Maryland Encourages "Less Paper" In Franchise Registration Filings

As many state government employees have begun working from home, the prospect of franchise administrators having to ship piles and piles of FDDs to their homes has begun to sink in. In the latest response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Maryland is encouraging franchisors to reduce the paper they use in their annual registration filings. Yesterday, the state released the following guidance:

Effective immediately, franchise registration applications may be filed with the Maryland Securities Division on CD-ROM alone, rather than on both CD-ROM and paper.   Maryland still requires payment of the applicable filing fee by check, made payable to “Office of the Attorney General,” and the CD-ROM should be filed with a paper cover letter or application page (Form A) identifying the name of the franchise, type of filing, and file number, if assigned.  Unfortunately, at this time, we still cannot accept applications or responses to comment letters via e-mail.

The CD-ROM must include one PDF file with all of the application forms; a separate PDF file with a clean version of the franchisor’s Franchise Disclosure Document; and, where required, a separate PDF file with a blacklined version of the Franchise Disclosure Document, marked (in line) to show changes.  Each PDF file on the CD-ROM should be identified by a descriptive name. 

We also request, if possible, that the PDF files containing the Franchise Disclosure Documents be text searchable.  

If you have any questions about this notice, please contact Dale E. Cantone at dcantone@oag.state.md.us.  

Disappointingly, the state hasn’t yet instituted an e-filing system like the ones currently available from states like California, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. A physical filing package will still need to be sent to the state in each case, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

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