Secretary of State has clarified journal entries for California notaries.
It is important for notaries to remember that we are the “keepers of the books” and as such we need detailed records in our sequential journal.
The notary public journal entry should be full and complete and must include all the following items:
- Notarial Act:
- Type of Official Notarial Act Performed - e.g. Acknowledgment, Jurat, Proof of Execution, etc.
- Title of Document:
- Character, Title of every instrument sworn, affirmed, acknowledged, or proved before the notary public - e.g. Deed of Trust, etc.
- If more than one document is notarized for the signer, the notary public must record the title or character of each document on a separate line in the journal.
- Note: Signatures on grant deeds are acknowledged. The journal entry for a grant deed will describe the character/title of the instrument/document as a “Grant Deed” and type of notarial act performed as an “Acknowledgment.”
- Identity of Signer
- The Identity of the Signed must be based on Satisfactory Evidence only (see pages 8-9 of the 2018 Secretary of State Handbook).
- Date and Time:
- Both date and time the notary public performed the notarial service must be entered.
- The time may be written in standard or military format, but the law requires the time of the act to be recorded. The date alone is insufficient. Be consistent in the way date and time are entered.
- Notary Fee: The “Fee” column cannot be left blank.
- Only notarial fees are to be listed in the “Fee” column of the journal.
- If no fee is charged, “0” or “No Fee” should be entered in the “Fee” column.
- If there are additional charges for travel or other services, those additional charges may be itemized in the “additional information” or “comments” column to distinguish those types of fees from notarial act fees.
- Signature of Signer: Every signer must sign/mark the notary’s journal.
- If more than one document is notarized for a signer, he/she must sign for each document notarized – e.g. Sam has five documents notarized; Sam signs the journal on five lines of entry.
- Note: the printed name and address of the signer are not required to be entered into the journal.
- Best Practices Tip: For good business practice, it may be prudent to include these for future lawful inspection.
- The right thumbprint of the signer is required to be entered in the notary’s journal for Deeds, Real Property, and Powers of Attorney.
- If the Right Thumbprint is Not Available, an explanation and which alternate digit used is necessary.
- If there are no digits -e.g. double amputee, too burned for prints, etc. – an explanation is required in place of the print.
- Best Practices Tip: Obtain a thumbprint for every notarized document.
- Additional Information Column
- Most journals have a column for your personal notes and qualifying information for future reference but is not a legal requirement – e.g. credible witness, signature by mark, etc.