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What To Do With Full Notary Journals

Journal_Youtube-resized.jpgUpdated 12-10-18. 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 five years. Massachusetts requires Notaries to keep all journal records for seven years after they stop being a Notary.

Texas requires 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.

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 send a written notice to 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.

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.



Add your comment


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?

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