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Maine Laws on Notaries Public

Maine laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 5, and Chapter 19, Title 5 of Revised Statute of Maine.  Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 82, the Secretary of State appoints and renew a commission of a notary public.  At the time of appointment, the applicant should be:

  • 18 years of age or older;
  • a resident of the state of Maine ; and
  • a resident of an adjacent state regularly employed or carries on a trade or business in the State of Maine.

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 82, the applicant should submits an affidavit on employment details to the secretary of state.  The applicant should demonstrate proficiency in the English language at the time of appointment.  The applicant should not have revoked or suspended for official misconduct in the State of Maine or any other jurisdiction during the 5-year period preceding the date of application.  The applicant should not be convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for one year or more or of a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public as defined by rule by the Secretary of State during the 10-year period preceding the date of application for a new or renewed commission.  The applicant should satisfactorily complete the written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State to determine the fitness of the person to exercise the functions of the office of notary public[i].

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 82, a resident of the state serves six years term of office as a notary public.  A resident of an adjacent state serves for a term of four years.  A person appointed as a notary public exercises power and duties in any and all counties in the state of Maine.  The Secretary of State adopts rules relating to the appointment and renewal of commissions of notaries public.

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 82, the Secretary of State provides notice of the expiration of a commission to a notary public thirty days prior to the expiration date.  The notice must be in a form or format as determined by rule by the Secretary of State. However, failure to receive a notice does not affect the expiration date of a commission[ii].

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 82-B, the Notary Public Review Board was created to review violations of law by notaries public and complaints concerning notaries public.  The board reviews complaints against notaries public.  The Board makes recommendations to the Secretary of State on the appropriate disposition of such complaints.  The board holds a hearing as part of review to determine complaint.  The Board can recommend to the Secretary of State that the complaint be dismissed or that a notary public’s commission be denied, suspended, revoked or not renewed[iii].

Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 951, a notary public keeps a seal of office, engraved with the notary public’s name exactly as it appears on the notary public’s commission.  Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 951-A , when performing a notarization, a notary public must sign by producing that notary public’s official signature by hand in the same form as indicated on the notary public’s commission.  When a notary public changes signature during the term of the notary public’s commission, the notary public should immediately provide the Secretary of State with a new sample of the notary public’s official signature[iv].

Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 952, a notary public, when requested, should enter on record all losses or damages sustained or apprehended by sea or land.  A notary should enter on record on request all averages and such other matters as, by mercantile usage, appertain to his office.  A notary grant warrants of survey on vessels, and all facts, extracts from documents.  All the circumstances so noted should be signed and sworn to by all the persons appearing to protest.  A notary should extend and record the protest so made, and grant authenticated copies under his/her signature and notarial seal, to the person requesting and paying fees[v].

Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 956, on the resignation or removal from office of any notary public, the notary’s records be transferred to the custody of the State Archivist.  Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 957, a person who knowingly destroys, defaces or conceals record forfeits not less than $ 200 nor more than $ 1,000.  S/he is liable for damages to person injured in a civil action.

Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 958, a notary public can receive $ 1.50 for each protest of a bill or note, notifying parties.

Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 960, an advertisement for notary services should not include a literal translation of the phrase “Notary Public” into any language other than English, when the literal translation implies that the notary public is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Maine or in any jurisdiction of the U S.  Any violation to the requirement constitutes a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $ 5,000.  A customer aggrieved by a violation can initiate a civil action in the Superior Court against the violator for injunctive relief or damages or both.  A court finding violation can award:

  • an amount equal to actual damages sustained by the customer as a result of the violation;
  • an amount equal to three times the actual damages; and
  • the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney’s fees[vi].

Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 960, when the Attorney General has reason to believe that a person in the State of Maine has engaged in or is engaging in activities violating the provisions, s/he can initiate an action in the Superior Court to enforce the provision.

[i] 5 M.R.S. § 82.

[ii] Id.

[iii] 5 M.R.S. § 82-B.

[iv] 4 M.R.S. § 951-A.

[v] 4 M.R.S. § 952.

[vi] 4 M.R.S. § 960.

Inside Maine Laws on Notaries Public