.

If you have a Notary Public Special Commission, you must use the following signature format:

Supplies are sold by most vendors in packages, which can sometimes provide savings. However, not all vendor packages are created equal – they can vary greatly in terms of quality and content. If you are a new Notary or renewing your commission, the types and quantity of notarizations can require different tools of the trade. For example, if you are a mobile or retail Notary, an ID checking guide is recommended because you are constantly dealing with different people, as opposed to someone who notarizes in the same setting for the same group of people day after day.

Every Maryland Notary must provide and keep a fair register of his or her notarial acts. This must be a true and perfect record of his or her official acts. When purchasing a journal, there are features to which you must pay close attention. A journal with tamper-proof sewn construction allows Notaries to identify missing pages in their journals, which becomes extremely helpful if you’re ever named in a lawsuit.

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. A second seal can help you avoid downtime if your seal is ever misplaced, and an embosser can help add an additional layer of fraud prevention security.

May I become a Maryland Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to become a Maryland Notary Public. You must, however, be a legal resident of the state or work in the state legally and meet all other application requirements.

What is a surety bond and why do I need one?

Maryland Notaries are not required to purchase a surety bond. A surety bond is a financial guarantee that the Notary will fulfill his or her obligations to notarize in compliance with state laws. This Notary bond specifically protects the public, not the Notary.

Notaries can insure themselves against possible legal costs or damages by purchasing a separate, optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy. Though not required by law, an E&O policy covers a Notary’s legal fees and damages up to the amount of the policy.

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What Can I Do With My Maryland Commission?

Where will I be able to notarize?

A Maryland Notary can perform notarial acts anywhere within the state’s borders.

Who can I notarize for?

Any member of the public, as long as the request meets all statutory requirements for notarization.

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General Notary Public Information

Why become a Notary?

Notaries perform an important role in preventing fraud and ensuring the integrity of transactions by verifying the identity of document signers. It’s common for employees of many businesses that deal with signed document transactions on a regular basis — such as financial institutions, law firms or corporations — to become Notaries. Some entrepreneurs become commissioned Notaries as a part-time or full-time business for themselves, traveling to a signer’s home or place of business to notarize documents for a fee.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Maryland Office of Secretary of State, Notary Division, located in Annapolis, MD.

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