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Notary Bulletin

4 Things To Know About Using Your Notary Seal And Journal At The Office

office-seal-notary-resized.jpgUpdated 11-13-20. If you work in an office, it's important to follow instructions from your boss. But when it comes to your Notary seal and journal, there are certain things you cannot do, even if your boss orders it. 

Protecting your seal and journal from potential misuse is an important part of your duties. Sometimes employers assume that these Notary tools are just regular office supplies — particularly if they paid for them, which is often the case. They don’t realize that many states strictly regulate who may have access to a Notary’s seal and journal and how these tools are used.

Here are four important points Notaries and their employers need to keep in mind about proper use of seals and journals in the workplace.

1. The Seal And Journal Belong To The Notary — Usually

Just because an employer paid for your Notary seal and journal doesn’t automatically entitle them to keep those tools if you leave the business. In most cases, you keep your Notary tools. For example, Florida law specifies that a Notary's seal must not be turned over to an employer upon termination of employment, regardless of who paid for the Notary's seal. While Texas law does not directly address possession of a Notary's tools, the state attorney general has issued an opinion that an employer does not own a Notary's seal or journal, and these tools should remain in the Notary's possession at all times (Texas Attorney General Opinion GA-0723). 

However, a few states have exceptions regarding journals. In Arizona, some Notaries working in professions involving sensitive information are authorized to keep two journals: one for public records and one for nonpublic records protected by attorney-client privilege or state and federal confidentiality laws. A journal containing nonpublic records is the property of the employer, and if the Notary leaves the job, the employer may keep it. The Notary keeps the journal with public records.

Oregon gives Notaries the option of signing an agreement with an employer that allows the employer to keep the journal when the Notary stops working for the employer. An Oregon Notary must keep a copy of this agreement for not less than 10 years after the date of the last act in the journal if this option is chosen.

Employers and Notaries should always familiarize themselves with their state laws regarding ownership of a Notary’s tools and always follow those rules.

2. Securely Store The Journal And Seal

A stolen Notary seal can be used for fraud, and a journal contains sensitive private information about signers that, in the wrong hands, could be used for identity theft or other crimes. That’s why your seal and journal always must be stored in a secure location under your sole control when not in use.

Some states require this in their laws. For example, California specifically states that Notaries must always store their journals and seals in a locked, secure area under the Notary’s exclusive control when not in use.

But even in states that don’t specify how they must be stored, the NNA strongly recommends that Notaries store their tools in a secure location such as a safe or locked desk drawer. Leaving your tools in an unsecured area, such as on top of your desk, leaves you vulnerable to someone finding and taking them — which in turn opens you up to a world of legal trouble and potential lawsuits.

3. Only You May Use Your Notary Tools

Remember that your tools aren’t ordinary office supplies like staplers or pencil sharpeners. Your seal and journal belong to you and may only be used by you; they cannot be borrowed or used by a boss or coworkers. If you’re out sick, for example, your boss cannot have another employee use your seal to start stamping documents. Nor can your boss require you to share your Notary tools with coworkers to speed up business operations.

It’s a serious violation of law for anyone other than you to use your tools — and could get you, your coworker and your boss in very serious legal trouble.

4. Say No To Improper Requests

Supervisors and colleagues often aren’t familiar with the strict rules Notaries are required to follow. If a boss or coworker wants to borrow your tools, asks you to let someone else use them or makes any other requests you know are illegal, you must refuse.

It’s helpful to keep your state Notary laws handy so you can show why you have to say no. Refusing illegal requests and following proper practices not only protects your commission, it protects both you and your workplace from potential lawsuits.

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


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19 Nov 2018

i'd like to read the before being asked for a comment.

National Notary Association

19 Nov 2018

Hello. All articles are available for viewing by the public and you should not have to enter a comment to read them. If you are encountering this issue, please email us at with a description of the device and browser you are using to view the article and we will try to assist you.

shannon d. steadham

11 Nov 2019

i just wanted to say thank you for all of the useful information you have been emailing me, i read it all and have been learning so much about being a notary, thank you1


19 Jun 2020


National Notary Association

26 Jun 2020

Hello. The following information is from the Nevada Secretary of State's website ( "If I leave my current job and that employer paid for my becoming a notary, am I no longer a notary? No, you are still a notary. However, be aware that the employer may cancel your bond, and you would be required to get a new one. If you are not allowed to take your stamp with you, it must be destroyed and you can purchase a new one. The stamp, journal, and Certificate of Appointment are the property of the notary (see NRS 240.143)."


31 Aug 2020

I recently moved to Arizona & made friends with someone who keeps saying she's a SIGNER not a Notoary? I've never heard of a SIGNER and would like to know if she's deceiving me?

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. We are not sure what your friend was referring to. For notarization purposes, the "signer" can be any person who signs a document and requests a Notary to notarize a signature. Is it possible your friend was referring to "Notary Signing Agents" who specialize in notarizing loan documents?

Connie Hunter

29 Sep 2020

Is a locked car considered a safe place?

National Notary Association

30 Sep 2020

Hello. If you leave your journal visible in your car you run the risk of someone seeing it and breaking into your vehicle to steal it. Please see here for more information:

Lisa Liang

30 Nov 2020

Good Morning, I am a California notary. My mom needs to sign a document with notarization, can I notarize a signature for her? I haven’t lived with her for more than 33 years after I got married. She is 90 years old so I don’t want to take her out to meet a public notary due to Covid-19. Thank you, Lisa Liang

National Notary Association

02 Dec 2020

Hello. According to the state Notary Public Handbook, a California Notary may notarize for relatives unless doing so would provide a direct financial or beneficial interest to the Notary. If you would receive such a benefit from the document, or are named as a party in the document, then you should not notarize.

Camille Moss

12 Jan 2021

I resign from my job and my employer deducted the cost of obtaining the notary stamp from my last paycheck because I took the stamp. Is that legal to do a payroll deduction for the notary stamp?

National Notary Association

13 Jan 2021

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

Lisa Liang

25 Feb 2021

Good Morning, Please advise me if a California notary can notarize for his/her mother’s “Survival certificate” or “Proof of life certificate”. This is to certify the mom is still alive. Thank you for your help. Lisa

National Notary Association

25 Feb 2021

Hello. California Notaries may not notarize if the document would provide a direct financial or beneficial interest to the Notary. Even if you do not have a direct financial or beneficial interest, you cannot notarize the document if it is asking you to make a certification CA Notaries are not authorized to provide, such as certifying your mother is alive. For more information, please see this article:

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