Each notary public is required to have and to use a seal. The seal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control 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, or to any other person.
Because of the legal requirement that the seal be photographically reproducible, the rubber stamp seal has become all but universal; however, notaries public may use an embosser seal in addition to the rubber stamp. The legal requirements for a seal are shown below. (Government Code section 8207)The seal must:
Many documents that are acknowledged may later be recorded. A document may not be accepted by the recorder if the notary public seal is illegible. Notaries public are cautioned to take care that the notary public stamp leaves a clear impression. All the elements must be discernible. The seal should not be placed over signatures or over any printed matter on the document. An illegible or improperly placed seal may result in rejection of the document for recordation and result in inconveniences and extra expenses for all those involved.
The law allows a condition under which a notary public may authenticate an official act without using an official notary public seal. Because subdivision maps usually are drawn on a material that will not accept standard stamp pad ink and other acceptable inks are not as readily available, acknowledgments for California subdivision map certificates may be notarized without the official seal. The notary public’s name, the county of the notary public’s principal place of business, and the commission expiration date must be typed or printed below or immediately adjacent to the notary public’s signature on the acknowledgment. (Government Code section 66436(c))
A NOTARY PUBLIC SHALL NOT USE THE OFFICIAL SEAL OR THE TITLE NOTARY PUBLIC FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN THE RENDERING OF NOTARIAL SERVICE. (Government Code section 8207)
A notary public is guilty of a misdemeanor if the notary public willfully fails to keep his or her notary public seal under the notary public’s direct and exclusive control or if the notary public willfully surrenders the notary public’s seal to any person not authorized to possess it. (Government Code section 8228.1)
When the notary public commission is no longer valid, the notary public seal must be destroyed to protect the notary public from possible fraudulent use by another. (Government Code section 8207)