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Can I Destroy My Notary Journals?

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I understand that after my commission ends, my journals need to be turned into the county recorder. But since I have been a notary for over 20 years, I have journals stacking up. What must/can I do with them? I read somewhere that I could destroy them after a certain time period, but don’t know what that is for California?C.R., California

If a California Notary resigns, is disqualified, is removed from office or allows their commission to expire without obtaining another commission within 30 days, then their notarial records must be delivered to the county clerk’s office where their oath of office and bond are on file within 30 days of resignation, revocation or expiration. It is a misdemeanor for any person to purposely destroy, deface or conceal a Notary’s journal. A person who does so is liable for damages suffered by any person as a result (Government Code, Sections 8209 and 8221).

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

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07 Nov 2016

So, does that mean that for as long as our commissions are active or we keep renewing, then for the life of our notary career, we must keep EVERY single journal?

National Notary Association

09 Nov 2016

Hello. For California Notaries, this is correct. However, Notaries in other states would follow their own state's laws regarding journal storage and disposal.


07 Nov 2016

Do you realize that your answer does not address C.R.'s question? What should be done with journal that he has kept for 20 years. Can s/he surrender some of the old ones to the county? Can s/he destroy them after 10 years?

National Notary Association

09 Nov 2016

Hello. As stated in the article above, in California it is a misdemeanor for any person to purposely destroy, deface or conceal a Notary’s journal. So California Notaries are not permitted to destroy old journals.

Karen Fagundes

25 Apr 2019

Can a County Clerk's Office destroy journals before the required 10 year date of the last journal entry?

National Notary Association

26 Apr 2019

Hello Karen. What state and county are you referring to, please?

Karen Fagundes

26 Apr 2019

I am in CA, the County of Santa Cruz.

National Notary Association

30 Apr 2019

Hello. We do not have information on a rule or policy permitting early destruction of a Notary's journal records. California Notary law states that after 10 years from the date of a Notary journal's deposit with the county clerk, if no request for, or reference to such records has been made, they may be destroyed upon order of court (GC 8209).

Zane Killebrew

14 Jun 2019

Property was legally taken away and signed over to the party in question. Our grandmother signed a quick claim deed when she was in the hospital. We went to the county courthouse to look into the records of this transaction. The notary did not turn her books into the clerk's office at the county courthouse. That information came from the clerk who tried to find the records and could not. She was the one who told us about the laws and what to do. This notary in question has caused a great deal of hardship and pain in our family. I will not let this rest until she is held accountable for her negligence Thank You For Your Time


22 Aug 2019

Hello if my notary commission has already expire and I wanted to renew it am I able to? Im in California I wasn't keeping up with it but I still want it how do I figure out how to renew it? Do I still have to turn in my journal and stamp even though I am going to renew it?

National Notary Association

23 Aug 2019

Hello. If you need assistance with renewing your commission, you can contact the NNA's Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827.


03 Dec 2019

I'm no longer a notary for several years now but still have all my notary books in storage. Would it be a misdemeanor if I brought them to the county clerk's office?

National Notary Association

11 Dec 2019

Hello. Can you tell us what state you are commissioned in?


09 Jan 2020

Hi, my commission expired for about 7 years now and I still have my notary journal. I was commissioned in California. can I still submit the journal to the county clerk?

National Notary Association

09 Jan 2020

Hello. In California, Notaries are required to turn in their journals within 30 days of resigning their commissions. You may wish to contact the county clerk's office directly to ask if they will accept the old journal.

Roberta ingalls

17 Nov 2020

National Notary Organization: Ca Native reaching out to you. I have emailed Secretary of State of Ca and local Assemblyman in Hayward as there seems to be a serious problem that exists regarding the chain of custody, chain of command in the safety of legal documents prepared by a notary public ledgers which are not accounted for when the Notary’s Commission expires and ledgers are to be turned over to the county in which the notary took oath. The ledgers are to be submitted to the county recorders office within 30 days. I can see you have not addressed the same Issue Ca Notaries are asking you when they have not turned over their ledgers. Please help me Understand this . And, if you truly are educated in this field( I see only your name related to this organization), please get back to me with clear, judicial, ethical responses. Thank You, Roberta C. Ingalls, human being, California, USA

National Notary Association

18 Nov 2020

Hello. We apologize, but can you please clarify what information you are requesting, and what specific issue regarding CA Notary journals you concerned about?


25 Nov 2020

My Notary commission expires in December 2020 and I do not intend to renew it again. I will deliver my notary journal(s) to the county clerk, but do I have to deliver them in person or can mail them in?

National Notary Association

04 Dec 2020

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

Marcellina Mosqueda

14 Jan 2021

Hi, I’m from California, county of Riverside My commission expires in March 2021, and I don’t want to renew.. I understand I have to turn in my journal to county recorder within 30 days of resigning. Is there anything else I am suppose to do after that?

National Notary Association

15 Jan 2021

Hello. Yes, you will also need to destroy your seal or render it unusable by anyone else.

Marcellina Mosqueda

19 Feb 2021

Hi I’m from California, County of Riverside I tried to turn in my journal to county recorder, but due to Covid There’s no one at county recorder, no on at county period. So what do I do to turn in journal?

National Notary Association

24 Feb 2021

Hello. We would suggest contacting the recorder's office by phone at (951) 955-6200 to request alternate instructions from them for mailing or delivering your journal during the COVID-19 closure.


17 Apr 2021

My AZ commission expired years ago, about 15 yrs ago but I still have journal in storage. Can I return to clerk and avoid misdemeanor?

National Notary Association

29 Apr 2021

Hello. Upon resignation, Arizona Notaries have three months to deliver their seals and any journals that contain public records to the Secretary of State. Delivery must be made by certified mail or some other means that provides a receipt. Notaries who fail to comply may be fined between $50 and $500 by the Secretary (ARS 41-317.A).


11 Apr 2022

I am in CA and found an old journal, from about 15 years ago and my journal accidentally got destroyed Will I be held liable for this? And can I be given a misdemeanor? I am just reading now that this should have been turned in 30 days after my commission expired which was about 15 years ago. I don’t know what to do now

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2022

Any journal that is lost or stolen (including accidental destruction) should be reported to the California Secretary of State’s office. We are unable to advise on how or if a Notary would be held liable or if they would be charged with a misdemeanor. The law states specifically: "(a) If any notary public resigns, is disqualified, removed from office, or allows his or her appointment to expire without obtaining reappointment within 30 days, all notarial records and papers shall be delivered within 30 days to the clerk of the county in which the notary public’s current official oath of office is on file. If the notary public willfully fails or refuses to deliver all notarial records and papers to the county clerk within 30 days, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be personally liable for damages to any person injured by that action or inaction."


07 Sep 2022

With the new legislation in California. That an action against a Notary’s bond must be commenced within 3 years, but actions based on malfeasance or misfeasance must be commenced within 1 year from discovery or 3 years from the performance of the notarial act, whichever is later. In any case, any action must be commenced within 6 years, or it cannot be brought. Does this mean any journal entry from 6 years ago can be destroyed?

National Notary Association

09 Sep 2022

No, California Notaries are not authorized to destroy their journals. “The journal shall be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary. Failure to secure the journal shall be cause for the Secretary of State to take administrative action against the commission held by the notary public pursuant to Section 8214.1” (GC 8206[a][1]). “If any person shall knowingly destroy, deface, or conceal any records or papers belonging to the office of a notary public, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and be liable in a civil action for damages to any person injured as a result of such destruction, defacing, or concealment” (GC 8221[a]).

Tina Brown

29 Sep 2022

Do we know if California is going to ease on the mandatory keeping of Journals? I know in my last renewal class someone mentioned they didn't have their book signed 3 years prior and the instructor said if someone forgot to sign your book you don't have to worry about it since after 3 years your journal is voided anyways. If that is the case, what do I do with my journals from 20 years ago? shred?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. California Notaries are required to secure their journals until they resign their commissions, after which all notarial journals, records, and papers must be turned in within 30 days to the county clerk in which your current oath of office is on file. “Any notary public who willfully fails to perform any duty required of a notary public under Section 8206 … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor” (GC 8228.1[a]). Section 8206 of the Government Code covers requirements related to the Notary’s journal. The misdemeanor penalty, therefore, applies if a Notary fails to meet certain journal-related requirements, including but not limited to the following: properly maintain, secure or retain the journal; notify the Secretary of State if the journal is lost, stolen, rendered unusable or surrendered to a peace officer; or permit a lawful inspection or copying of the journal (GC 8206[a] through [e]; see also GC 8214.1[o]). “If any person shall knowingly destroy, deface, or conceal any records or papers belonging to the office of a notary public, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and be liable in a civil action for damages to any person injured as a result of such destruction, defacing, or concealment” (GC 8221[a]).

Nicole Guerra

15 Oct 2022

What if I resign and do not have any journals to turn in? I never even got started after I received my commission and I am leaving the state of California.

National Notary Association

09 Nov 2022

If you never completed a notarization, you do not surrender any journals to the county recorder.

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