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How To Handle Requests For Your Notary Journal Entries

Protecting signer privacy when someone inspects your Notary journal

Updated 4-24-18. For most Notaries, requests for copies of their journal records are not everyday occurrences. But they happen more often than you’d think, according to the NNA’s Hotline staff. And Notaries often don’t know how to handle them.

People make these requests because your Notary journal entries provide valuable information about each notarization, which can be important later if a document’s validity is challenged. A request for copies of journal entries can come from just about anyone — your signer, other parties to the transaction, commissioning officials and even law enforcement agencies. However, because of the sensitive information recorded in a journal, you always need to take the proper steps to protect a signer’s privacy when someone asks to view or copy a journal entry.

Step 1: Follow Your State Notary Requirements
 

Whenever someone asks to review or copy one of your Notary journal entries, follow your state laws and guidelines.

For example, some Arizona Notaries are required to keep two separate journals — one for public notarizations and one for notarizations related to confidential transactions, such as those covered by attorney-client privilege. If you are one of these Notaries, you may only provide copies from your public journal.

California allows any member of the public to request a copy of a journal entry, but the request must be in writing and include specific details about the notarization requested (see below). A California Notary who is an employee may be asked to provide copies of journal entries about work-related notarizations by an employer, provided the copying is done in the Notary's presence. An employer may not force a California Notary to provide copies of notarizations unrelated to the Notary's employment. 

In Massachusetts, if a signer or witness tells you that they are a battered person, you must make a note in the journal that the person’s address shall not be subject to public inspection. On the other hand, Nevada permits any person to openly inspect the Notary’s journal during the time the Notary would normally be at work, and entries in a Texas Notary’s journal are considered “public information” to any person requesting a certified copy.

In Oregon, unless the Notary is a public official or public employee, or the journal is in the possession of the Secretary of State, the Notary is exempt from disclosing journal contents required under Oregon’s open public records law except when requested by the Secretary of State. If a customer needs to see or obtain a copy of the journal entry for their transaction, the Notary may provide the requested entry.

If you are served with a subpoena or court order, you should fully comply with the terms of the order.

Step 2: Get The Request In Writing
 

Unless you’re commissioned in a state that allows a journal to be inspected or copied without qualification or limitation, requests should be in writing. This is required by law in California, where a request must include the names of the parties to the notarization, the type of document notarized and the month and year the notarization took place.

In Hawaii, a request for a copy of a notarial record must first be submitted in writing to the state Attorney General’s office.

Some states have additional requirements: Massachusetts and Mississippi, for example, require a person asking for a journal entry copy to personally know or present satisfactory evidence of identity to the Notary; and they must sign the Notary’s journal specifying the month, year, type of document and name of any person involved in the notarization. California requires a written request for a copy of a Notary's journal entry to include the names of the parties involved, the type of document and the month and year the notarization took place. 

For states that do not have laws or rules regarding journal entry requests, such as FloridaThe Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends that the request should be made in writing and include the names of the signer or signers; the document type; and the month and year of the notarization. You also should verify the identity of the requester.

Step 3: Protect Other Journal Entries
 

Unless your state allows journals to be openly inspected, a person asking to see or copy an item should only be allowed access to entries directly related to their request. To protect the privacy of other signers, always cover unrelated entries on the same page as the entry you are copying. This prevents people from flipping through your journal looking at random entries to find information. However this best practice would not apply in Nevada and Texas, where journal entries are considered public information and are available for open inspection. If a Texas Notary is asked for access to a journal entry made prior to 2009-2010, the Notary should cover any ID numbers or thumbprints in the entry, because Texas Notaries are no longer permitted to record this information under state law.  California and Mississippi grant police or other state officials permission to inspect a Notary’s journal without restriction during an investigation or under court order or subpoena.

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

19 Comments

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kimberly hagan

20 Apr 2015

How can I download notarial certificates for Virginia when it doesn't contain wording

Christina M

15 May 2016

Hello. I have not been able to find such a product myself, but do you happen to know if some kind of "entry protector" or "entry viewer" cover up sheet is available to purchase anywhere? That, meaning a sheet with a slot cut into it wide enough to single out only one entry, and is able to be placed over any entry on a page. Does this sound familiar? I am thinking maybe I will have to make one, have not had to use one yet but it is always a thought in the back of my head... since the only other alternative I have would be to copy the page the first time, then place Black marker or white out over the first copy and copy a second time, that is a bit time consuming and what if I have to show an entry in person? How do I protect confidentiality of the entries? I am in California if that makes a difference.

Melinda J B Dupre

27 Jun 2016

How do you send e-notarization in the state of Maryland?

Phyllis A Raines

26 Sep 2016

Retrieving Notary entry data is very vague... I need an entry in Sep. 2007. I believe the notary was illegally copied and used for corruption purposes. Who do I ask for a specific entry in Sept 2007??

Karen Winther

08 May 2017

https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-privacy-guard

anon

08 May 2017

Phyllis. Nobody. It has been too long. There is absolutely nothing you can do.

James W

08 May 2017

Notaries in FL are not required to keep a Journal. If I keep one for my own travel and tax records, is it subject to requests to examine an entries, by anyone?

National Notary Association

09 May 2017

Hello. While officials in Florida recommend keeping a journal, because it is not required by law, state statutes do not address the issue of providing journal entries to the public upon request.

blusafe

08 May 2017

For entry covers, I use old paper folders with large binder clips to cover older entries. A little clumsy but works just fine.

Diane

15 May 2017

I'm in California and work for a government agency. 99.99% of my notarizations are for my work. If my boss wants to review my journal, does the request still need to be in writing with month, year, parties, etc.? Also, what do we do with the written requests once the task is completed. Do we keep them?

National Notary Association

15 May 2017

Hello. In California: "A Notary Public who is an employee shall permit inspection and copying of journal transactions by a duly designated auditor or agent of the Notary public’s employer, provided that the inspection and copying is done in the presence of the Notary Public and the transactions are directly associated with the business purposes of the employer. The Notary Public, upon the request of the employer, shall regularly provide copies of all transactions that are directly associated with the business purposes of the employer, but shall not be required to provide copies of any transaction that is unrelated to the employer’s business. Confidentiality and safekeeping of any copies of the journal provided to the employer shall be the responsibility of that employer" (GC 8206[d]).

Marie B

28 Jun 2017

If someone is requesting a journal entry from a journal I've already returned to my clerk recorder- who do I contact to get the entry for the request? The SOS does not respond in California

National Notary Association

29 Jun 2017

Hello. If the recorder's office has custody of the journal, the person making the request should be directed to that office.

Sunny

01 Mar 2018

I am needing a notary entry which was done at AAA. I called and was told that the log book was now transferred to the city since it was in 2015. Shall I request this from the City Recorder's Office or is it the responsibility of AAA to get this for me if I provide the request in writing with all the information they need. This is for the State of California. Thank you

National Notary Association

02 Mar 2018

Hello. You should contact the Recorder's office to request access, since the journal is now in their custody.

Tauheedah Amatullah-Rahim

30 Apr 2018

Hey Everybody: Do you have to keep a journal if you are not accepting money for your notary services, such as your work place?

National Notary Association

30 Apr 2018

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

Russell O'Brien

01 May 2018

What is the requirement in NY? If someone wants to see my journal, do I have the right to refuse? Am I allowed to make a photo copy of that specific entry if I decide to oblige?

National Notary Association

02 May 2018

Hello. Because New York Notaries Public are not required by law to keep a record of the notarial acts they perform, the state does not provide guidelines regarding access to journal entries. In situations where state law does not provide guidance, Article VIII-B-1 of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends asking signers who wish to examine your journal entries to provide you with a written request specifying the month, year, document type and name of signer involved in the journal entry the signer wishes to see. The signer should only be given access to the entries requested. Unrelated entries should be covered or otherwises concealed to protect the privacy of unrelated information in the journal.

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