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April 13, 2012

Do notary journals need to be kept under lock and key?

Do notary journals need to be kept under lock and key?
Notary rules differ from state to state. Many states don’t even require a notary to have a journal, or notary seal.  However, California requires the use of both a notary journal and seal, and both must be kept under lock and key.  However, there is a catch.  The currently used journal must be locked up and access must exclusive to the notary public that it belongs to.  Co-workers and bosses can not look at the journal without the notary being present.  USED journals that have been filled out to their completion can be stored at the notary’s home, office, etc., but don’t need to be locked up. 
When a notary’s commission is over, they must return all journals (California notary journals) (current and completed) to the county clerk’s office or whatever agency the notary division in their state appoints for them.
California notary journal rules might not apply to other states, but you should be careful with your journal and seal in any case as it contains really important information. Additionally your California notary seal, or seal from another state could be used for fraud, so you need to prevent that from happening if possible.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101 — Journals
This is a more comprehensive guide to understanding using Notary journals although we do have supplemental reading as well.

Index of posts about journals

A detective seizes a journal and complains about a blurry thumbprint



  1. No matter what state you live in, it only makes sense that you protect everything that pertains to your Commission and any confidential information obtained through your notarial duties even if it means you keep it under lock and key. I live by the rule that no matter what the circumstance is, nobody shall be privy to my journal or have access to my seal (especially a boss or coworker) unless they have a Court Order requiring me to divulge that information. The only entity that will ever see my journal will be the Secretary of State if and when I decide to no longer renew my Commission as the State of New Hampshire requires us to turn our records over to them when we are through with our Notarial Duties. It would not matter to me if my boss was the lawyer who prepared the documents I notarized. My records reflect everything I have notarized which contains other entities as well. My journal is private regardless of who you are and would basically take an Act of Congress to get me to open it. In my humble opinion, a Notary Public bears a legal responsibility equivalent to that of the attorney/client privilege when it comes to the confidentiality of information and must therefore protect that information to the best of his or her ability especially since we are notarizing legal documents.

    I have been a Notary Public since 1985. The State of New Hampshire required Notaries to keep a journal back then and still does to this day. It is also mandated that a Notary’s seal must be kept under lock and key if it is accessible to others in the workplace or other public forum. Unfortunately, not every Notary in this state keeps a journal as they feel it is too much work recording every signature and document especially when notarizing a loan package in excess of 100 pages and requires 10 or more notarized signatures. I have a very detailed record of every single document I have notarized over the past 27 years and feel secure knowing that I have followed the law to the letter. Just imagine how much money it would cost and work it would be to have to prove you did not botch a document or perform an illegal action that you have no record of.

    Comment by Debi — April 15, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  2. How about a password protected notary journal. Many states are lax about stating in statute that notary journals be kept under lock and key. At http://www.myinotary.com, we employ the iPhone to create notary journal entries. The only way to get into the iNotary app and the website is to enter a username and password. This is truly the only way to make a journal secure.

    Comment by Andrew — April 16, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

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