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A Notary’s Guide To Completing Journal Entries

Journal_Youtube-resized.jpgUpdated 3-20-20. Most states either require or recommend that you keep a journal record of your notarizations. A detailed Notary journal helps protect you from accusations of negligence and potential lawsuits.

But what information should be included in a journal entry? Here’s an essential guide to completing journal entries:

Complete The Journal Entry First

It’s best to complete all parts of the Notary journal entry before finishing the notarization. If you wait until afterward, the signer may depart, and you may be left with an incomplete journal entry and no way to finish it. Also, if you wait too long to write down what happened, you may forget essential details you need later. That could cause problems if the notarization is called into question later.

State Requirements For Notary Journal Entries

If your state requires you to keep a journal, make sure to include all mandated information for every entry. For example, California, which has some of the most detailed notarization laws in the country, requires the following information be taken down in each journal entry:

  1. The date and time the notarization took place
  2. The type of notarization performed — such as, “Acknowledgment” or “Jurat”
  3. The type of document being notarized — for example “Deed of Trust” or “Power of Attorney”
  4. The signature or mark of each person whose signature or mark is notarized, as well as the signature of any subscribing witness
  5. What type of satisfactory evidence was used to identify the signer, such as “U.S. Passport” (California does not allow Notaries to identify signers through personal knowledge), along with the ID's issuing agency, ID serial number, and issuing or expiration date. 
  6. The fee charged for the notarial act, or, if no fee was charged, "No Fee" or "0"
  7. The right thumbprint of the signer if the document is a power of attorney, deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust or other document affecting real property

For most states with journal requirements, entries generally include some variation of date and type of notarization; type of document; name and address of the signer; and how the signer was identified. But the details of requirements vary from state to state. For example, Pennsylvania requires the following information:

  1. The date and time of the notarization
  2. A description of the document and notarization
  3. The full name and address of each person for whom a notarization is performed
  4. How the signer was identified, with a description, date of issuance and date of expiration if ID was used
  5. The fee charged 

Texas requires entries for notarizations to include the following:

  1. The date of each document notarized
  2. The date of the notarization
  3. The name and mailing address of the signer
  4. The method used to identify the signer and if a credible witness identified the signer, the credible witness' name and address
  5. A description of the document
  6. If the notarization involved property transactions, the name and address of the person receiving the property
  7. For proofs of execution by subscribing witness, the address of the subscribing witness and whether they personally know the Notary or were identfied by a credible witness (if identified by a credible witness, the credible witness' name and address must be included).

In addition, Texas Notaries are prohibited from recording the serial or identifying number of a signer’s ID.

Where Notary Journals Aren’t Required

For Notaries in states that don’t require journals or specify what information should be included, such as Florida, the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends including the following as a standard of practice for each journal entry:

1. The date and time of the notarization

2. The type of notarization performed

3. The date and description of the document or transaction

4. The name, address and signature of each person whose signature is notarized or who serves as a witness

5. A description of how each signer was identified who is not personally known

6. The fee charged for each notarial act

Additional Notary Journal Information

Sometimes there may be an unusual circumstance connected to a notarization. While it is not required, it is generally a good idea to include information about the circumstances in the entry. That information can be helpful if you are questioned about the notarization at a later time. For example, you might want to note that a signer was bedridden but appeared alert and aware.

Don’t Record Unnecessary Private Signer Information

You have a responsibility to protect the privacy of your signers and should not ask for sensitive personal information for a journal entry unless required. That could include bank account numbers and Social Security numbers.

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

 

 

19 Comments

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R C Leyva

01 May 2017

Need this info

Phil Hughes

01 May 2017

In bullet number 4, I would add the signature and ID information of credible witnesses if a credible witness or witnesses were used to identify the signer. (Just to be complete)

Lois A. Barrall

24 Oct 2017

I am looking for a copy of the PA notary laws that governed journal entries in December 2016, what a notary needs to enter as to document identification. I can find the new ones for 2017, but I need a copy of the 2016 version.

A Andrew

30 Nov 2017

I'm a California notary and mainly notarize estate plans (multiple signature) and charge a flat rate for the appointment to the attorney. Can I list my flat rate for the first signature, then $0 for the remaining entry lines? Or do I need to divide the $50-$60 I charge between all of the entries for that appointment?

National Notary Association

08 Dec 2017

Hello. We recommend you speak to one of our Hotline counselors about this situation. You can reach them by phone at 1-888-876-0827.

AAndrew

06 Dec 2017

I'm a notary in California and typically notarize full estate plans and am paid a flat rate by the attorney that includes everything, including travel. The payment I receive breaks down to less than the $15 per signature allowed. Can I list the flat rate in the first line for the entries for each appointment ($50-$60)? Or should it be divided with an amount ($15 or less) listed on each line for the appointment? I don't want it to appear that I'm overcharging, but if I list the flat rate on the first entry, then $0 for each after, it should be obvious that I'm not overcharging, right?

National Notary Association

08 Dec 2017

Hello. We recommend you speak to one of our Hotline counselors about this situation. You can reach them by phone at 1-888-876-0827.

Karen Howard

25 Mar 2019

Notary Journals are "supposed" to include a separate line for each document notarized. In some real estate closing packages there are over 10 documents. Do escrow officers employed directly by title companies make the separate 10 entries? I haven't found one yet?

Christopher Greene

11 Apr 2019

This was a great help!

Isabel R

12 Apr 2019

For the state of Missouri, is it required or prohibited from recording the identification number of a signer's ID?

National Notary Association

17 Apr 2019

Hello. Missouri does not specify if identification numbers are required or prohibited in its Notary laws. The following information must be recorded in the journal for each notarization (RSMo 486.260): 1. The month, day and year of notarization; 2. The type of notarization (e.g., acknowledgment or jurat); 3. The type of document notarized; 4. The name, signature and address of the signer; 5. The identification used to identify the signer; 6. The fee charged for the notarization.

Jamie Odra

30 Oct 2019

(I am a notary in California.) It has been a while since I have done a notarization, and I do not do that many. I have a document that requires two signatures from the same person - this means I will fill out two journal entries and complete one acknowledgement form, correct? Thanks for your help!

National Notary Association

31 Oct 2019

Hello. If both signatures from the person are being notarized at the same time, then you are correct.

Theresa D

10 Feb 2020

To Karen Howard ~ I am also a California Notary who does similar signing packages that include many notarizations per package. I make a separate line in my journal for each and every notarization as is required by California Law. I also get a signature and thumb print from my signer for every act. Often my signers question why they have to sign so many lines and that the notary before me never made them do this. It concerns me that other notaries in this profession are now following the law on this. But always cover yourself by following the law even if it seems like excessive work. I go through a lot of journals but I would rather do that then have a notarization I did invalidated for a clerical short cut.

CB

06 Apr 2020

I think it would also be helpful to include how to properly mark out the journal entries if the signer chooses not to go forward with the signing.

mande7@verizon.net

14 May 2020

What happens when they bring you a document that has a different year. Say we are in 2020. But document says 2019

National Notary Association

18 May 2020

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.

Barry Hayes

19 May 2020

I'm a notary in California. When notarizing several documents from the same signer, I get the signature, printed name, and thumb print, if required. But I only fill out the ID information once per page, and put "see line 2". Is that permitted, or should I be copying the information each and every time? If asked for a copy of the journal entry at some later date, can I copy the ID information to the line requested at that later date?

National Notary Association

20 May 2020

Hello. No, these are not acceptable practices for your journal. The CA Secretary of State requires Notaries to complete a full journal entry for each notarization performed. California Notaries may not use ditto marks for journal entries. The reason for this is California Notaries are required by law to provide copies of information in their journals to the public upon a written request, and any line item provided must include complete information. Please see here for more information: https://notary.cdn.sos.ca.gov/forms/notary-newsletter-2018.pdf

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