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What To Do With Old Notary Seals

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Updated 12-21-17. An old Notary seal is like your checkbook — you should never just toss it in the trash and forget about it afterwards. 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 It 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 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 seals when they stop being a Notary.

The same is true for Colorado Notaries, who also must turn in their seals if they cease to have a business or residence address in the state. Hawaii Notaries or their personal representatives must turn in their seals when they stop being a Notary or change their name.

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. Georgia 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
 

Some states are silent on what to do with old Notary seal stamps. Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky 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.

 

27 Comments

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

jerry_lucas@msn.com

13 Jan 2016

In the Colorado SOS notary website FAQ section, Question 7, at https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/notary/FAQ/seals.html, 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.

Niesha

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”).

Lisa

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.

JANET MARSHALL

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 Services@NationalNotary.org 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 Services@NationalNotary.org.

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: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/notary/forms/resign.pdf

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 notary@sos.state.co.us to ask if you can mail them your seal and journal, and if they have any special instructions for doing so.

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