John P. McDonough, Secretary of State
Peter Fosselman, Deputy Secretary of State
The Maryland Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is administered by the Office of the
Secretary of State and provides an important service to victims of domestic violence. The goal of the ACP
is to help those individuals, who have relocated or are about to relocate, in an effort to keep their perpetrators
from finding them. The ACP is not for everyone. A trained professional from a domestic violence program can help determine
if ACP should be part of the individual's safety plan.
The Program has two components:
- First, the ACP provides a substitute address for victims who have
moved or are about to move to a new location unknown to their abuser.
- Second, the Program provides participants with a free confidential
mail-forwarding service for first-class mail and legal papers.
How the ACP can help victims?
Who may apply?
How does someone apply?
What happens as a participant?
What is the substitute address?
How does a participant work with State and local Government agencies?
What are other things to remember?
The ACP is committed to providing the most secure and efficient
mail-forwarding service possible for participants in the Program. Working
with various State and local domestic violence advocates, our office offers
its services as an important part of the safety solution for victims of
For more information about this Program, or for an Application Assistant
near you, please call: 1-800-633-9657 x 3875 or
Click on links for more information.
How the ACP can help victims?
The goal of the Address Confidentiality Program is to help victims
of domestic violence, who have relocated or are about to relocate, in an effort
to keep their perpetrators from finding them. These services limit an abuser's
ability to access public information which could identify the new location of
a victim who is in the program. This is not a witness protection program,
rather it is a mail forwarding service. In most cases, using the substitute
address allows State and local agencies to respond to requests for public information
without disclosing the participant's actual address.
Participation in the Maryland Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program
is only one part of a victim's overall safety plan. By itself,
the ACP cannot keep a person safe. Combined with other safety strategies, the
ACP can help a victim start a new life.
The ACP is not for everyone. A victim services professional from a domestic violence program can help determine if ACP should be part of the victim's safety plan.
Who May Apply?
Any of the following people may apply to the ACP:
A person who is a victim of domestic violence;
A parent or guardian of a minor child who fears for the safety of the minor child; or
The guardian of a disabled person, if the guardian fears for the safety of
the disabled person.
How Does Someone Apply?
We encourage all applicants to apply through a trained Application Assistant
in one of the domestic violence program offices located throughout the State.
The Application Assistant will help a victim decide if ACP should be part of
their safety plan, explain ACP services, explain the participant's responsibilities,
and assist with the completion of the application materials. The applicant will
mail the completed application to the ACP.
What Happens as a Participant?
Once accepted into the ACP, the participant will receive a packet of information
which includes the ACP authorization card. The ACP card includes the participant's
name, signature, their substitute address, and their individual ACP number.
It is the participant's responsibility to tell State and local government
agencies that they participate in the ACP. Enrollment is for 4 years
unless cancelled by the participant or ACP.
ACP participants designate the Secretary of State as their agent for service
of process and for receipt of mail. The Secretary of State accepts legal documents
on their behalf. The participant may not avoid legal responsibilities by refusing
to accept mail forwarded by the ACP. The ACP's receipt of documents is considered
the participant's receipt of those documents. Accordingly, the participant
is legally responsible for obligations contained in all documents at the time
of receipt by the ACP.
Although the Office of Secretary of State may verify the participation
of a participant in the Program, the Office may not otherwise disclose any records
of a participant without a court order.
What is the Substitute Address?
Each ACP participant is allowed to use our Post Office Box address - P.O. Box
2995, Annapolis, Maryland 21404-2995. This legal, substitute address has no
relation to the participant's actual residential address. The participant
may also use the substitute address as a return address on mail sent.
Each day, ACP staff collects
the mail and forwards first-class mail, registered mail, certified mail, and legal
papers to the mailing address designated by the participant. The ACP does not
forward magazines or packages. Because their mail comes to the P.O. Box in Annapolis
first, participants will experience a delay in delivery of first-class mail or
legal papers to their confidential mailing address. However, the ACP will do its
best to forward mail promptly.
How Does a Participant Work with State and Local
ACP participants should use the ACP substitute address every time they interact
with State and local government agencies. If an agency has questions about the
program or use of the address, ask the agency to call ACP at the number on the
back of the card. If participants provide State or local government agencies with
their actual address, it could become public information.
The ACP has special
procedures in place for participants to interact with the Motor Vehicle Administration,
State Board of Elections, and Public Schools (including community colleges).
Using special procedures at the Motor Vehicle Administration, participants can
obtain a driver's license without revealing their residential address.
Board of Elections has an address confidentiality program that allows voters to
have their actual address suppressed and therefore not part of any public record.
The ACP urges participants who are eligible voters to apply to vote as an absentee
voter. The ACP also urges participants not to use the Motor Voter system because
doing so could compromise their actual address records.
When a student presents
his or her ACP authorization card, the school must accept the ACP substitute address.
The student does not have to disclose his or her actual address. Verification
of enrollment eligibility and transfer of school records are handled by ACP staff.
Private companies (like department stores, banks, phone companies, insurance agents)
do not have to accept the substitute address, but most businesses are willing
to do so. The participant should not hesitate to ask them to send their first-class
mail to their ACP substitute address.
What are Other Things to Remember?
Each participant will receive an ACP number. The personal ACP number will be unique
and must be included on all of the participant's mail.
If a participant moves
or has a change of name or phone number, the ACP must be notified as soon as possible.
Upon entering or leaving the ACP, a participant should not notify the U.S. Post
Office of any address change. The ACP will advise the participant of the best
way to redirect their mail.
ACP enrollment is effective for 4 years. A program
participant must reapply if continuation in the program is desired.