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Notary Bulletin

What To Do With Old Notary Seals

old-metal-seal-resized.jpgUpdated 12-11-20. You should never simply toss an expired Notary seal in the trash and forget about it. An old Notary seal is like your checkbook — if you throw it away carelessly, a dishonest person could find it and use it for fraud.

Most Notaries will need to replace an expired seal at some point — which means they will have to properly dispose of the old one. You also may need to destroy or dispose of a seal stamp if you get a new one before your commission expires. What do you do with it? Throw it out? Turn it over to someone? Destroy it? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Don’t Just Toss Your Old Notary Seal Away

Left intact, an old seal could be found and used by someone else to commit fraud. That’s why you should never throw away an intact and usable Notary seal or leave it behind when you change jobs. In the wrong hands, an expired seal could be used to create fake deeds, phony powers of attorney or other fraudulent documents. These documents could be used to steal from bank accounts, commit elder abuse or perpetrate real estate fraud.

If the fraud is discovered, and your name is found on the notarized documents, you could be sued for a bogus notarization you didn’t perform. It will be costly to retain an attorney to get you out of the lawsuit.

Turn In Your Old Notary Seal

Some states require Notaries to turn in their seals to the commissioning official at various times or circumstances. For example, Arizona Notaries — or their personal representatives — must turn in the seal when they stop being a Notary.

Hawaii Notaries or their personal representatives must turn in their seals when they stop being a Notary or change their name.

If your state requires it, old seals should be turned over to the appropriate agency in your jurisdiction, typically the commissioning official. If you fail to do so, you may be fined.

Destroy Your Old Seal

Some jurisdictions require you to destroy your old seal; others encourage it. ColoradoGeorgia and Indiana Notaries, for example, must destroy or deface their seal when they cease to be a Notary. 

In Texas, the Secretary of State asks Notaries to destroy their seal stamps when their commissions expire, or they cease to be a Notary for any other reason.

If you have an ink stamp, the easiest way to destroy it is to use a knife or other sharp object to cut and damage the rubber seal impression so that the stamp no longer makes a usable impression.

Embossers are more difficult to destroy because of their metal components. With an embosser, the metal embossing plate should be removed from the seal. It may be necessary to use a hammer or other blunt object to strike the plate and render the embossed information illegible. If your plate is made of plastic or another material, it may be necessary to break the embosser plate to make the embosser unusable by someone else. 

If you are using tools to deface or destroy an old seal, be sure to take proper safety precautions against accidents. Examples include gloves to protect your hands from being cut by sharp objects and protective eyewear as a safeguard against debris.

One Or The Other

While most states either require you to turn in your seal or destroy it yourself, others may require both under certain circumstances. In California, Notaries must destroy or deface their seals upon resignation, termination or revocation of their commissions. However, California Notaries who are convicted of certain offenses and felonies are required to surrender their seals to the court. In Florida, if you resign your commission, you must destroy your seal unless the Governor requests that you return it.

No Rules Or Guidance For Seal Disposal

Some states are silent on what to do with old Notary seal stamps. DelawareIowa, and Kansas are among states that don’t provide guidance on this matter.

If you’re in one of these states, the NNA recommends that you follow The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommendation to destroy or deface your seal when your commission ends.

While many states have rules for disposing of seals when your commission ends, not all say what to do with a seal when you change the name on your commission. In this circumstance, too, the Code recommends destroying or defacing your seal.

How To Know?

You can find your particular state’s or jurisdiction’s requirement by downloading and reading the NNA’s State Law Summaries.

Another no-cost option is to refer to your state’s Notary handbook or commissioning official’s website for the answer.

NNA members can also access the online U.S. Notary Reference Manual for state-specific instructions when turning in an obsolete seal. Members may call the NNA Hotline for a quick and accurate answer as well.

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

Additional Resources:

How to Use Your Notary Seal Stamp


View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Ron Barney

11 Jan 2016

This article was a good idea, but alas, the linked State Law Summary appears not, for New York anyway, to refer to the subject of what to do with my expiring seal.

Martina E Bohler

11 Jan 2016

My commission doesn't expire until December 2016, do I need to replace my current stamp? Or can I renew my commission now?

National Notary Association

13 Jan 2016

Hi Martina. To help us answer your question what state are you commissioned in?

Melida R Alvarado

11 Jan 2016

Need to see what I can discard my old notary seals

13 Jan 2016

In the Colorado SOS notary website FAQ section, Question 7, at, Renewing notaries should also deliver expired seals, including embossers and ink stamps, to our office for secure disposal.

Jennifer Williams

14 Jan 2016

Martina, Hopefully you should get a renewal notification in the mail with instruction

sandra bedard

14 Jan 2016

good article.

Dawn DeLaVega

21 Jan 2016

Most of us don't think about our expired stamps. Thanks for the article and helpful information.

Iris Witherspoon

20 Jun 2016

Thank you. This was very helpful.


10 Aug 2016

I'm commissioned in Texas and am now married. How do I replace my plates from my maiden new to my new name?

National Notary Association

12 Aug 2016

Hello. A Texas Notary may change the name on his or her commission by sending the Secretary of State an “Application for Change of Name as Texas Notary Public” (Form 2305, available on the Secretary’s website), the current commission certificate, if applicable a rider or endorsement from the surety firm showing the name change, and a $20 filing fee (1 TAC 87.20; website, “Frequently Asked Questions”). The Secretary will issue an amended commission in the new name, after which the Notary must use the new name for all notarial acts performed (1 TAC 87.22). Upon qualifying under a new name, a Notary must obtain a new seal in the new name (1 TAC 87.22[b]). Name change notification is optional; the Notary may continue to use the name on the commission until the commission expires (website, “Form 2305”).


30 Sep 2016

When my commission expired I asked my stamp maker if he could just change the stamp with my new info. He was able to recycle the parts and it cost less then buying a new stamp.

Paul F Franklin

25 Oct 2016

I bought a starter kit from NNA when first commissioned in 2009. The handle of my pocket embosser is still in good condition, but it does not appear to be the model you are currently supplying. I would like to only replace the insert. Do you know what make and model pocket embosser you were supplying in the summer of 2009?

National Notary Association

25 Oct 2016

Hi Paul. Please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 and they can check if it is possible to replace your embosser insert. If you have any kind of descriptive information about the embosser (model number, name, etc.) please let the Customer Care representative know.


09 Jan 2017

I'm a notary in CA. I received a new notary stamp when my commission renewed. I have not done anything with my old stamp, but it is locked up with my other notary info. What should I do with it?

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2017

Hello. You would need to destroy the old seal. You may cut the rubber impression with a knife or scissors to render it unusable and then dispose of it. Please take appropriate safety precautions such as wearing gloves and protective eyeware when rendering a seal unusable.

katya saenz

09 Jan 2017

My commission # is GG 010152. I received my seal, but it is not working right. It displays more ink in some parts a no ink at all in another ones. What can I do?

National Notary Association

10 Jan 2017

Hi Katya. We're sorry you're having problems. You can contact our Customer Care team at or 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

Pamela R Wells

09 Jan 2017

Hi, can you notarize a document for your family if your name is the same as the person you're notarizing for?

National Notary Association

10 Jan 2017

Hi Pamela. So that we can answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Sylvia Brown

10 Jan 2017

I'm in SC state and my commission expires in August 2017. How do I renew

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2017

Hi Sylvia. Our Customer Care team can assist you. You can contact them at 1-800-876-6827 or

Mary Jan Tucker

21 Jul 2017

This was very informative. There are answers to many of these questions on the NNA website. It is state specific as you are asked which state you live in when you bring up the webpage. I have renewed, ordered supplies and educational information. It is great

DJ Barrett

24 Jul 2017

Is there a specific document or notation needed when returning an old die seal to Colorado? Obviously, one does not simply toss it into an envelope and send it in. Thanks.

National Notary Association

25 Jul 2017

Hello. The Colorado Secretary of State's office provides a resignation form on their website:

Betty McGinley

20 Feb 2018

Expired in February 2014. I don’t live close to the Colorado secretary of state office. How can I dispose of my stamp and journal

National Notary Association

21 Feb 2018

Hello Betty. Colorado requires resigning Notaries to turn in their journals and seals to the Secretary of State's office, but does not specify how they must be delivered. We would recommend calling the Secretary of State's office at 303-894-2200 (extension 4) or email them at to ask if you can mail them your seal and journal, and if they have any special instructions for doing so.


22 Mar 2019

Hello, Want are the guidelines in the state of Illinois on what to do with expired seals?

National Notary Association

22 Mar 2019

Hello. According to the Illinois Notary Public Handbook, when the Notary’s commission terminates through revocation, resignation or death, “the notary, or the notary’s heirs, should destroy or deface the seal so that it may not be misused.”

Christy Hayes

24 Dec 2019

When I Notarized in Oregon-- I turned my old seals into the state AND my old journals. This blocked a couple of things: Having them stolen at a later date and having to disclose to someone contents of an old journal entry.

Richard Leonhart

25 Dec 2019

Can I use the same seal after I get a new stamp when I renew my notary license?

National Notary Association

26 Dec 2019

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

Oswald Joseph Bien-Aimé

29 Dec 2019

If my notary seal expires, I will put on latex gloves, pull the rubber impressions out, use a scissor to cut it up! Case closed!

Mohan Prabhu

29 Sep 2020

Good information but does not touch upon Canadian situation. Each province issues Notary commissions and they last a life time. Problem is to destroy them on the demise of the notary. Would a scrap dealer or a metal melter help out to destroy?

Regina DePhillips

21 Dec 2020

What happens if you have misplaced your journals and your commission has expired.

National Notary Association

22 Dec 2020

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

Jasmine Wong

28 Dec 2020

Hi, I'm in California and my commissioned expired. How do I dispose of the notary stamp and journal?

National Notary Association

29 Dec 2020

Hello. “If you want to resign your commission, send a letter of resignation to the Secretary of State’s office; within 30 days deliver all of your notarial journals, records, and papers to the county clerk in which your current oath of office is on file; and destroy the seal” (Notary Public Handbook; see also GC 8209).

Linda J Masanimptewa

21 Jan 2021

Hi. When I renew my notary, do I need to purchase a completely new notary stamp or is there a way to just replace the commission information of the stamp? Just wondering......

National Notary Association

26 Jan 2021

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

Linda Masanimptewa

27 Jan 2021

My commission is in Nevada state

National Notary Association

29 Jan 2021

Hello. When you renew your Notary commission you must purchase an new, updated stamp: “When the notary public receives the amended certificate of appointment, the notary public shall … [d]estroy his or her notary’s stamp and obtain a new notary’s stamp which includes the information on the amended certificate” (NRS 240.036[5][a]).


29 Mar 2021

My seal was to expire April 30, 2021. I have renewed by license and have a new seal that expires in 2025. I was always told that as soon as you receive your new seal, you should use it, destroying the old one. We just had a mortgage that I notarized with my new seal get rejected saying I should have used the 2021 seal since it had not expired yet. Is that correct?

National Notary Association

01 Apr 2021

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

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