Notarizations protect the integrity and authenticity of important business and personal transactions. But a record of notarial acts protects the notarization process as well as the Notary, the signer, relying parties and the general public. If a notarization is ever challenged, the information contained within your journal act can help demonstrate that you followed proper and legally mandated procedures or that a particular individual actually signed the document. Therefore, the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices encourages all Notaries to:
Always keep a chronological record of the notarial act, including the signature of the signer in your journal, which must be kept in your custody and control at all times.
Unless otherwise required by law, a record of a notarization should include the date, time and type of notarial act; the date and description of the document being notarized; the name, address and signature of each person whose signature you notarized; a description of how you identified the signer; and the fee, if any, charged for the notarization. Entries should be made chronologically in a bound journal, making it harder to hide evidence of tampering. And you should always maintain control over the journal, keeping it locked in a safe place when not in use, to prevent loss, theft or tampering.
Editor’s Note: Throughout 2011, the Notary Bulletin will focus on one of the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices each month. The complete list of Recommended Notary Practices is available online.