Keeping a Notary Journal
Notary Journal Entries
1. Date of notarial act
2. Type of notarial act (oath, affirmation, acknowledgment, certified copy)
3. Document date, if different from date of notarization
4. Name and address of signer and any witnesses
5. Signature of signer and any witnesses
6. Any other information the Notary considers appropriate to record
As a best practice, it is a good idea to complete the journal entry before notarizing the document. To prevent identity theft, the notary should not record the full ID number of the signer. Record the last 4 digits only, as evidence that the ID was inspected.
Another best practice is to take the right thumbprint of the signer and any witnesses. While a signature may be forged, the thumbprint cannot be forged and is evidence that the signer appeared in person before the notary.
Electronic Notary Journals
Some electronic notary journals are available, but I recommend using a paper journal. The paper journal does not require any batteries or software, is rugged and not damaged if you drop it.
In some secure facilities, such as a jail, prison, military base, government office, government contractor or research facility, visitors may not take electronic devices inside. So, a paper journal is required.
With an electronic journal, a signature made by using a fingertip or stylus may not look like a normal signature made with a pen on paper. An electronic journal may not be able to record the thumbprint of the signer.
And, the signer may be reluctant to enter a signature on an electronic device where the data and signature are stored in a remote location using cloud storage. The notary has a duty to keep the journal secure. Using cloud storage increases the risk of criminals breaking in to electronic records.
Notary laws vary. Be sure to follow the laws for keeping a notary journal in your state.