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Quiz: Journal Issues

Keeping a journal of your notarial acts is essential to protecting your signers from fraud and yourself from liability. Do you know the best methods for recording entries, protecting the privacy of signer information and how to deal with requests to see entries? Take our quiz and test your knowledge of journal best practices.




1. When a member of the public requests access to your journal:
A. They may look through any entries, because the journal is a public record
B. They must be refused — only government or law enforcement personnel have the right to view journal entries
C. They must submit a request according to state law or should submit such a request and may only view entries relevant to their request
D. None of the above

ANSWER: C. A member of the public may ask to see a Notary’s journal entry, but may only see entries that are relevant to their request. The person making the request should follow state rules when making the request — for example, California requires a written request be submitted detailing the names of the parties involved, the type of document and the month and year the notarization took place. If a member of the public wants to physically inspect the journal entry page, the Notary should cover or conceal unrelated entries on the same page to ensure privacy. For states that do not stipulate when and how a journal may be inspected, the NNA recommends that Notaries only show an individual journal entry upon receiving a written request that details the month and year of notarization, the document type and the name of the signer or signers.

2. Requesting a signer’s thumbprint for a journal entry:
A. Is a good practice because it deters potential fraud and provides clear evidence of the signer’s identity
B. Is a recommended practice even if not required by state law
C. Can be refused by the signer unless state notarial law requires it
D. All of the above

ANSWER: D. Asking for a signer’s thumbprint for your journal entry is one of the best ways to deter fraud and protect yourself from liability. Few dishonest persons are willing to try defrauding a Notary if they know they will be leaving a thumbprint as evidence of what they did, and the thumbprint in a journal entry can be used as evidence the Notary acted appropriately if accused of negligence or error. A journal thumbprint is required for certain documents in California and is required on the Notarial Record form Illinois Notaries must complete for all reconveyances of residential real property in Cook County. However, signers in states that do not have a statutory thumbprint requirement may refuse to provide one if they choose, and a Notary must perform the notarial act if the request for notarization is otherwise lawful.

3. True or False: When I complete a journal entry, I should make a copy of the document being notarized and attach it to the page.

Answer: False. The information you record in the journal entry provides the necessary record of the notarization. Photocopying a signer’s document in order to attach it to your journal page is unnecessary and an inappropriate intrusion into the signer’s privacy.

4. True or False: Notaries can share the use of a single journal for their entries only if their employer authorizes it and paid for each Notary’s commission.

Answer: False. No state authorizes multiple Notaries to share the same journal for their records. Each Notary must maintain their own separate journal of notarial acts.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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12 Oct 2015

Very nice - always great to get refreshed on NNA laws.................

12 Oct 2016

I'm in CA. Can the date and time of journal entry be out of sequence in my journal? For example at my workplace a document required a notary. The next day my boss brings me an item that requires a notary but he signed it's has yesterday's date.

National Notary Association

14 Oct 2016

Hello. Government Code 8206[a][1] states that the journal must be kept in sequential order, so it would not be appropriate to make entries out of chronological order. Also, even if your boss signed at a previous time, the date on the notarial certificate wording may not be backdated--you must enter the actual time the notarization takes place in the certificate wording.

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