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4 Do’s And Don’ts When Storing Your Seal And Journal

New-seal-journal-resized.jpgUpdated 1-2-20. Not every state sets rules for storing a Notary seal and journal. However, taking steps to safeguard your tools will protect you and your customers from fraud and breaches of privacy. Here are 4 important practices to follow when keeping a seal and journal.

1. Don’t Leave Your Journal And Seal Out 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. Do Store Your Tools 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 8207). 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 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. Do Follow Your State’s Rules For Storing And Disposing Of Old 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 5 years after the notarization was performed.

If your state does not provide guidelines for 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 an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

11 Comments

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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

Thanks

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