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4 do’s and don’ts when storing your seal and journal

A notary's seal and journal in a cabinet

Updated 1-3-24. Taking steps to safeguard your Notary tools will protect you and your customers from fraud and breaches of privacy  — even if it's not required by your state. Here are 4 important steps when keeping a Notary seal and journal:

  1. Don't leave your Notary journal and seal in the open
  2. Store your Notary journal and seal in a secure, locked area
  3. Don't lend your Notary seal and journal to other people
  4. Follow state rules for disposal of old Notary seals and journals

1. Don’t leave your Notary journal and seal in the open

Whether you notarize at home or the office, never leave your seal and journal unattended in the open where they can be stolen or misused by unauthorized persons. If you work as a mobile Notary, don’t leave your seal and journal visible in your car where someone might break in and take them.

2. Store your Notary journal and seal in a secure, locked area

When not using your Notary tools, the best place to keep them is a locked, secure area such as a safe or a locked drawer. California state law requires seals to be stored in this manner (GC 8206[a][1] and 8207). Illinois law states that when not in use, the journal must be kept in a secure location and accessible only to the Notary Public, such as the Notary’s sole possession or a locked location to which only the Notary has access (IAC 176.940 a)). Texas requires a Notary’s paper and traditional journal records to be retained “in a safe and secure manner” for either the length of the Notary’s commission or 3 years after the date of notarization, whichever is longer (1 TAC 87.54), while online journal records must be stored for 5 years following the date of notarization (1 TAC 87.54[b]). Even if state law does not specify how your tools are to be stored, it’s a good practice to keep them in a secured location when not in use.

3. Don’t lend your Notary seal and journal to other people

Your seal and your journal are your responsibility, and you should never lend or entrust them to other people. That includes family or co-workers — no one other than the commissioned Notary is authorized to use the Notary’s seal of office. Florida law states that the seal is the exclusive property of the Notary and must be kept under the Notary’s control at all times. Florida also prohibits surrendering a seal to an employer if a Notary leaves a job, whether or not the employer paid for the seal or the Notary’s commission. (FS 117.05[3][b]). Arizona and Oregon are the only states that allow Notaries to turn journals over to employers, and only under special circumstances.

4. Follow state rules for disposal of old Notary seals and journals

Different states have different rules for storing and disposing of old Notary seals and completed Notary journals. Always be sure to follow the rules of your state regarding old seals and journals. California requires Notaries to destroy or render their seal unusable when their commission permanently ends (GC 8207). Maryland requires Notaries to keep their journal records of every notarial act for 10 years after the last notarization in the journal was performed (ACM St. Gov’t 18-219[a][2]).

If your state does not provide guidelines for the disposal of obsolete seals or journals, the NNA recommends destroying or defacing your seal when your commission ends, but keeping your old journals for a period of time in the event one of your old notarizations is questioned or challenged in court.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

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

4 tips for Notaries dealing with natural disasters

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Richard Arrington

15 Jan 2018

good advice

Sandra Sloboden

15 Jan 2018

This is very helpful. I have. Notary seal since 2010 and have been wondering how to dispose of them

Linda J Martin

28 Jan 2019

Do I have to order a new stamp when my address changes?

National Notary Association

28 Jan 2019

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

Treba Fernandez

13 Jan 2020

Do I have to get a new stamp with my commission number on it? I was told that this was a new law for notaries?

National Notary Association

13 Jan 2020

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

Treba Fernandez

13 Jan 2020

I live in Arizona

National Notary Association

14 Jan 2020

As the result of the enactment of Chapter 13 (House Bill 2178) of 2018, Arizona Notaries with existing commissions may use their current Notary seal without a commission ID number until their commissions expire. When the Notary reapplies for a new commission, the seal for that commission must include the Notary’s commission ID number.

Mary Bartell

15 Jan 2020

Do I need to destroy expired commission date stamps, as we do with the seals? Or just throw them away? Thanks.

National Notary Association

16 Jan 2020

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

Louchandra L. Peterson

26 Jan 2020



25 Feb 2020

Question - does a locked bag, like a cash bag, qualify as a "locked and secured area?" My employer wants to exhaust all options before we re-key a cabinet. Thanks all!

National Notary Association

25 Feb 2020

Hi Chelsea. To help us answer your question, can you please confirm what state you are commissioned in, please?

Belinda Joy Green

14 Dec 2020

I am a notary in Texas. Having trouble finding out how to get an e-seal for doing RON signings. Do the RON platforms such as SIGNIX provide the e-seal when you sign up with their service? TIA BJ

National Notary Association

15 Dec 2020

Hello. Some platforms provide Notaries with the e-seal, while others do not. You would need to contact a specific provider to ask if they provide an electronic seal as part of their services.


25 Jan 2021

I am in Virginia. What do I need to do when I move (within the state)? Thank you.

National Notary Association

26 Jan 2021

For a change of residence address, the Notary must inform the Secretary of the Commonwealth in writing (COV 47.1-18). The mailing address is: Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth Notary Public Division P.O. Box 1795 Richmond, VA 23218-1795

Erica Levine

25 Jan 2021

This is great information! I have heard of people who had their stamp stolen at work and then it was used for nefarious purposes such as notarization of titles and closing documents.


25 Jan 2021

Good content

25 Jan 2021

I am (a newly) commissioned in California. I always wondered why every State has different rules surrounding Notary. California seems to be the most strict. Thank you for the newsletters, they really help.

National Notary Association

26 Jan 2021

Hello. While there are recommended and model Notary standards available to guide state lawmakers, each state is responsible for enacting its own Notary laws. We are glad you find our articles helpful!

Venus Gomez

21 Jul 2021

What happen if I could not find my Journal but I know its just around the house. Is it ok to order a new journal and would I get penalized for loosing it? I am from CA

National Notary Association

03 Aug 2021

When a journal is lost or stolen, a police report must be completed. Then, you have to notify the California Secretary of State by mail. Include a copy of the police report. You can start a new journal. If you find the missing journal do not continue to use it. Simply file it away in your own records as required by law.

willie gale

28 Jan 2022

I am thankful for the tips on use and storage. I am applying for to notary become a notary and I needed to know this.


05 Feb 2022

I’m in the process of becoming a notary and am at a brick wall because I can’t find my notary stamp. I had a questionable contractor in my house during the summer so I hid it in my house and I can’t find it now. I’m not sure if the contractor found it and took it or it’s I just can’t find it but I need to know where do I go from here? I’m in Ohio.

National Notary Association

18 Feb 2022

Hello. You should contact the Ohio Secretary of State's office to report the missing seal. You can call them at 1-877-767-6446 or email them at this page:

Likya Vicencio

16 Jan 2023

Thank you.

Rosemary Mathews

16 Jan 2023

Perhaps an automatic sign such as "Mention your state in your comment" should appear after the last comment so that it is seen before notaries asks their questions.


26 Feb 2023

Great advice. Can never be too careful.

12 Aug 2023

I’m ready


15 Jan 2024

I applied to renew my notary with the SOS in AZ. Will I receive a new stamp?

National Notary Association

20 Mar 2024

A stamp will not be provided by the state. You will need to purchase a stamp and provide a copy of your commission certificate in order for it to be manufactured. You can use the following link to purchase a stamp if you have not done so.

Ganesh S Moodalbail

15 Jan 2024

I am a newly commissioned in CA. Now digital DL/ID card introduced in California and it was accepted in airport across the country. Is digital IDs acceptable for notarisation in California ?

National Notary Association

09 Apr 2024

Digital IDs care not acceptable in California for the purposes of notarization at this time.

21 Mar 2024

Hi. I am trying to get the stuff I need to be online notary in Texas but I am lost on what I need?

National Notary Association

25 Mar 2024

Hello. You can find information and guidelines for Texas here:

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