Meet Paul, a terribly careless notary public:
Paul arrived at work and reached inside his unlocked notary supplies drawer for his favorite notary stamp. The round notary seal with blue ink wasn't in its place. He wasn't worried. Paul popped open his mobile notary briefcase and retrieved a smaller, rectangular-shaped notary seal that was tucked behind a stack of loose notarial certificates. The careless notary thought little more about his lost notary seal and went about his business.
At the end of the day, Paul glanced around once more, scanning the notary office for his missing notarial seal. He remembered that he might have left it on the customer counter the previous day when he left hurriedly for a mobile notary assignment. He decided to check. A notary fee sign sat on the busy customer countertop beside a tray of notary journals that Paul and the other notaries used when they were in the office. He peeked around the notary fee sign and looked in the tray of notary journals; the notary seal was not there.
The notary shrugged and boasted to his notary co-workers that the spare notary stamp in his briefcase had saved the day. Paul said that if his favorite notary seal didn't reappear in a week or so, he would invest in two duplicates just in case he lost another one. Paul left his office feeling satisfied that he had done all he needed to do regarding the lost notary seal.
Paul is a perfect example of what NOT to do. Here are the correct steps you must take if you lose your notary seal:
- Look diligently for the missing notarial seal; do so immediately! In the wrong hands, your seal can be used to commit fraud or forgery.
- Immediately advise the notary public administrator in your state that you have lost your seal. Some states require notaries to fill out a form; others require a call to the state's office. Many states have certain procedures to follow, but if none are outlined for your state, we suggest that you notify the office that issued your notary commission by certified mail as well as by email or fax. (Also, if you need authorization to order a new notary seal, request it at this time or as soon as you have fulfilled your state's requirements to receive authorization.)
- Report the missing notary seal to your local law enforcement. Write a very detailed description of the notary stamp including its brand, type, shape, size, and ink color; take it with you when you make your report.
- Advise your notary bonding agency. If you purchased your notary bond and notary supplies through the American Association of Notaries, contact us right away. Otherwise, contact your bonding and supply company. If your state does not require you to have a notary bond, you may skip this step.
- Order a new notary seal. Don't order a duplicate of your lost notary stamp. Your replacement notary seal should be a different size or shape, and, if possible, it should have a different color of ink. Consider changing your official notary name and signature. This might include a name change fee, but it would provide double protection for you if your notary seal is used to commit fraud or forgery.
- Keep records; staple copies of the above documentation in your journal. Make a detailed memo in your notary record book about the circumstances involving your missing notarial seal; document the steps you took and the date you began using your new notary stamp.
If you need our help, please call us. The American Association of Notaries is here to serve you. Call 1-800-721-2663 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When faced with a notarial certificate that provides only a dime-sized space to place your official notary seal, what can you do? You need a solid fallback plan because you certainly can't stamp over any of the text.
- Be prepared for this situation; always have a supply of loose notarial certificates handy, both jurat and acknowledgment certificates.
- Describe the problem to your client and tell him or her that you plan to attach an appropriate notarial certificate to the document, one that matches the original certificate's language.
- After receiving the client's approval, mark one line through the tiny certificate, neatly print, See attached statutory notarial certificate, and, initial your changes.
- Complete the attached certificate, writing on it the title of the document you have attached it to and its number of pages; note in your notary journal that you attached the loose certificate and why you did so.
If the client says you may not replace the certificate, you must decline to notarize the document. Explain that covering document text with a notary seal will almost certainly invalidate an important document, especially one that will be recorded.
In less extreme cases, there may be room on the certificate for a smaller notarial seal. Many of our members have said great things about the Trodat pocket notary stamp that has a baby's footprint of 9/16 x 2 1/8 - it's sold on our website. It could be a great tool for you if your state allows it.
Loose notarial certificates or the Trodat pocket notary stamp are available on our website.
Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety. American Association of Notaries is owned by Kal Tabbara, a licensed insurance agent.