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Notary Bulletin

A Notary’s Guide To Completing Journal Entries

Journal_Youtube-resized.jpgUpdated 3-18-21. 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. If the signer was identified through personal knowledge, include a statement to that effect
  5. The fee charged 

Texas requires traditional pen-and-paper journal 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, 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

Some states, such as Florida, do not require traditional pen-and-paper Notaries to keep a journal, but do require Notaries who perform remote online notarizations (RON) to keep an electronic record of their remote acts. 

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.

 

 

View All: Best Practices

35 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

Elaine Farmer

04 Sep 2020

I am a Notary in RI Some of the Signing include docs to notarize for them specifically — up to 8 or 10 for I need to list all of these separately also— with bank docs can be 10 or 12 signatures — list all of them separately??

National Notary Association

04 Sep 2020

Hello. Rhode Island does not require Notaries to keep a journal. Please see the following articles for suggestions on journal entries for states that do not have a statutory requirement: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2017/04/notary-guide-completing-journal-entries and https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2016/12/record-multiple-notary-journal-one-assignment.

d.mowry@icloud.com

22 Jan 2021

Does Ohio require you to keep a journal?

National Notary Association

26 Jan 2021

Hello. Ohio requires a journal for online notarizations only (ORC 147.65).

Cathy

10 Feb 2021

In California, Is a journal like the following permitted? “COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF DOCUMENTS – The journal’s comprehensive set of common documents (more than any other journal) and notarial acts eliminates the hassle and tedium of listing multiple documents in separate entries. When needed, space is available to enter less common documents.”

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2021

Hello. 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 Page 7 of the 2020 Notary Newsletter for more information: https://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/newsletter

Mae

16 Mar 2021

Hello how do I record an unconditional final lien release in my journal?

National Notary Association

17 Mar 2021

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.

Chelle

26 Mar 2021

I'm a notary in Florida and my employer requires me to keep a journal. The question has come up am I allowed to record ID numbers from driver's license and passports for my notary journal?

National Notary Association

01 Apr 2021

Hello. Since Florida does not have a statutory requirement for traditional Notaries to keep a journal, the state does not specify what information must be recorded in a physical journal of notarial acts. In the absence of statutory guidelines, 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

Linda Kemph

29 Mar 2021

Is there a link that you can provide that shows the rules for each state? I live in Arizona and want to make sure I am keeping accurate records required inArizona.

National Notary Association

01 Apr 2021

Hello. We're sorry, we don't have a link listing every state's journal requirements. However, the paper journal entry requirements for Arizona are as follows (ARS 41-319.A): 1. The date of the notarial act; 2. A description of the document or type of notarial act; 3. The printed full name, signature and address of each person for whom a notarial act is performed; 4. The type of satisfactory evidence of identity for each person for whom the notarial act is performed, if other than the Notary’s personal knowledge, including a description of the identification document, its serial or ID number, and its date of issuance or expiration; 5. The fee, if any, charged for the notarial act. An electronic journal entry for a remote online notarization must include the following information (ARS 41-374.A): 1. The date and time of the notarial act. 2. A description of the record, if any, and type of notarial act. 3. The full name and address of each individual for whom the remote online notarial act is performed. 4. If the identity of the individual is based on personal knowledge, a statement to that effect. 5. If the identity of the individual is based on credential analysis and identity proofing, a brief description of the results of the identity verification process and the identification credential presented, including the date of issuance and expiration of the identification credential but not its serial or identification number. 6. If the identity of the individual is based on an oath or affirmation of a credible witness, the information required by paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of this subsection with respect to the credible witness. 7. A fee, if any, charged.

Norma Mejia

26 Apr 2021

Hello, I do loan signings in CA and some of this loans have five signers and up to 19 different notarization, sometimes two or three copies of particular notarizations are required. On top of that there are five signature/name affidavits in this packages. Does that mean that I have to perform 30 to 50 notarizations per loan package? I bought the modern journal of notarial events in order to be able to do group notarizations, but I just learned single journal entries are required? What is a recommended journal for notaries in California then?

National Notary Association

29 Apr 2021

Hello. California journal requirements are very strict — the 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. The CA Secretary of State's office previously provided the following statement to the NNA when asked about the type of journal a Notary may use: "California Government Code section 8206(a)(1) requires that a California notary public maintain one active sequential journal under the notary public’s direct and exclusive control, which means that the journal must be bound and continually contain all of its pages and every line item recorded. Loose separate pages removed or added at a later time are not in sequence and are not in the one active journal. All of the information prescribed by California Government Code section 8206 must be completed in the journal sequentially at the time each notarial act is completed and all previous entries must be continuously maintained in one bound journal."

Todd Hurley

02 May 2021

Can you tell the requirements for North Carolina? Thank you very much!!

National Notary Association

05 May 2021

Hello. The state "Notary Public Guide for North Carolina" says the following: “Typical journal entries include the date and time of the transaction, the name(s) and signature(s) of the principal signer(s), the type of identification used to positively identify the signer(s), the type of document notarized, and the type of notarization that was performed. Driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers should not be recorded in a notary journal”

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