Notary journal best practices

As a notary public, your notary journal is one of the most important tools you have to protect yourself and your clients. Accurate and detailed notary journal entries can be used to resolve legal disputes about a transaction that you notarized and can give you the confidence to testify under oath about any notarial act that you performed.

To ensure you are in compliance with your state’s notary laws and you are protecting your clients’ privacy, follow the best practices listed below:

Record the information required by your state

Each state has its own specific requirements for what information must be chronicled in the notary journal. That’s why it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your state’s notary laws and rules. By doing so, you can ensure that your journal is always up-to-date and compliant with the law.

Do not record personal identifying information

In most states, notaries are strictly prohibited from recording any biometric or personal identifying information in their notary journals. This includes information such as your client’s thumbprints, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, or any other sensitive information that could compromise a client’s identity. The purpose of a notary journal is to provide a record of the notarial act, not to collect personal identifying information. By following these guidelines, notaries can ensure that their clients’ private information remains secure and protected.

Maintain exclusive control over your notary journal

The notary journal should not be accessible or controlled by anyone but you. Maintaining exclusive control over the notary journal is important to ensure the integrity and security of notarial records. Notary journals typically contain important information about notarized transactions, including dates, names of parties involved, and details of the notarization. That this information remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access is essential.

Allow the inspection of your notary journal records

As a notary public, it is important to understand that in most states, notary journals are considered public records. This means that providing access to a journal entry or providing a copy or a certified copy of the record upon request is not only your responsibility but also a legal obligation. Failure to do so may result in an administrative action against you, which could include fines or even revocation of your notary commission.

Each state has its own set of rules and requirements for who can inspect these records. Therefore, consulting your state’s notary laws to ensure compliance with these regulations is critical.

Know your state’s journal retention requirements

Most states require notaries to retain their notary journals for a specific period. The retention period ensures that notarial records are available for inspection when necessary. Failure to retain notary journals or deposit your journals as required by your state’s notary laws can result in penalties and fines. Your notary liability does not end when you resign or decide not to renew your notary commission. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize the proper storage and retention of your notary journals to comply with legal requirements and protect yourself from any potential legal issues.

Report lost or stolen notary journals

Notary journals can be lost or stolen. If this happens, it is very important to follow your state’s notary laws and regulations to report the incident. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences if a notarial act you performed is later questioned. Don’t let a lost or stolen journal put your notary commission at risk—take action and report the incident as soon as possible.

Use a notary journal that complies with your state’s notary laws

It is crucial to maintain a properly constructed notary journal that complies with your state’s notary laws to ensure the integrity of your notarial acts. Most states mandate that a notary journal be permanently bound with its pages chronologically numbered. This makes it difficult to remove or replace a page, which would show that the notary journal has been tampered with. By following these guidelines, you can maintain a reliable record of your notarial acts and protect yourself against potential legal issues.

Consider using a notary e-notary journal

In today’s digital age, keeping up with technological advancements in all aspects of life, including notary services, is important. One such advancement is recording your notarial acts in a notary e-journal. The electronic notary journal allows notaries to keep a digital record of all notarial acts, which makes it easier to maintain accurate records and prevent fraud. Notary e-journals also provide additional security measures, such as tamper-evidence technology and password protection, to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive information.

At the American Association of Notaries, we understand that record keeping is crucial for notaries. That’s why we’re excited to introduce our game-changing notary e-journal! Our cutting-edge and customizable interface makes record keeping easy and convenient. And the best part? It’s available to all AAN members at no cost! If you’re not a member, no problem—you can try it for free for 30 days by creating an account at No credit card is required. Our notary e-journal is the solution you’ve been waiting for to revolutionize the way you maintain and record notarial acts.

Say goodbye to the hassle of manual recording and hello to a more efficient and organized process. Don’t wait any longer—create your free account today at and see the difference for yourself!

As always, be sure to consult your state’s notary journal requirements to ensure you’re in compliance.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is important to note that the information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss, or consequential loss, out of or in connection with the use of the information contained on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.