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Who May View A Notary Signing Agent's Journal Entries?

journal-privacy2-resized.jpgUpdated 8-22-18. Notary Signing Agents are required to keep a signer's information in their journal records private. But what should you do if a lender, title company or signing service asks to look at your journal entries before they will offer you assignments? Remember that you can't bend federal and state privacy laws, no matter who asks. 

Privacy Rules For Notary Journals

Notary Signing Agents should not allow a company to view noncustomer journal records containing private personal information. Title companies are responsible for protecting confidential customer financial information under the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and inspecting journal entries that do not involve customers of the title company would violate GLBA rules. Subject to the exceptions listed below, the NNA recommends signing agents refuse to allow potential contracting companies to view their journals, since signing agents are bound to protect nonpublic personal information under the same GLBA rules.

State-Specific Exceptions

Some states proscribe rules for providing access to journal entries that are exceptions to the normal privacy guidelines discussed above. Unless one of these stated exceptions applies, Notary Signing Agents should not allow a title company to inspect their journals as a condition to receiving assignments with that company.

Arizona — A journal entry that is a public record may be viewed by any person who presents a written request that details the name of the person whose signature was notarized, the month and year the act took place and the type of document or transaction (ARS 41-319[F]). Note that Arizona authorizes Notaries to keep a separate journal for notarial acts that are not public records. Journal entries that are not public records include entries containing information covered by attorney-client privilege or that are confidential pursuant to federal or state law. Journals that contain nonpublic records are the property of the Notary’s employer (usually a law firm) and must be kept confidential (ARS 41-319[A]).

California — Government Code 8206[d] states that the journal is the exclusive property of the Notary and prohibits a Notary from surrendering the journal to any person. The exceptions are a peace officer if the journal contains evidence related to a criminal investigation or to the county clerk when the Notary ends his or her career as a Notary.

However, a California Notary must provide a photocopy of a journal entry to anyone making a written request that includes the name of the parties involved in the notarization, the type of document, and the month and year the notarization took place (Government Code 8206[c]). A Notary-employee must permit an employer to inspect journal entries that are directly associated with the employer’s business provided the Notary is physically present. The employer may not require Notary employees to provide access to journal entries unrelated to the employer’s business (Government Code 8206[d]).

Colorado  Any member of the public may present a written request which includes the name of the parties, the type of document, and the month and year in which a record was notarized. Upon receiving this request, a Notary may provide a certified copy of the line item representing the requested transaction and charge the fee allowed in CRS Section 24-21-529. The Notary must  record the transaction in the Notary’s journal (CRS 24-21-519[5]).

Hawaii — Hawaii Notaries must allow inspection of journal records by any responsible person without fee or reward (HRS 502-73).

Maryland — Notaries must provide a certified copy of any entry in the journal to any person who makes the request and pays the fee (ACM St. Gov. 18-107).

Massachusetts — Notary journals may only be inspected without restriction by law enforcement, if subpoenaed by court order, or when the Secretary of the Commonwealth orders the Notary to surrender the journal (GL 222 Sec. 22[g]).

Mississippi — A Notary must provide photocopies of journal records to a person who requests them and pays the legal fee (MCA 25-33-5). Any person may inspect a journal entry in the Notary’s presence during regular business hours if (a) the person is personally known or provides satisfactory proof of identity to the Notary; (b) the person requesting the inspection signs a separate, dated entry in the Notary’s journal; (c) the person specifies the month, year, type of document and name of the principal for the notarial acts; and (d) the person is only shown the entries specified in the request. Only law enforcement, a court issuing a subpoena or the Secretary of State can request an unrestricted inspection of a Mississippi Notary’s journal. The Notary may deny access to the journal if the Notary has a reasonable and explainable belief that a person bears a criminal or harmful intent in requesting information from the journal (MS Administrative Code Title 1 Part 5 Rule 5.17[A],[B] and [C]).

Missouri — A Notary, upon written court order, must furnish copies of entries made in the Notary’s journal or any other papers or copies relating to the Notary’s official notarial acts. The Notary may receive a fee of $1 per 8 1/2-x-11-inch page or part of a page (RSMo 486.270).

Nevada — A Nevada Notary’s journal is open to public inspection without qualification (NRS 240.120[6]).

Oregon — Only Notaries who are public officials or employees are obligated to disclose journal records under Oregon’s public records laws (ORS 192.410-192.505). A Notary who is not  public official or employee is exempt from disclosing the journal contents, unless requested by the Secretary of State under OAC 160-100-0430(6).

Pennsylvania  A Notary must give a certified copy of the journal to a person who applies for it (47 Pa.C.S. 319[g.1]).

Texas — Texas Notaries must provide a certified copy of any requested entry upon payment of the fee allowed by law within 10 days of the receipt of the fees (Government Code Section 406.014 and Texas Administrative Code, Title 1, Section 87.42). If the Notary can't provide the certified copy by the 10th business day, the Notary must certify this fact in writing to the person requesting the copy on or before the 10th business day. The Notary must set a reasonable date and hour by which the certified copy will be provided and provide the copy by that date and time. If the Notary has inadvertently included personal identifiable information in the entry contrary to 1 TAC Section 82.50, the Notary must redact that personal information prior to the release of the certified copy. 

Bill Anderson is Vice President of Legislative Affairs with the National Notary Association. David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

9 Comments

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elaine.webster@wellsfargoadvisors.com

10 Jul 2014

Can your employer ask you to photocopy your entire journal each year when they pay for your notary costs? They prohibit notaries to perform any other notarial acts other than for the company clients and company employees

Wendy Cottrell

01 Jun 2017

Is their a standard fee in Maryland to request a copy of a Notary's journal? Can a Notary notorize their own signature?

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2017

Hello. Maryland Notaries are prohibited from notarizing their own signatures. The fee for providing a photocopy of an entry in the register is $1.00 per copy (CMR 01.02.08.03C).

Regina

26 Aug 2018

If a court issue arises, can a journal be subpoenaed?

National Notary Association

27 Aug 2018

Hello. Yes. For an example of a journal being subpoenaed in California, please see this Hotline Tip: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/09/can-lawyer-subpoena-sections-notary-journal. Situations in other states may differ based on individual state law.

Andrea T

27 Aug 2018

I am renewing my notary and notice the register has a place for a finger print is that required?

National Notary Association

27 Aug 2018

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Judy K Coultry

28 Aug 2018

i'm still confused about who see the notary journal entries. Is it public record? The TN attorney General clarifies that the records of a Notary Public are public records. On the NNA test there are several choices for the answer. If I am in TN do I answer public record meaning that the answers are state specific?

National Notary Association

30 Aug 2018

Hello. We're sorry, but because the Notary Signing Agent exam is a qualification test rather than an educational tool, we can only provide your final score, and we are unable to provide correct answers or indicate which questions you missed.

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