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Hotline Tip: Are Thumbprints Required For All Notarizations?

NNA Hotline Tips For NotariesIs 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) 876-0827Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST


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Ralienne Garcia

18 Jan 2017

Need to know

Jacqueline A Phillips

29 May 2017

Does this law apply to Virginia notaries?

Patti Sienko

31 May 2017

does Nevada require thumb prints in notary book/ on documents?

National Notary Association

01 Jun 2017

Hello. No, Nevada does not require a thumbprint for a Notary's journal entry.

Patti Sienko

31 May 2017

Does Nevada have a Master Notary List so I can locate a notary on a Document

National Notary Association

01 Jun 2017

Hello. Your best option if you are attempting to locate a Notary would be to contact the NV Secretary of State's office at 1-775-684-5708 and ask if they can assist you with your query.

Molly Dayton

14 Jun 2017

Is a thumbprint required for the state of Michigan on notaries?

National Notary Association

14 Jun 2017

Hello Molly. Because Michigan Notaries are not required by law to keep a journal, there is no requirement to take a thumbprint in Michigan for your Notary journal entries.


30 Jun 2017

Does it make a legal difference in California WHICH thumb is used for a print?

National Notary Association

03 Jul 2017

“If the document to be notarized is a deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust or other document affecting real property, or a power of attorney document, the notary public shall require the party signing the document to place his or her right thumbprint in the journal. If the right thumbprint is not available, then the notary shall have the party use his or her left thumb, or any available finger and shall so indicate in the journal." (GC 8206[a][2][G]).


20 Jul 2017

Is a copyright assignment considered 'real property'? I'm doing a lot of these to transfer the ownership of artwork over to the company I work for and can't find anything saying I need to acquire a thumb print. I know, best practice and all, but I would like to just know for my own information and in case someone ever refuses.

Ana Karina rodriguez

22 Sep 2017

Is a thumbprint required for CA notarization if it was an acknowledgment for a court letter not affecting or related to real property

National Notary Association

22 Sep 2017

Please see this article for more information:


16 Apr 2018

Does the state of Maryland requires thumb print?

National Notary Association

17 Apr 2018

Hello. No, Maryland does not require Notaries to obtain a thumbprint for their journal entries.

Carrie Wiedmaier

27 Apr 2018

My new notary journal has a space for fingerprints. Is this required in the State of Arizona? If so, just certain documents; or all documents?

National Notary Association

30 Apr 2018

Hello. Arizona Notaries are not required to ask for a fingerprint for journal entries. An AZ Notary's journal must include the following information: 1. The date of the notarial act; 2. A description of the document or type of notarial act; 3. The printed full name, signature and address of each person for whom a notarial act is performed; 4. The type of satisfactory evidence of identity for each person for whom the notarial act is performed, if other than the Notary’s personal knowledge, including a description of the identification document, its serial or ID number, and its date of issuance or expiration; 5. The fee, if any, charged for the notarial act. (ARS 41-319[A])


30 Apr 2018

My new notary journal has a space for fingerprints. Is this required in the State of Washington? If so, just certain documents; or all documents?

National Notary Association

30 Apr 2018

Hello. Effective July 1, 2018, Washington Notaries will be required to keep a journal of their acts and must record the following information in their journal entries: (a) the date and time of the notarial act; (b) a description of the record, if any; (c) a description of the notarial act; (d) the full name and address of each individual for whom a notarial act is performed; and (e) any additional information as required by the Director of Licensing in rule. For more information, please see here:


26 Jun 2018

Does Kentucky require a thumbprint in the notary journal?

National Notary Association

27 Jun 2018

Hello. No, Kentucky does not require Notaries to keep a journal, though state officials recommend it.

Carla Whitfield

28 Oct 2018

Thank you

Aneika Moore

06 Nov 2018

Hi, Does Mississippi require thumbprints?

National Notary Association

07 Nov 2018

Hello. Mississippi does not require thumbprints for Notary journal entries.

Jonathan Zimmer

11 Feb 2019

Does the District of Columbia require thumbprints for Notary journal entries?

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2019

Hello. No.

inez reddick

12 Feb 2019

Does NJ require thumbprint ?

National Notary Association

15 Feb 2019

Hello. New Jersey does not have a journal requirement for its Notaries, so state law does not provide guidance regarding taking a thumbprint for a journal entry.

Chris Hancock

02 Sep 2019

Does Maine require thumbprints? For like anything?

National Notary Association

03 Sep 2019

Hello. The following is from Maine's Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide: “Maine law does not allow nor does it require, as some other states do, a Notary Public to record a finger or thumb print in a notarial record book or journal. The Secretary of State strongly recommends that Notaries Public do not undertake finger printing in any way until Maine law determines the need for this process as part of standard notarial practice”


16 Sep 2019

Does New York state require thumbprint ?

National Notary Association

23 Sep 2019

Hello. New York does not have a journal requirement for Notaries, and therefore does not require a journal entry thumbprint from the signer.

25 Nov 2019

Does MO require a thumbprint

25 Nov 2019

Hello. No, Missouri does not require a signer's thumbprint for a Notary's journal entry. The following information is required for a MO Notary's journal (RSMo 486.260): 1. The month, day and year of notarization; 2. The type of notarization (e.g., acknowledgment or jurat); 3. The type of document notarized; 4. The name, signature and address of the signer; 5. The identification used to identify the signer; 6. The fee charged for the notarization.

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