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Six Critical Steps to Follow if a Notary Stamp is Lost

by American Association of Notaries
If you lose your notary seal, will you react like the notary public in today's example? Of course, you won't! Everything that this notary does is wrong. Today, learn from his mistakes and make note of the six critical steps that you must follow when a notarial seal is lost.

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:

  1. Look diligently for the missing notarial seal; do so immediately! In the wrong hands, your seal can be used to commit fraud or forgery.

  2. 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.)

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

Space too Small for your Notary Stamp?

by American Association of Notaries
Most of us have been in this predicament--a client hands over a document and it is filled to its edges with text. You visually scan the document and see it includes a pre-printed notarial certificate that is barely the size of a business card. Even worse, you note that the area intended for your notary seal would be the perfect size, but only if you were a Notary Ken or Notary Barbie doll!

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.

The solution:

  • 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.

Understanding Affidavits

by American Association of Notaries
An affidavit is a sworn or affirmed statement made before a notary public or any public official who has the authority to administer oaths. It is made under penalty of perjury, and the official must administer an oath or affirmation to the signer(s), witness the signing of the document and certify it by placing his official signature and seal and completing the notarial certificate called a jurat. (more...)

Protect Yourself: Report Stolen Notary Seals!

by American Association of Notaries
Have you recently left a job and had your seal or journal held back by your employer? Have you noticed that one or more of your seals is missing? If so, take immediate action to protect yourself. (more...)

What to Do When There Is No Pre-Printed Notary Certificate

by American Association of Notaries
If you provide notary services long enough, you will encounter people who have letters or statements or other documents that lack a pre-printed notary certificate. These are often the result of someone being told that they need a notarized statement or release or authorization in order to accomplish some purpose they have chosen. (more...)

Notary Journals Raise Issues about Public Records versus Privacy

by American Association of Notaries
Notaries public have access to many items of personal information in order to do a proper job of notarizing. We have to see the entire document to make sure the signer is able to freely and willingly sign. We have to briefly review the document to gather some specifics to record in our notary journals. We have to examine the satisfactory evidence presented that establishes the identity of the signer and record details of that evidence in our journals. Other specific information about the circumstances of the notarization (as covered in other articles in this series) has to be written into the journal as well. (more...)

How to Handle Documents with Pre-Printed Notarial Certificates

by American Association of Notaries
If a document has a pre-printed notarial certificate, that certificate serves two purposes: (more...)

The Contents of a Notary Journal

by American Association of Notaries
There are three primary types of notary journals. One has minimal space per entry; one has more generous space per entry but fewer entries per page; and one is designed for notary signing agents and has frequently-seen real estate documents pre-listed in it. Each of these three types can be found in paperback or hardback. Which type you choose is your decision. It is important to see a sample page of the journal before you buy it, as you will be using it for some time. (more...)

Why a Notary Journal Is Required

by American Association of Notaries
Almost no one likes to do paperwork, especially if they don't have to do it. So, if you tell them that paperwork is not required, most people will be happy to believe you and skip it. When it comes to the notary journal, skipping the paperwork is not an option. Keeping a notary journal is required for the following reasons: (more...)

Notary Public Seals or Stamps

by American Association of Notaries
The need for a trusted and impartial witness who can write down commercial and other agreements has been recognized since the time of the ancient Romans, who created the office of notarius or scribii to fulfill this need. If the parties to the agreement could not write, they used a metal or clay disk with a distinctive design or coat of arms (a private seal) pressed into melted wax in place of a signature. In the following centuries, as paper making became more widespread and written agreements became longer, the pages of a document were bound together by making holes in the margins, tying the pages together with a ribbon, and pouring wax over the ribbon's knot. If the document were to be notarized, the notary would press his official seal into the wax, thereby sealing the pages of the document together. (more...)
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Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.

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