This site uses cookies

Why? They let us personalize content, track usage, and analyze data on our end to improve your experience. By continuing to browse our site, you accept our use of cookies per our privacy policy.

I Accept

Notary Notes

To Keep or Not to Keep Copies

by PAN
Over the years, a number of notaries have casually revealed to us that they keep copies of their customers’ identification and the documents they notarize, either because they believe such a practice is “required by law,” or simply because they are inordinately afraid of a lawsuit.

Our answer has always been just one word: “Don’t.”

Notaries are not required to keep copies of their customers’ identification or the documents they notarize. The Notary Public Law [57 P.S. §149 et seq.] only requires notaries to keep a register, a chronological record of every notarial act, including the date of the act, the names of the parties, the date of the instrument, the type of act and the notarial fee charged.

Don’t record a customer’s Social Security number (SSN), driver’s license number, or other identifying information in your notarial register. Because your register is open to public inspection, SSNs and other identifying information should not be recorded.

The Remarks column of the register is not required by law, but it is a good idea to use this column. You may note the type of ID you accepted and include the issuing agency and expiration date. For example, the notation “PA DL 4/2009” would indicate that the customer presented a Pennsylvania Driver’s License with an expiration date of April 2009. You can also note any special circumstances or observations you make about the transaction. The purpose of this information is to help you remember the transaction or let authorities trace the customer in the event you are called to testify about the notarial act. Years after a transaction has occurred, the notations you made in your notarial register will be your best source of support.

Don’t think that keeping copies of your customers’ identification or documents will protect you in the event of a lawsuit. In fact, if your records are lost or stolen and used to commit identity theft or fraud, you may be sued by any or all of your customers whose records were in your possession.

Don’t confuse ordinary notarial work with motor vehicle work. Agents who are under contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to issue registration cards and/or plates are required to keep copies of forms, identification, and insurance information for three years. These records must be securely stored according to the requirements of the agent service contract.

An agent who fails to follow these requirements may be punished with a written warning, a three-month suspension, or the revocation of his or her contract. Don’t confuse notarial work with notary signing agent work. In addition to the register required by the Notary Public Law, notary signing agents must keep careful records of all business transactions they conduct. Because the notarial register is for recording only the information required by law, most notary signing agents keep an additional, separate log of business information, including fees and expenses.

Remember, notaries are not required to keep copies of their customers’ identification or the documents they notarize. Don’t do it.

Comments (0)

Get Expert Guidance

PAN makes it easy to become a Pennsylvania notary or renew your commission. We guide you through the complicated process and provide everything you need as a notary.

Become a Notary  Renew Your Notary