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How to Become a Notary Public in Maryland

Applicants can become a Maryland Notary Public by taking the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of your state’s qualifications (see below).
  2. Find three character references. They cannot be family members or employers. Maryland residents are preferred.
  3. Complete the Notary Public Application. Include your references and indicate your state senator or the county you wish to be commissioned in.
  4. Submit your application online or by mail. Make sure to include a copy of your ID to verify your address and a non-refundable $9 processing fee to the Notary Division of the Secretary of State's office.
  5. The Division will forward your application to your state senator for endorsement. If the senator approves, the application will be returned to the Secretary of State whereupon your appointment will be made upon approval by the Governor. They will send your Notary commission to the county clerk.
  6. The Secretary of State's office will send you an email notifying you to appear before the county clerk within 30 days to take your oath of office, pay an $11 fee and pick up your commission certificate.
  7. Buy your Notary seal and journal.
  8. Get E&O insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).
  9. Take continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Maryland Notary Process | MD Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Maryland Notary Process

Information about the cost and length of a Notary Public commission can be found below.

How much does it cost?

There is a non-refundable $9 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission. If you submit your application online, a $2 service fee will apply. An $11 fee is paid to the county clerk for taking your oath of office and receiving your commission. Additional costs for bonds, Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors.

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 Secretary of State recommends allowing four to six 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.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Maryland

Learn how you can qualify to become a Notary in the Old Line State.

Who can become a Notary?

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

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be known of good moral character, integrity and abilities
  • Be a resident of or work in the state of Maryland

Starting October 1, 2021, applicants won’t be required to live or work in the state of Maryland.

Is training or an exam required to be a Maryland Notary?

No training or exam is required in Maryland yet, but the state does require Notaries to be familiar and fully understand the Notary Public Handbook. The handbook outlines the proper procedures for notarizing a document and makes for a great reference.

Starting October 1, 2021, Notaries must take a Notary training course approved by the Secretary of State and pass an exam. The course will cover Notary laws, regulations and ethics relevant to notarial acts.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Maryland Notaries are required to use a seal that’s either an embosser that makes a raised impression in the paper, or a rubber stamp that makes an ink impression upon the paper, and a journal. The embosser or rubber stamp you choose must contain the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The words “Notary Public”
  • The county (or the City of Baltimore) for which you were appointed
  • A symbol or device of your choice (optional)

Your seal must not include certificate wording.

Effective October 1, 2021, Maryland Notaries are required to get an official stamp that contains the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • Your jurisdiction
  • Your office
  • The county in which you reside or were qualified
  • Any other information required by the Secretary of State

In addition, the Notary stamp must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached.

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.

You’ll also need a journal for all notarial acts you perform. 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.

Starting October 1, 2021, the Secretary of State requires a Notary journal to be a permanent, bound register with numbered pages or a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format that complies with SOS regulations. You must store all journals for 10 years after the performance of the last notarial act.

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.

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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General Notary Public Information

Have more questions about Notaries in Maryland? We have your answers.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

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

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.

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. The SOS recommends refraining from any notarial acts where you are personally involved in — directly or indirectly. You should also refrain from notarizing documents for immediate family members. Effective October 1, 2021, the SOS will prohibit you from notarizing for yourself or your spouse. Any notarial acts in which you or your spouse have a direct beneficial interest will not be allowed.

What fees can MD Notaries charge for notarizations?

Maryland Notaries can charge a maximum fee of $4 per notarial act. An additional fee for travel may be charged for mileage established by the Internal Revenue Service, but cannot exceed $5. Effective October 1, 2021, the fee Notaries can charge will increase to $5 per notarial act.

What should I do if I move or change my name?

You must notify the Secretary of State and the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the County, or Baltimore City — depending upon where you were appointed — of the address or name change within 30 days. For name changes, you can keep using the name on your commission until your term expires. In this case, the SOS recommends using the form “New Name, commissioned as Prior Name.”

You also have the option to get a new commission altogether under your new name. Complete the Notary Public Name and/or Address Change Form and submit it along with your old commission and $5 fee to the Secretary of State. You must appear before the clerk to be sworn in and pay the $8 administrative fee. When you receive your new commission, your previous one will be canceled.

What is the process to renew my commission as a Maryland Notary?

Approximately two months before your commission expires, the Secretary of State will send you a renewal form. You’ll need to complete the form and submit it along with the $11 application and processing fee. Within 30 days of your commission being approved, you’ll need to appear and pay the fees before the Clerk of the Court. Failure to do so may result in the revocation of your commission. Starting October 1, 2021, you’ll need to complete a Notary training course as part of the application process.

What do I need to know about remote online notarization in Maryland?

Starting October 1, 2021, Maryland Notaries with an active commission can register to perform remote online notarizations. Remote Notaries can provide their services for signers in any location as long as they’re physically located within Maryland at the time of the notarial act. Follow the steps in this guide to register for your remote authorization.

If you're not quite ready yet, we have additional resources where you can learn what a Notary is, what they do and why you should become a commissioned Notary.

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