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February 3, 2012

Must a thumbprint accompany a notarized document?

Filed under: Legal Issues,SEO,Technical & Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 9:38 am

Must a thumbprint accompany a notarized document? 

To deter fraud in notarizing, thumbprints are sometimes required by law in certain states, but are always a good idea.  California notary law stipulates that the notary must take a journal thumbprint when notarizing signatures on powers of attorney or deeds effecting real property such as Grant Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds, Mortgages, Subordination Agreements, etc.   Other states have their own rules.  Texas has some rules restricting the use of thumbprints, but I don’t know enough about those restrictions to comment.
Prevent fraud
As a general rule, if the notary public you use takes a journal thumbprint (many do not bother with this or even own a thumbprinting pad), you have more security.  The thumbprint is proof that nobody faked an ID and pretended to be you, or forged your signature.
Serious documents should have a thumbprint
If you are having a serious document notarized, you might ask ahead of time if the notary carries a thumbprinting pad.  They are two inches in diameter and weigh about half an ounce, so it is not a burden to the notary, assuming he/she is prudent about notarizing (that is assuming a lot).
Does the thumbprint go on the actual document?
I have never heard of a procedure which requires a thumbprint on an actual document, but it is not a bad idea. You could neatly put it to the right of a signature and document which thumb was used from which individual.  If you are missing a thumb, you can use the other thumb or a finger, just document it somewhere.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – identification

Notice to title companies about thumbprinting

Identification and thumbprint requirements for notarizations

Signing agent best practices

Notary thumbprints can save your neck



  1. Serious documents? I thought they were all serious. Most signers expect getting printed however the California notary is requires to obtain a thumbprint for recordable documents dealing with real property transfers and Powers of Attorney. California notaries are supposed to be consistent so once you start printing signers for everything the state would want you to keep it up so as not to appear discriminatory.

    Comment by Joe Ewing — February 3, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

  2. Although a Notary may request a thumbprint, under California law, they are required only for documents affecting real property (such as deeds, etc.) and power of attorney documents.
    Some signers may not wish to provide the print due to privacy / identity theft concerns.
    Under California law, a Notary Public may not refuse to notarize a document if the signer has complied with all other laws governing notarization and the document type is not one that requires a thumbprint.
    National Notary Association said this in a 2013 “hotline tip” response.

    Comment by Burt Peterson — September 12, 2015 @ 1:12 am

  3. Agreed with the comments. “Serious documents” is really a relative thing. A California Notary should really know when to request a thumbprint and when not to. I know a lot of Notaries that collect at thumbprint for everything, but I feel like this is kind of disservice to the signatory. While I understand the Notary trying to cover his or her bases, I think that security of the signatory is a real concern and as a Notary Public we should be able to differentiate between the types of documents that do or don’t require a thumbprint. Just my two cents. Cheers!

    Comment by Kyle Eisenberg — January 4, 2019 @ 2:26 am

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