Notary Bulletin

Hotline Tip: Are Thumbprints Required For All Notarizations?

Is it necessary to obtain thumbprints for every document that is notarized in California, or does that rule just apply to deeds? J.B., Costa Mesa, CA

Current law requires a journal thumbprint for all documents affecting real property — not just deeds, quitclaim deeds and deeds of trust — as well as all power of attorney documents (Government Code, Section 8206). The only exceptions are a trustee's deed resulting from a decree of foreclosure; a nonjudicial foreclosure pursuant to Civil Code Section 2924 or a deed of reconveyance.

On all other documents, obtaining the signer’s thumbprint in the journal is not required; however, it is a practice that is recommended by the National Notary Association. Increasingly, Notaries are asking document signers to leave a thumbprint for all notarial transactions. It is a strong deterrent to forgery, as it represents absolute proof of the signer's identity and proves the signer was present before the Notary. Nothing prevents a Notary from asking for a thumbprint for every notarial act, if the signer is willing. However, a Notary 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 journal thumbprint.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes.— The Editors

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

Related Articles:
How Do I…Take A Thumbprint
?
New Thumbprint Requirements for Real Estate Documents

Journal Thumbprint Helps Lead To Murder Conviction

Additional Resources:
California New Law Update webinar
For answers to your specific questions, check out the NNA Hotline
Purchase a Thumbprinter from the NNA

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions.

(888) 876-0827

Monday through Friday:
5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Saturdays: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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