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Notary Bulletin

What To Do With Full Notary Journals

Journal_Youtube-resized.jpgUpdated 12-10-20. Notary journals contain valuable records of your past acts. But what do you do with Notary journals you no longer use? Do you send them to someone? Do you keep them? What if your Notary journal is lost or stolen? Here are some important tips.

Can I Discard Notary Journals I Don’t Use Anymore?

Even if you’ve accumulated a large stack of full journals, don’t throw them out willy-nilly. In fact, doing so in some states is a violation of Notary law.

Generally, states that require Notaries to keep a journal also provide guidelines for keeping and disposing of journal records.

California requires its Notaries to keep all completed journals as long as the Notary maintains a current Notary commission. California Notaries whose commission ends without being renewed must turn in their journals within 30 days to the county clerk's office where their oath of office is on file. Willful failure to deliver journals to the county clerk of the county in which the Notary’s oath and bond are filed is a misdemeanor and subjects the Notary to personal liability to any person injured as a result.

Hawaii requires its Notaries to turn in their journal records to the state attorney general's office within 90 days after the end of each commission period. Failing to retain journal records and turn them in can result in a Notary being fined $50-$500.

How Long Do I Keep My Notary Journals?

Some states require you to keep all journal records until you stop being a Notary, then turn them over to a government agency. In Colorado, when a Notary's commission ends, the Notary may choose to keep a journal for 10 years and notify the Secretary of State of where it is kept; leave the journal with the Notary's employer and provide the Secretary of State with the employer's contact information; or send the journal to the state archives and notify the Secretary of State. 

Other states allow you to destroy old journal records after a certain period of time. Arizona requires Notaries to keep a journal record of every notarization for five years after the date it was performed. That means five years after the last entry recorded. Only then may they be destroyed. However, if you stop being a Notary in Arizona, you must turn in journals with entries dated less than five years ago to the Secretary of State. However Arizona allows Notaries to keep separate journals for public records and non-public records. Any records of notarial acts that are not public records are the property of the Notary's employer and are not turned in to the Secretary of State.

Maryland requires Notaries to retain journal entries for 10 years after the last entry recorded in the journal. Massachusetts requires Notaries to keep all journal records for seven years after they stop being a Notary.

Texas requires traditional journal records to be kept for three years or for the term of the commission in which the notarization occurred, whichever is longer. So if you perform a notarization and there are two years left on your Notary commission, you keep the journal record for three years. However, Texas officials recommend keeping journal records permanently as a best practice. Texas Notaries who perform remote online notarizations must maintain electronic records of their online notarizations for five years following the date of notarization. 

What If My Employer Wants My Journals?

Only Arizona and Oregon allow Notaries to turn journals over to employers — and even then, you only may do so under special circumstances. In other states, the journal is usually considered the Notary’s personal property and must remain exclusively under your control. It may not be kept by an employer even if your employer paid for your commission or you changed jobs.

What If My Notary Journal Is Lost Or Stolen?

If any of your journal records are lost or stolen, be sure to report the loss to the proper authorities as set out by your state laws. California and Montana require you to notify the Secretary of State. California requires the notice to be sent by certified or registered mail (or by any physical means of delivery with a receipt) and include the dates covered in the missing journal, along with your commission number and expiration date, and a copy of the police report, if applicable.

Arizona, Hawaii and Texas require you to report a lost or stolen journal to the Secretary of State (or Attorney General in Hawaii) and also to local police. Arizona and Hawaii require Notaries to report any lost or stolen journal within 10 days (Arizona requires immediate notification regarding the theft of an electronic journal).

If you are commissioned in a state that does not provide guidelines for reporting a missing journal and your records are stolen, the NNA recommends filing a report with local law enforcement.

What If My State Does Not Have Rules For Keeping A Journal?

Even if your state does not require keeping a journal, such as Florida, it's still a good practice. The information in a completed journal could be vital to proving you acted properly if you’re ever accused of negligence or fraud in a court of law. Also, journals often contain sensitive personal information about your customers, such as addresses, driver’s license numbers or other data that could be used for fraud or identity theft. So even if your state does not require you to maintain old journal records, it's advisable to keep them for a period of time in the event one of your previous notarizations is challenged or questioned in a court case.

In the absence of official state rules for disposal of a journal, The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends safeguarding and storing each journal for at least 10 years from the date of the last entry in the journal. 

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


View All: Best Practices


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05 Jan 2017

What if there is nothing in my state statues that addresses whether notary journals must be kept when full, or when a person is no longer a notary? I haven't been a notary in 4 years, but don't want to shred my notary journal unless I know it's okay.

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2017

Hello Teresa. If state law does not address disposal of completed journals, the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends keeping the journal stored in a secure place for 10 years from the date of last entry.


17 Dec 2018

What if I left my journal at a previous employer as they told me to do since they paid for my Notary. I have not worked there in over 10 years and know they won't return my calls?

National Notary Association

17 Dec 2018

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in? Was your previous employer located in the state you are commissioned in?

Pat Harris

02 Feb 2019

I have an old notary journal from a previous employer. This journal is over 20 years old. May I dispose of it now? May I just shred the pages? I live in Utah.

National Notary Association

05 Feb 2019

Hello. “The length to which the notary should keep their journal after they are no longer a notary is left up to the notary to decide. We do suggest the notary keep the journal for a sufficient amount of time to be able to use as evidence if a notarization is called into question. The nationwide standard is 10 years” (Utah Lt. Governor's website, “New Notary Laws 2017”:


03 Mar 2019

I was a notary in California 2003-2007, with one notarization. I forgot/did not know I needed to turn in my journal. Now I am studying to become a notary again. Will this hurt me in anyway of becoming a notary now?

National Notary Association

04 Mar 2019

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.


17 Jul 2019

I renewed my commission after I was laid off but the commission eventually expired a few years ago and I forgot to send my journals to the Secretary of State. I would like to do so, but I'm worried I'll be hit with serious penalties for not having already done so. What do they usually do to people in my position?

National Notary Association

22 Jul 2019

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

Susan J Barucca

30 Dec 2019

Hello, I was wondering if each document signed in a loan package that is notarized needs to be "separate" in the journal? Further, do you need to write-down the signer's name on each entry even though it is the same signer (i.e. "see above" for the address and D.L. information) also, do they need to thumbprint each entry in the journal (i.e. 20 total notarized documents - 20 thumbprinted entries for the same person)? I am thinking about some of the title company documents not lender documents such as title company affidavits that require notarization as well. Thank you for your response to this question.

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2020

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

Carol Martone

30 Dec 2019

What is the rule for Connecticut?

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2020

Hello. Connecticut does not have a journal requirement for Notaries and therefore does not provide rules for disposal of completed Notary journals. We recommend you follow the suggested guidelines listed in the article under "What If My State Does Not Have Rules For Keeping A Journal?"

13 Jan 2020

What are the rules in Pennsylvania?

National Notary Association

14 Jan 2020

Hello. Pennsylvania Notaries must keep their journals until they permanently resign their commissions, the commission expires without renewal or their commission is permanently revoked, after which the Notary must deliver their journals to the office of the recorder of deeds in the county where the notary public last maintained an office within 30 days of the commission's expiration, resignation or revocation.


18 Jan 2020

I stopped being a notary in California over 10 years ago but I still have ally journals and I would like to turn them in. Will I get fined for waiting this long to turn them in. Should I continued to store them myself? Orange County, California

National Notary Association

22 Jan 2020

Hello. California Notaries are supposed to turn in their journals to the county clerk's office where their oath of office was filed within 30 days of resignation. You may wish to contact to the county clerk's office to ask for instructions regarding turning in the old journals.


04 Feb 2020

I was commissioned in Orange County California over 10 years ago. I forgot to turn my journals in right away and now I’m afraid if I turn them in I’ll get penalized or fined. Should I continue to hold on to them or is it safe to still turn them in? What should I do?

National Notary Association

06 Feb 2020

Hello. You may wish to contact the county clerk's office where you were supposed to turn in the journals and ask if they can provide instructions.


26 May 2020

Hi! I was wondering if each document signed in a loan package that is notarized needs to be "separate entry" in the journal? (California)

National Notary Association

27 May 2020

Hello. Each notarization performed by a California Notary requires a complete, separate entry in the journal of notarial acts. For more information on CA journal requirements, please see this article:


15 Jun 2020

I am a Notary in NYS. I plan to resign this month. Do I have to send a letter of resignation, and if yes, where do I send it. Also, how long do I have to hold onto my notary journal. Thank you.

National Notary Association

17 Jun 2020

Hello. While not a requirement in NYS, we recommend that you send a written notification informing state Notary officials that you are resigning. Because New York does not have a journal requirement, there are no statutory guidelines for maintaining or disposing of your Notary journal. If the state does not provide guidelines, the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends safeguarding and storing each journal for at least 10 years from the date of the last entry in the journal.


06 Nov 2020

What do you do if you know if someone notarized a document with an expired license? MA requires valid ID. The person is a co-worker. Thank you.

National Notary Association

10 Nov 2020

Hello. If you wish to file a complaint about Notary misconduct, you should contact the Governor's Council at 617-725-4016 to request instructions.

Lucy Vehige

07 Dec 2020

I am retiring and leaving my place of employment where most of my notarizing took place. I have several journals from the past. All of this is happening in Missouri. What is the Missouri law about "old" journals? Can I just throw them in the shredder and use the current one?

National Notary Association

11 Dec 2020

“Upon resignation, revocation, or expiration of a notary commission, or death of the notary, the journal and notarial records shall be delivered to the secretary in accordance with [RSMo] section 486.795 or [RSMo] section 486.800 by any means providing a tangible receipt, including certified mail and electronic transmission” (RSMo 486.715.3).

Christopher Gentry

28 Dec 2020

What if you are currently a notary in Washington state but plan to move to another state and continue doing notary work? Do you surrender Wa State journals and start new in next state? Or do you keep all journals regardless until you are no longer a notary at all.

National Notary Association

29 Dec 2020

“The notary public shall retain the journal for ten years after the performance of the last notarial act chronicled in the journal. The journal is to be destroyed as required by the director in rule upon completion of the ten-year period” (RCW 42.45.180[1]).

Erynne Johnson

28 Dec 2020

I have lost my journal that is going to be needed for a court dispute, it got lost in my transition from one job to another and prep of moving into a new house. What is going to happen? What do i need To do?

National Notary Association

29 Dec 2020

Hello. We're sorry, but you would need to speak with a qualified attorney to answer any legal questions regarding a court case.

Kathleen Huff

28 Dec 2020

What is the Ky rules on journals?

National Notary Association

29 Dec 2020

Hello. A journal is required for electronic (online) notarizations only (KRS 423.389[1]).


29 Jan 2021

My notary expired in Jan. 2010 in Nevada. Since it’s been more than 7 years, can I destroy my notary journal, stamp, and seal? What are the rules for Nevada?

National Notary Association

29 Jan 2021

Upon the resignation or death of a current Notary, the Notary — or the executor of the Notary’s estate — must notify the Secretary of State and destroy the official stamp (NRS 240.051[1]). “A notary public shall retain each journal that the notary public has kept pursuant to this section until 7 years after the date on which he or she ceases to be a notary public” (NRS 240.120[9]). “If I stop being a notary or if I die, what happens to my journal? — Notify the Secretary of State writing as to the location of the journal if it is within [7 years]. After this time frame, your estate may dispose of the journal(s) (website, “FAQs”).


06 May 2021

Hello i am a notary in California, i recently renewed my commission but with the delays covid has caused my commission lapsed for 26 days, do i need to start a new journal or can i continue using the same one?

National Notary Association

08 Jun 2021

Hello. You may continue to use the same journal you started under the previous commission even through there has been a delay.

Ben Dover

16 Jun 2021

Hello. I am a Notary in California and my commission expired today. I have passed my test but the SOS is only processing applications from end of March. Do I need to turn in my journals since I will have a commission lapse?

National Notary Association

17 Jun 2021

Hello. You may continue to use the same journal you started under the previous commission even through there has been a delay.

Vincent Lee

21 Jul 2021

Hello, I’m currently a notary for California but recently moved out of state to Arizona. Will I be able to resign and send everything including resignation letter through mail?

National Notary Association

21 Jul 2021

Hello. Within 30 days of your move, you will need to send a letter of resignation to the Secretary of State’s office and 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 your seal (NPH; see also GC 8209).

Vincent Lee

21 Jul 2021

Hello as stated I have moved to Arizona and i am currently a notary for California. Now will I be able to mail all my items such as journals, records and papers to the County Clerk. It is specified that when resigning you just deliver all items but since I am out of state will I be able to mail them including the resignation letter. And also how would I know what county clerk to send this to as I became a notary in Los Angeles for a job was previously worked at?

National Notary Association

23 Jul 2021

Hello. You would need to deliver your journals to the county clerk in which your current oath of office is on file. You would need to contact the county clerk's office directly to ask if you can mail your journals to their office.


06 Sep 2021

My CA notary expired in October 2021 and I mistakenly forgot to turn in my journal. Is it ok for me to turn in my journal now?

National Notary Association

10 Sep 2021

Hello. Just to clarify, did you mean October 2020 or October 2021?

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