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4 Things to know about using your Notary seal and journal at the office

An office desk with Notary seal and journal and a pencil case

Updated 10-9-23. Protecting your seal and journal from potential misuse at work is an important part of Notary duties. 

Here are four important points Notaries and their employers should know about Notary seals and journals in the workplace:

  1. The seal and journal belong to the Notary (Usually).
  2. The seal and journal should always be kept secured.
  3. Only the Notary may use the seal and journal.
  4. Notaries must refuse improper seal and journal requests.

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.

When a Colorado Notary's commission ends, Notaries have the option to leave their journal with their employer and provide the employer's contact information to the Secretary of State.

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

2. The seal and journal should always be secured.

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 the Notary may use the seal and journal.

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. Notaries must refuse improper seal and journal 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 the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

Notarizing on the job: What you and your boss need to know

How to handle requests for your Notary journal entries

Additional Resources:

NNA Notary Hotline

Errors And Omissions Insurance Information

View All: Best Practices


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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:

Jacquie M.

15 Nov 2021

Is it possible to hold coissions in 2 stayed? I work on NC, but my legal residence is on FL. I already jod a Commission I'm FL.

National Notary Association

15 Nov 2021

Hello. You may apply for a NC commission if you meet the following eligibility requirements. An applicant for a commission as a North Carolina Notary Public must (GS 10B-5[b]): (a) be at least 18 years old or legally emancipated as defined in Article 35 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes, (b) reside or have a regular place of work or business in the state, (c) reside legally in the United States, (d) speak, read and write the English language, (e) possess a high school diploma or the equivalent and (f) purchase and keep as a reference the most recent manual approved by the Secretary of State that describes the duties and authority of Notaries. (The current manual, “Notary Public Guidebook for North Carolina” is available through the Publications Office of the University of North Carolina’s School of Government at 1-919-966-4119 or The cost of the current edition is $20.) You will also be required to take the state-required course and exam.


21 Jan 2022

I got my notary commission when I worked for a different company. Now I am at a new company and they would like some documents notarized. I am wondering if I should be charging a fee or should I do it for free? I know it's a matter of opinion but I am just curious.

National Notary Association

25 Jan 2022

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

Linda T

18 Jul 2022

If a business offers notary service, and you have an account with them, should they charge per signature or per person for a multi signature document, if the notary is their employee? Calif

National Notary Association

22 Jul 2022

In the state of California, the regulated fees for Notary service is not more than $15 per signature. Whether or not fees should be charged by a business offering Notary services is up to that business. How those fess should be divided between the business and the Notary (if at all) is to be determined by an agreement between the employer and employee Notary.

Daiscia Roseberry

12 Oct 2022

My ex-employer refuses to return my notary logbook. In Georgia, what can I do?

National Notary Association

13 Oct 2022

Hello. We suggest contacting the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority at 1-404-327-6023 to report the situation and ask if you need to take any additional steps.

Marlena Coley

07 Nov 2022

I provide Notary for Nevada, I recently went through a divorce and I will be changing my name back to my maiden name. Can you please advise the proper steps to do so.

National Notary Association

10 Nov 2022

Hello. In Nevada, Within 30 days after changing a signature or a name with the intention to use the new signature or name in performing notarial duties, the Notary must apply for an amended certificate of appointment with the Secretary of State. The cost is $10 (NRS 240.036.1 and 3).


17 Nov 2022

I currently live in Arizona and I am leaving my employment. Do I have to turn in my journal (which I have not used as yet) and my stamp? If I take them with me, can they charge me for it?

National Notary Association

17 Nov 2022

Hello. If you are keeping your Notary commission after leaving your current employer and your journal contains only public records, you would keep your journal. You would only turn in a journal to your employer if it is a separate journal that includes information for non-public records (such as information protected by attorney-client privilege). “A notary public’s journal that contains entries that are not public records is the property of the employer of that notary public and shall be retained by that employer if the notary public leaves that employment.” (ARS 41-319.E).

30 Nov 2022

I am a new notary for my company. My boss is telling me that they don't need to sign my journal every time I notarize something for them. My understanding is that they do need to sign the journal every time. Who is correct?

National Notary Association

30 Nov 2022

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

Karen D Branch

19 Jan 2023

I am just getting started bein a Notary Public. How much do you or can you charge for your service ?

National Notary Association

23 Jan 2023

Hello. You can find a list of state Notary fees here:

Marcela Rodríguez

07 Mar 2023

I became a Notary public in Massachusetts. I did all myself and paid for my supplies and certification. My employer requires of my service sometimes. Do they have to pay me for this service? How convenient is to let them reimburse for my supplies?

National Notary Association

10 Mar 2023

Hello. Massachusetts does not address the question of employers reimbursing employees for notarizations. You would have to work out any agreements regarding notarizations on the job directly with your employer.

Ga’Nene McDuffie

21 Mar 2023

I live in a very small town in NC extremely close to the VA/NC border and would like to get my commission in VA also. I’ve been trying to get information on how/if it is allowed for both states. I’m already a notary in NC. Any suggestions on how I find out about dual commissions?

National Notary Association

28 Mar 2023

Hello. To qualify for a Virginia Notary commission, you must live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia (COV 47.1-4).


07 Apr 2023

My employer (Bank) kept my notary journal and said it belonged to them. They refused to give it to me and said since they paid for it it belonged to them. I did make them cut my stamp up but the said they needed my book for their records. Can they legally keep my book?

National Notary Association

10 Apr 2023

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


06 Jul 2023

For California, can you strikethrough unused journal entry boxes to start a new page?

National Notary Association

07 Aug 2023


Arrah McCarty

23 Oct 2023

We have two employees in one office who are notaries and we currently use the same journal to notate the notaries we are providing over the counter. is this okay or should we have our own journal? Also, in NYS, does the journal go with the employee or can it stay with the employer?

National Notary Association

31 Oct 2023

Hello. Each Notary must maintain their own separate journal. Sharing journals is not permitted. “[A]ll notaries public must maintain records sufficient to document compliance with the requirements of sections 130 and 135-c of the Executive Law and the duties and responsibilities of a notary public and/or electronic notary public as outlined in [19 NYCRR Part 182]” (19 NYCRR 182.9[a]). “Any records maintained by a notary public pursuant to [19 NYCRR Part 182] must be retained by the notary public for at least ten years” (19 NYCRR 182.9[b]).

04 Mar 2024

I am a Notary in Missouri. I work in Healthcare Administration. I only notarize the same person's signature signature over and over again on Medical Record Affidavits (medical records requested that require an affidavit of authenticity). Each record request is different but I am notarizing the same person's signature on the affidavit multiple times every day. Do I have to journal each one or can I keep an electronic list of the record number and affidavit?

National Notary Association

06 Mar 2024

Hello. In Missouri, each journal entry must contain the following information: The following entries are required for each notarial act (RSMo 486.705.1): 1. The date and time of notarization; 2. The type of notarization (e.g., acknowledgment or jurat); 3. The title, type or description of the document or proceeding; 4. The printed name, signature and address of each principal or printed name and address of each requester of fact; 5. The evidence of identity of each principal whether by personal knowledge, a notation of the type of ID, its issuing agency, serial or identification number and date of issuance or expiration, the handwritten signature and name of each credible witness, and for witnesses not personally known to the Notary, a description of the IDs relied on by the Notary; 6. The fee, if any, charged for the notarization. 7. The address where the notarization was performed, if not the address of the Notary’s regular place of work or business. The required entries for the permanently bound journal of an Electronic Notary and Remote Online Notary are the same. (Note: while an Electronic Notary can obtain the physical signature of a principal in the electronic journal, a Remote Online Notary cannot since the parties appear using communication technology.) The required entries for the Electronic Notary and Remote Online Notary electronic journal are the same as the permanently bound journal, but also require the electronic signature of each principal and credible witness, if applicable, and must include a recognized biometric identifier (RSMo 486.947.1[6][d] and 486.1185.1[6][d]). The Electronic Notary’s electronic journal must also include the name of any authority issuing or registering the means used to create the electronic signature that was notarized, the source of this authority’s license, if any, and the expiration date of the electronic process (RSMo 486.947.1[9]). The Remote Online Notary’s electronic journal must also include the name of the program or software any authority issuing or registering the means used to create the electronic signature that was notarized and the source of this authority’s license, if any (RSMo 486.1185.1[9]).

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