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CHAPTER II.

Part A. Tools to Function as a Notary Public

Section 1. The Notarial Journal

     a. One Active Journal

A notary public must keep only one active sequential journal at a time containing all notarial acts.
California Government Code section 8206(a)(1).

Keeping more than one active journal is never allowed. For example, if a notary public performs notarial acts at multiple offices, that notary public cannot use and store a separate notarial journal at each office. Instead, that notary public must use one journal and take that one journal to each office where services are performed.

     b. Securing the Journal

No person except the notary public can have access to the notary publicís journal outside of the notary publicís presence including an employer who paid for the notary publicís journal. The journal must be stored in a locked and secured area that is under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public, for example a locking file cabinet, a safe or locked office. California Government Code section 8206(a)(1)

An office safe or file cabinet that any other person has access to is not an area under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public. It is unacceptable, for example, to keep the journal in a locked desk at home, if other family members have access to the contents of the desk. Failure to secure the journal may result in suspension or revocation of the notary publicís commission and civil and criminal penalties. California Government Code sections 8214.1(o), 8214.15(b), and 8228.1.

     c. Sequential Recording of Official Acts

All official acts performed as a notary public must be recorded in the notary publicís active journal at the time the act is performed. The journal entries must be made sequentially by recording each notarial act in order of occurrence one after the other. California Government Code section 8206(a)(1)

A notary public is guilty of a misdemeanor if the notary public willfully fails to properly maintain his or her notarial journal. California Government Code sections 8206(a) and 8228.1(a)

     d. Copying and Inspection of Journal

Any member of the public may request a photostatic copy of the journal entry representing a transaction. The request must be in writing and must include the name of the parties, the type of document, and the month and year in which the notarial act occurred. The notary public may charge no more than thirty cents per page for copy requests. California Government Code section 8206(c). However, a member of the public is not entitled to obtain a copy of other line items that may be on the same page of the notary publicís journal and care should be taken to ensure that only the requested line item entry is disclosed. The notary public must respond within 15 days of receipt of the request with either a plain copy (not certified) of the requested journal entry or an acknowledgment that no such line item exists.
California Government Code section 8206.5.

A notary public performing notarial duties for an employer must permit the employer or the employerís auditor or agent to inspect and copy journal entries. However, the inspection and copying must be done in the presence of the notary public and the journal entries being inspected and copied must be directly associated with the business purposes of the employer. The notary public, upon request of the employer, must provide plain copies (not certified) of all journal entries that are directly associated with the business purposes of the employer. California Government Code section 8206(d)

Upon receipt of a subpoena duces tecum or a court order, the notary public must provide the journal for examination and copying while the notary public remains present and the notary public must certify those copies, if requested. California Government Code section 8206(e)

     e. Surrender, Loss or Destruction of Journal

The notary publicís journal is the exclusive property of the notary public and cannot be surrendered to anyone (except as required with respect to a peace officer and county clerk as specified below). Even if the notary publicís private or public employer has paid all of the costs to obtain the notary publicís commission and has paid for all the costs to provide notarial services, the notary public cannot allow their employer to handle the journal outside the notary publicís presence, and cannot surrender the journal to the employer upon termination of employment. California Government Code section 8206(d)

A notary public must surrender their official journal immediately, or as soon as possible if the journal is not present, to a peace officer acting in his or her official capacity who has reasonable suspicion the journal contains evidence of a criminal offense and who is investigating that criminal offense.
California Government Code section 8206(d).

If the notarial journal is surrendered to a peace officer, the notary public must obtain a receipt for the journal and must notify the California Secretary of State by certified mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt within 10 days of the date of surrender. California Government Code section 8206(d). The notification must include the dates covered for the journal entries in the surrendered journal, the notary publicís commission number, the expiration date of the notary publicís commission and a copy of the receipt given by the peace officer for the journal.

If a notary publicís official journal is stolen, lost, misplaced, destroyed, damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable, the notary public must immediately notify the California Secretary of State by certified or registered mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt. The notification must include the dates covered for the journal entries, the notary publicís commission number, the expiration date of the notary publicís commission, and, when applicable, a photocopy of any police report that specifies the theft of the journal. California Government Code section 8206(b).

If a notary public surrenders the official journal, or if the notary publicís official journal is stolen, lost, misplaced, destroyed, damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable, the notary public must obtain a new journal. If the old journal is returned or found, entries must not be made in the old journal. The notary public must continue to use the new journal. California Government Code section 8206(d).

If a notary public resigns, is disqualified, or is removed from office, the notarial journal and all other notarial records must be delivered to the clerk of the county in which the notary publicís current oath is on file within 30 days of the resignation, disqualification or removal. Additionally, if a notary publicís commission expires and the notary public has not obtained reappointment within 30 days after the expiration of the commission, then the notarial journal and other notarial records must be delivered within the next 30 days to the county clerk. Even if a notary public has applied for reappointment, but, for whatever reason, is not granted a commission within 30 days after expiration of their commission, the notary public must deliver the notarial journal and other notarial records to the county clerk within the next 30 days. Willful failure to deliver the notarial journal and other notarial records to the county clerk within the appropriate time is a misdemeanor, and the notary public is personally liable for damages to any person injured by the non-delivery.
California Government Code section 8209(a).


Section 2. Seal

A notary public must have and use a seal purchased from a vendor or manufacturer authorized by the California Secretary of State. California Government Code sections 8207, 8207.2, and 8207.3.)

     a. Form of Seal

The notary public seal must be photographically reproducible, have a serrated or milled edge border, must clearly and legibly contain the State Seal, the words Notary Public, the notary publicís name, the commission expiration date, the county wherein the oath and bond are filed, the commission number assigned to the notary public, and the sequential identification number assigned to the manufacturer or vendor by the California Secretary of State. California Government Code section 8207.

The seal may be circular, but not over two inches in diameter, or may be rectangular and not more than one inch in width by two and one-half inches in length. California Government Code section 8207.

Best practices tip: Because the seal must be photographically reproducible, the rubber stamp seal has become almost universal. However, notaries public may use an embosser seal in addition to the rubber stamp or may use an embosser seal as the official seal if the embosser seal is inked.

     b. Obtaining a Seal

A notary public can purchase a seal only from a manufacturer or vendor authorized by the California Secretary of State. California Government Code sections 8207.2 and 8207.3. The California Secretary of State issues certificates of authorization with which a notary public can obtain an official notary public seal. Only the original certificate of authorization, not a copy, can be used to purchase the seal. A certificate of authorization to obtain an official seal will be provided by the California Secretary of State with the notary publicís commission. California Government Code sections 8207.2 and 8207.3

     c. Securing the Seal

The notary publicís seal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public. California Government Code section 8207

Remember, like the notary journal, no one else except the notary public can have access to the seal. An office safe or file cabinet that is accessible by others, even if locked, is not acceptable, nor is a locked desk at home, if other family members have access to the contents of the desk.

Failure to secure the seal may result in suspension or revocation of the commission and civil and criminal penalties. California Government Code sections 8214.1(d) and (o), 8214.15(a) or (b), and 8228.1(a)

The notary public seal is the exclusive property of the notary public, and must not be surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment, whether or not the employer paid for the seal.
California Government Code section 8207. The only exception to this rule is when a seal is surrendered in response to a court order and will be discussed in detail later.

     d. Use of the Seal

A notary public must use the seal solely for the purpose of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of a notary public. California Government Code section 8207

There is only one situation when the seal is not required. The use of the seal is not required for acknowledgments on California subdivision maps since the material used for such maps is generally not compatible with ink used on seals. In this one case, the notary publicís name, the county of the notary publicís principal place of business, and the commission expiration date must be typed or printed below or immediately adjacent to the notary publicís signature on the acknowledgment.
California Government Code section 66436(c)

Many documents that are acknowledged may later be submitted to a county for recording. The county recorder might not accept a document if the notary public seal is illegible. All elements of the seal must be visible. The seal should not be placed over signatures or any printed matter on the document. If the seal impression is not clear, the notary public should affix a new impression and never attempt to fix the old one, even if this requires attaching a separate notarial certificate.

     e. Lost or Damaged Seal; Destroying Seal

Any notary public whose official seal is lost, misplaced, destroyed, broken, damaged or is rendered otherwise unworkable must immediately mail or deliver written notice of that fact to the California Secretary of State. If requested by the notary public, the California Secretary of State will issue a new certificate of authorization for a seal within five working days after receipt of the notice, which a notary public may use to obtain a replacement seal. California Government Code section 8207.3(e)

The notary public, or his or her representative, must destroy or deface the seal upon termination, resignation, or revocation of the notary publicís commission or the death of the notary public.
California Government Code section 8207
 

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