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Notary Tip: Thumbprints and privacy issues

Notary thumbprint and privacy issues article

Updated 2-14-23. Collecting signer thumbprints for a journal entry has long been considered an effective way to deter fraud. But Notaries must always respect and protect a signer's privacy when requesting a thumbprint. 

The case for Notaries collecting thumbprints

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, biometrics, such as thumbprints, are the "measurable biological (anatomical or physiological) or behavioral characteristics used for the identification of an individual."

As a biometric identifier, a signer's thumbprint affixed in a journal of notarial acts offers irrefutable identification of the signer and helps Notaries prevent impersonation and/or forgery. It is for this reason that the practice is still heralded in some areas, particularly for transactions involving real estate and powers of attorney documents.

However, currently only one state, California, requires a journal thumbprint record for all documents affecting real property, as well as all powers of attorney. (Government Code, Section 8206.)

California law enforcement and public prosecutors have lauded the value of thumbprints as effective in preventing and prosecuting frauds.

Notary privacy issues and collecting signer thumbprints

Despite the value of collecting thumbprints as a safeguard against fraud, there are issues associated with the practice; namely, privacy concerns and tightening regulations regarding the collection of such biometric data.

We now live in an age filled with high-tech fraud, identity theft and corporate data breaches that can, in an instant, expose the personal and financial information of millions of consumers. This ongoing concern over individuals' private information, particularly regarding the collection, use and storage of certain biometric identifiers, has become a major problem — one that some states and even private businesses are looking to regulate. Several of these changes directly impact how Notaries are allowed to collect and retain signer thumbprints.

Texas law, for example, prohibits Notaries from recording biometric information such as a thumbprint in a journal entry (1 TAC 87.50[a][3]). Texas Notaries who are authorized to perform remote online notarizations may not release audiovisual recordings of a notarization that includes a person's biometric information unless the person gives permission or the record is requested by a court or the Secretary of State (1 TAC 87.52[b]).

Utah's remote online notarization law requires a remote Notary to keep an electronic journal, including an audio and video recording, of each notarization the remote Notary performs. The electronic journal entry must include a description of the dynamic knowledge-based authentication or biometric data (such as a fingerprint) that was used to provide satisfactory evidence of identity [UCA] Subsection 46-1-2(19)(a)(ii).

And it's not just state governments that are seeking to regulate the collection of thumbprints. A major mortgage lender issued a bulletin prohibiting the Notary Signing Agents handling its loans from collecting thumbprints in their journals if they did not have a Notary commission in a state that required it (only California at present). In states that do not have a thumbprint requirement such as Florida, Notaries may not refuse to notarize because a signer does not wish to provide a thumbprint. 

Given this heightened caution about guarding personal identifying information, it is important for Notaries to know ahead of time if their state allows or regulates the collection and usage of signer thumbprints and proceed accordingly. NNA members can contact the Notary Hotline anytime they are unsure of their state’s regulations regarding thumbprinting.


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Add your comment

Shari Erickson

27 Jul 2015

I work as a Nortary Public in California. I know that thumbprints are required for real estate and powers of attorney. If I'm notarizing a document that is outside of that scope would I forego that thumbprint? Right now I have a thumbpriint in my journal for all documents, just as an added identifier. Not necessary?

National Notary Association

28 Jul 2015

Hello. CA Notaries are required to obtain a journal entry thumbprint when notarizing any instrument affecting real property or a power of attorney. The requirement does not, however, apply to a deed of reconveyance or a trustee’s deed resulting from a decree of foreclosure or a non-judicial foreclosure pursuant to CC 2924 (GC 8206[a][2][G]). Aside from those documents specified under CA law, you are not required to ask for a thumbprint when notarizing other types of documents. If a signer refuses to provide a thumbprint that is not required by state law for your journal entry , you must respect their privacy and accept their refusal.

27 Jul 2015

cannot read articles

National Notary Association

04 Aug 2015

Hello. We have sent you a message to see if we can help you resolve the issue.

Cathy Wong

28 Jul 2015

A handful of times, I have had an attorney call me asking about a signer signing a trust (distribute a person or persons assets) or letter stating guardianship of children. The thumbprint was not required for these documents, but they ensured their wishes were kept. Their thumbprints proved they signed the documents.

Cathy Wong

28 Jul 2015

A handful of times, I have had an attorney call me asking about a signer signing a trust (distribute a person or persons assets) or letter stating guardianship of children. The thumbprint was not required for these documents, but they ensured their wishes were kept. Their thumbprints proved they signed the documents.


26 Nov 2015

very directive

K. Schroeder

10 Apr 2016

Cathy: are you saying that if you had not collected those thumbprints, that the trust would have been disputed (successfully)? And that, having collected them, you know you deterred an incident of fraud? Were the prints examined in a court? How did having them affect anything? Please explain. Thanks!


12 May 2016

Is it required in Massachusetts to have a thumbprint in the journal book?

National Notary Association

12 May 2016

Hello. No, Massachusetts Notaries are not required to take a signer's thumbprint or fingerprint for their journal entries.

Shawnee Norden

12 Jun 2016

Hey blog post ! I Appreciate the insight ! Does anyone know if my business can get a template a form document to fill out ?

Laurie Flanigan

12 Jul 2016

I am a notary in California. Do you need to obtain a thumbprint for an Affidavit of Successor Trustee which is just putting on record title a new trustee affecting real property? Thank you.

National Notary Association

25 Jul 2016

Hello. CA Notaries must obtain a journal entry thumbprint for any notarized document affecting real property, except for a trustee’s deed resulting from a decree of foreclosure, a nonjudicial foreclosure pursuant to Section 2924 of the Civil Code, or a deed of reconveyance. (GC 8206[a][2][G]).

roger s. peters

10 Sep 2016

I am in Illinois and I read the one article about notary, so if I want to have thumbprints on all my transactions, beside the required documents for cook county , I can do this but if the customer refuses, beside the required documents for cook county, I have to abide by the customer's right to not have to provide.

Joseph Zarek

29 Nov 2016

Is a Notary required or recommended to sign fingerprint cards for State Childcare Checks; specifically for the State of Ohio; and if so, where can this requirement or recommendation be found in the form of an Instruction, Policy, Rule, Regulation, or Law?

National Notary Association

01 Dec 2016

Hi Joseph. Generally the fingerprint cards are signed and witnessed, but it is not stipulated that the witness must be a Notary. However, a Notary could act as a witness in a non-notarial capacity without using his/her official signature or seal. Here are some links with more information on fingerprinting:


04 Apr 2017

A friend is getting married and wants to get a signature tree. It is a picture of a tree where the guests will put their thumbprints on it, (to resemble leaves) and then sign their names next to their thumb print. If a thief breaks into their house, can he use it for identity fraud?

Daniel Lovejoy

26 Jun 2017

According to the Attorney General for the State of Hawai'i, thumbprints are mandatory. I asked, and it was confirmed.

Michelle Brant

26 Jun 2017

Do anyone know what websites for becoming a traveling nortay...??

Maya Joseph

27 Sep 2017

Do we need to do thumbprint in NJ? Is it allowed if we want to for extra security measure?

National Notary Association

28 Sep 2017

Hello Maya. New Jersey does not require asking for a signer's thumbprint for a journal entry. While you may ask the signer for a thumbprint as additional protection against fraud, please remember that the signer has the choice to refuse to provide one since it is not required by state law.


28 Sep 2017

Where can I get a thumb print notary in Chicago for a quit claim deed

national Notary Association

29 Sep 2017

Hello. You can look up Notaries in your area on or other online directories, or search online for "Notary" or "mobile Notary" in your area.

katherine hensley

11 Nov 2017

i sold my house 2 years ago. It was my first and only house i ever sold. So i'm not sure if the things that took place with the sale of my house were legal or not or because i didn't have the knowledge what they can do and not do its my fault. One of the things is being charged for a notary and the notary stamping and saying that i proved my identity. I never even met with a notary. i never gave my thumbprint to anyone either. from riverside, ca.

National Notary Association

13 Nov 2017

Hello. If someone is claiming to have notarized your signature without your knowledge on real estate documents, you may be a victim of fraud. If you suspect fraud has taken place, you can contact the Riverside District Attorney's office Real Estate Fraud hotline at (877) 723-7779.

Megan Horniak

11 Jul 2018

Hi I just got recommissioned in PA is fingerprint mandatory didn't need it before thanks

Sharon VanAtta

23 Aug 2018

Hi. Are thumprints required for notary journals in the State of NJ?

National Notary Association

23 Aug 2018

Hello. According to the “New Jersey Notary Public Manual,” “required information includes: 1) date and time of notary act, 2) type of act (i.e., acknowledgment), 3) title of document, 4) date document was signed, 5) signature, printed name and address of each signer, and if applicable, each witness, and 6) form of ID -- e.g., identification document, personal knowledge, or credible witness. Note: Journals should be bound to prevent tampering.”

John Farrell

20 Apr 2019

Is Tennessee Notaries required to get thumb print in there journal.

National Notary Association

22 Apr 2019

Hello. TN Notary law does not specify a thumbprint requirement for a Notary's journal entries. TN requires a journal entry only if the Notary or the Notary's employer requests a fee for the notarization performed ((TCA 8-21-1201[b]).

William Turner

03 Jun 2019

In todays litigious world we require driver's licenses or passports for identification and we fingerprint EVERYONE. Remember the aphorism: CYA


08 Jul 2019

I only ask for a RH thumbprint for documents associated with ownership of real property, a mortgage, a deed of trust, financial Power of Attorney. I do not ask for one for any other documents that might be notarized in a particular loan package/sellers/buyer's paperwork. Sometimes, if the thumbprint isn't clear I will ask the signer to get more ink and affix their thumbprint in my journal in an adjoining cell. Only one county in IL demands them, but I witness in another county next to mine that is considering making thumbprints mandatory. I wouldn't waste the ink on a document like E & O/Compliance. ReMEMBER, WE have to buy these supplies.

A Coll

17 Mar 2020

Hi, I'm not a member, nor am I a notary. I was wondering how to go about verifying a thumbprint when there was fraud. Alleged Signer is certain that she never visited notary for power of attorney. We are in CA and we need to have print examined to prove it to be fraudulent and not of the Signer. Any advice on this process? Any help is appreciated. Thank you

03 Apr 2020

I might do a notarizarion prenup for a friend, do I need her thumbprint for my journal?

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2020

To help us answer your question, what state are you commissioned in?

03 Apr 2020

Sorry I forgot to mention I'm a florida notary

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2020

Hello. Florida Notaries are not required to keep journals, so there is no thumbprint requirement in Florida.

Michael Wagner Sr

13 Aug 2020

As a resident of Pa, do I need to give a RH thumbprint to a loan agency in CA in order to receive a vehicle loan. Was asked by a notary hired by firm to confirm who I am, if I had a problem with giving a thumbprint. Thank you!

National Notary Association

13 Aug 2020

Hello. While we can tell you that Pennsylvania's state Notary law does not require a signer thumbprint for a Notary's journal entry, we cannot answer questions about a loan agency's individual requirements for loan applicants. You should contact the loan agency directly if you have questions about their request for your thumbprint.

Alan Cohen

18 Aug 2020

I cant find any law about a notary public obtaining a fingerprint for regular transactions. I feel better getting one from the client to protect me. Can I ask for a thumb print if I cant find any law about it?

National Notary Association

18 Aug 2020

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

Tammy Kirkland

25 Aug 2020

in West Virginia is thumbprint required in journal?w7cHKt

National Notary Association

27 Aug 2020

Hello. West Virginia does not have a Notary journal requirement.


26 Oct 2020

Hi! It appears the Connecticut Notary Manual doesn’t speak on thumbprints. I take that to mean, not only are they not required, but collecting thumbprints is also not prohibited. Can you confirm?

National Notary Association

26 Oct 2020

Hello. You are correct-Connecticut does not require Notaries to keep a journal, so state law does not address requesting a signer thumbprint for journal entries.

Mikki Gracey

16 Nov 2020

Does Michigan require a thumb print in the journal?

National Notary Association

17 Nov 2020

Hello. No, Michigan does not require a journal thumbprint.

Chanel Anglin

31 Jan 2021

Does New York require thumbprints as of 2021?

National Notary Association

01 Feb 2021

Hello. No, New York does not have a Notary journal requirement; and therefore there is no requirement for signers to leave a thumbprint in the journal entry.

Eva Eugenia Joice

26 Feb 2021

I am a new Notary in California. I recently refinanced my home. The notary/signing agent came to our home and had us sign all the paperwork, but he never had us sign his journal or give a thumbprint. Is this not required for a notary that is a signing agent?

National Notary Association

01 Mar 2021

Hello. Yes, California Notaries are required to obtain a signer's thumbprint for the journal entry when notarizing signatures if the document is a power of attorney, deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust or other document affecting real property (GC 8206).

08 Apr 2021

I would like to see the NotaryBulletin review Notary apps for Windows, Mac, IOS and Google Android. I found one in Apple's App Store called NotaryAct. I was wondering if an app such as this is legal to use in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. Thanks.

12 Apr 2021

Is a thumb print needed for Ohio when performing journal entries?

National Notary Association

13 Apr 2021

Hello. No. Also, in Ohio, journals are required for electronic notarizations only (ORC 147.65).

27 Jul 2021

Hello-and thanks for all the great info. I'd just like to confirm that Washington state currently does not require fingerprints for notarization acts. Thanks!

National Notary Association

27 Jul 2021

Hello. Washington state does not require Notaries to obtain a signer thumbprint for journal entries. The following information is required for Notary journal entries in WA: “(a) The date and time of the notarial act; “(b) A description of the record, if any, and type of notarial act; “(c) The full name and address of each individual for whom the notarial act is performed; and “(d) Any additional information as required by the director in rule” (RCW 42.45.180[4]). “Beyond these, you should include whatever information you believe will be helpful in recording the notarial act, such as more details about the method of identification or the signing party’s fingerprint” (Washington State Notary Public Guide)

05 Jan 2022

Is a thumbprint required or recommended in Virginia?

National Notary Association

05 Jan 2022

Hello. Virginia Notaries performing electronic notarial acts are required to keep a journal. The journal must be an electronic record that meets state requirements, but a thumbprint is not required for the journal entry. (Please see COV 47.1-14[C] for more information). The Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public does recommend Notaries keep a journal even if not required to do so by law.

Rob Rodriguez

09 Mar 2022

Is a Thumb print required for anything in Florida?

National Notary Association

11 Mar 2022

Hello. Florida does not have a journal thumbprint requirement.

Kathleen Bennett

01 Jul 2022

I'm in Oregon thumbprints aren't required. Can I choose to make it a standard part of my practice? If so what happens if someone refuses, would I just put that under additional information? Thank you

National Notary Association

05 Jul 2022

Hello. You may ask for a thumbprint for your journal, but since it is not required in your state the signer has the option to refuse. If the signer refuses, this is not sufficient grounds to refuse to provide the signer Notary services. You may make a note in your journal that you requested a thumbprint and the signer did not wish to provide one.

Chris White

11 Jan 2023

Is a thumbprint required or recommended in South Carolina?

National Notary Association

12 Jan 2023

Hello. No, a thumbprint is not required for Notary journal entries in South Carolina.

John c McElhenny SR

06 Mar 2023

I have run into where people do not want to do the print, so I still did the notarization for them. I still got the ID and the name and address where they live and they did sign then I asked if they would reconsider the print and still did not want to do it

Bernard M Rogers

06 Mar 2023

Is a thumbprint required in New Mexico

National Notary Association

06 Mar 2023

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

06 Mar 2023

Do Arkansas notaries have to have a thumbprint?do Arkansas notaries have to have a thumbprint

National Notary Association

10 Mar 2023

Hello. Only Notaries performing remote notarizations are required to keep a journal in Arkansas. The journal entry is not required to include a signer thumbprint.

Tracey Dashiell

08 Mar 2023

I am a notary public in Arizona. From what I understand, AZ does not require a thumbprint, but with all the talk of fraud, I feel like I want to get thumbprints for my journal entries. Is it illegal for me to ask for a thumbprint? I know it will not only protect the signer, but myself. If the signer does not want to provide a thumbprint, can I refuse to notarize their documents? I'm a new notary and am still learning.

National Notary Association

09 Mar 2023

Hello. Arizona does not require a signer thumbprint for journal entries. You may ask a signer to voluntarily provide a thumbprint, but they are not required to do so for the notarization and have the choice to say 'no' if they wish. Arizona Notary law states the following regarding refusing Notary services: “A notarial officer may refuse to perform a notarial act if the notarial officer is not satisfied that either: “1. The individual executing the record is competent or has the capacity to execute the record. “2. The individual’s signature is knowingly and voluntarily made” (ARS 41-256.A). ”A notarial officer may refuse to perform a notarial act unless refusal is prohibited by any law other than this article“ (ARS 41-256.B). The state Notary manual also provides the following guidelines: “If a reasonable request is made, a notary public shall notarize a document under the guidelines in this manual. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “reasonable” in part to be: ‘fair, proper, just, moderate, suitable under the circumstances…’”


17 Jun 2023

Is a thumbprint required for a consent to travel letter in ca

National Notary Association

20 Jun 2023

Hello. That question would need to be answered by the agency that will be receiving the document.

Lidia Aranda

11 Apr 2024

How to verify someone's thumb print on a journal.

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