The Maryland Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) was established by State law in 2006. Administered by the Office of the Secretary of State, the ACP works closely with government agencies and private companies to keep the location information of survivors and threatened individuals off public record. The ACP empowers Maryland residents who have recently relocated or intend to relocate to a new address to protect themselves and seek stability as active members of society without fearing for their safety.
The Program has two components:
- Substitute Address - the ACP assigns a legal substitute address for participants to use in place of a home, work, or school address. State law requires all individuals to accept the substitute address.
- Mail-forwarding Service - ACP participants designate the Secretary of State at their agent to receive first-class, certified, and registered mail as well as service of process. Participant mail is forwarded free of charge to their confidential address.
The goal of the Address Confidentiality Program is to help victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, 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 or a human trafficking program can help determine if ACP should be part of the victim's safety plan.
Any of the following people may apply to the ACP:
- A person who is a victim of domestic violence and/or human trafficking;
- 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.
We encourage all applicants to apply through a trained Application Assistant in one of the domestic violence or human trafficking 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.
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.
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.
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.
- The State 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.
- 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.