acceptable forms of id for notary x

The primary duty or responsibility of a notary public is to carefully verify the identities of each signer on various types of documents, such as marriage certificates and birth certificates. This is done to guard against fraudulent acts that might otherwise void the notarized documents. But what forms of ID are acceptable for a notary?

As notaries are charged with the important and sensitive task of verifying the identities of signers, spotting a fake or counterfeit ID is an essential part of notarizing financial and legal documents.

Did you know that there are more than 200 different forms of government-issued IDs in the U.S.? What complicates things further is the fact that not every state sets clear guidelines and rules on identification requirements.  

This is why determining if a specific ID is acceptable for a notary or not can sometimes be challenging. Given the wide variety of government-issued IDs, you will likely come across an unfamiliar ID.

So will you decide if a particular ID is acceptable? It is worth noting that this depends on where you’re commissioned. 

As guidelines and requirements can vary greatly from one state to another, you will have to be familiar and up to date with the ID requirements in your state. For example, these guidelines will also determine how much discretion or judgment a notary must exercise in either accepting or refusing an ID.

Typically, the notary public asks each signer to provide identification to verify their identity. And if the client does not provide an acceptable form of government identification, the notary public has a legal obligation to refuse the service. So, what is deemed an “acceptable” form of ID when looking for the services of a notary public? Let’s find out:

  1. What forms of ID are acceptable for RON

Acceptable forms of ID for notarization in: 

  1. Washington State
  2. Florida
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. North Carolina
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Texas
  9. PandaDoc Notary trusted ID verification methods

1. What forms of ID are acceptable for RON

The National Notary Association reveals that notaries are often presented with expired IDs. For example, keep in mind that the disabled, elderly, or any individual who no longer drives, usually has an expired identification. You should know that the most common acceptable type of ID is a driver’s license. The license, however, must be current.

And when it comes to Remote Online Notarization (RON), there’s one question that notaries ask more than any other question: How to identify a signer who can be hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of miles away while the notarization process takes place? 

Note that the answer depends on the state laws. It also depends on the technology platform you are using to perform the notarization. Notaries are often confronted with inadequate and improper identification documents when notarizing online.

Many states with permanent RON statutes and regulations allow notaries to identify a remote or online document signer with two traditional identification methods. These methods are used in conventional paper notarizations, while one new approach is unique to remote online notarization. Keep in mind that these methods are a credible witness, personal knowledge, or a multi-part identity verification process. 

Also, it is worth noting that the Model Notary Act requires that a notary be presented with two acceptable forms of identity (at least) before notarizing any document. Most states have adopted the Model Notary Act in part or in whole.

Acceptable forms of ID for notarization

2. Washington State

In most cases, Social Security cards, marriage or birth certificates, credit cards, library cards, school IDs, and temporary driver’s licenses aren’t acceptable forms of ID for the purposes of notarization.

Satisfactory evidence

Acceptable identification may comprise a government-issued or any tribal driver’s license or ID card. It can also consist of an official military ID card or valid passport. 

Did you know that Washington has become one of several U.S. states to revise and amend its rules on the kinds of identification notaries can accept as proof of a signer’s identity? And a new administrative rule now authorizes notaries in Washington to accept tribal government identification cards or passports as satisfactory and adequate evidence of a signer’s identity. The law was implemented on April 23, 2015.

Acceptable forms of ID in Washington include IDs and passports, driver’s licenses, or state IDs that:

  • A federal or state government has issued 
  • ID or passport has to be current (expired IDs won’t be accepted).
  • ID or passport must have the individual’s photo, physical description, and signature.

According to Washington administrative rule, notaries are allowed to accept passports as proof of identity, as long as the passport is current and issued by the U.S. State Department (or any foreign government that the State Department recognizes). It must also include the bearer’s signature and photograph. 

Keep in mind that this allows both U.S. citizens and foreign citizens to use passports in order to obtain the services of reliable Washington notaries if required.

3. Florida

Did you know that Florida law provides a comprehensive list of satisfactory identification or proof of identification? Remember that there are three main categories of identification acceptable for notarization in Florida. 

These are personal knowledge and a government-issued ID card. The third is the oath of a credible witness that the notary personally knows and who personally knows the signer.

Personally known

Florida notary laws and regulations don’t require evidence of the identity of the person signing a document, such as a marriage certificate, to be presented if the notary personally knows the person’s identity. However, the safer method is for a notary to ask for suitable evidence of identity whenever a document is notarized.

Acceptable IDs 

The most common form of satisfactory identification in Florida is a card or document, like a U.S. Passport or a driver’s license. It can also be any card that a state or federal government agency has issued, provided it contains the signature and photograph of the individual that makes the acknowledgement or takes the oath.

However, the identification document has to be current, meaning it must have been issued in the past five years. 

However, you cannot rely on documents, such as birth certificates, credit cards, social security cards, or check cashing cards in order to identify the person.

Credible witness

We can define a credible witness as an individual who knows the signer of the document. As a result, they can vouch for the signer’s identity. Florida allows the use of credible witness in order to verify a signer’s identity.

4. Arizona

Every signer has to show valid (not expired) photographic identification in Arizona. All identification must have a photograph, a physical description, a serial number and a signature. Keep in mind that Arizona recognizes the following kinds of identification if issued within the past five years:

​US driver’s license

The license must be unexpired and contain the person’s photo, signature as well as physical description, including weight, height, and eye and hair color. It must be issued by a state or territory of the US.

You should know that the presentation of a foreign license isn’t accepted in Arizona for the purpose of identification — except when performing real estate transactions.

U.S. passport

The passport must be current and issued by the U.S. Department of State. The presentation of a foreign passport isn’t accepted in Arizona for the purpose of identification – except when performing real estate transactions.

Armed forces ID

The ID must be unexpired and issued by any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Other government issued ID

The ID must be unexpired and contain the person’s photo, signature as well as physical description, including weight, height, and eye and hair color. It must be issued by the US government, tribal government or a state or US territory.

Credible person(s)

If you don’t know the signer personally and they don’t have a valid ID, you can use a credible person in order to identify the signer. For this purpose, a credible person is someone who knows the document signer personally. 

5. California

In California, a notary can establish a document signer’s identity with the following forms of identification. 

  • An ID card or driver’s license that the California Department of Motor Vehicles has issued
  • A U.S. passport
  • An inmate ID card that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has issued, if the inmate is currently in custody in California state prison 
  • Any type of inmate identification that a sheriff’s department has issued, if the inmate is currently in custody in any local detention facility

Keep in mind that these forms of identification must be current or have been issued by the relevant body within the last five years.

The state of California doesn’t allow signers to be identified personally. This means that even if a notary is acquainted personally with a signer, state law and rules prohibit using personal knowledge in order to identify signers.

As a California notary, you may also rely on the following forms of identification. However, these forms of ID must contain a photo, description of the individual, the signature of the individual, and an identifying number.

  • A legal consular identification document that a consulate from the applicant’s country of citizenship has issued, or a passport from the applicant’s country of citizenship
  • A valid driver’s license issued by another state or a license by a Mexican or Canadian public agency or body authorized to issue driver’s licenses
  • An ID card that another state has issued
  • A U.S. military identification card 
  • An identification card that a federally recognized tribal government has issued
  • An employee ID card issued by an office or agency of the State of California

6. Colorado

In most cases, a Colorado driver’s license or identification card, U.S. passport, or a US military ID are the best types of identification. However, keep in mind that in some cases, a foreign passport, a driver’s license from another state, or a visa or permanent resident card may also be acceptable. 

  • Current Colorado ID card or driver’s license. If you are more than 60, the official ID card is absolutely free! Click here to learn more. 
  • Current U.S. passport or Canadian passport
  • Current and valid driver’s license from another state (provide it shows your photograph and signature)
  • Valid U.S. Military ID with photograph and signature

7. North Carolina

The following are acceptable IDs in North Carolina:

  • An identification card or driver’s license that the North Carolina Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has issued
  • US passport issued by the United States State Department
  • Foreign passport if duly stamped by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration)
  • Driver’s license or a non-driver’s ID issued by another US territory or state
  • U.S. military ID
  • Valid driver’s license officially issued in Canada or Mexico 
  • An inmate ID card issued after or on 1/1/1991 by the Federal Bureau of Prisons or North Carolina Department of Corrections (but to identify prisoners only)

8. Pennsylvania

The following are acceptable IDs in Pennsylvania:

  • A driver’s license, passport, or government-issued non-driver ID card, which is unexpired and current.
  • Another type of government identification issued to a person which:
    • Is current
    • Includes a photograph and signature of the person  
    • Is deemed satisfactory by the notary public

These include military IDs and a Pennsylvania state or state-related university ID card.

9. Texas

Texas law requires an identifying document, such as a driver’s license or card relied on by a notary to identify a person must be current. It must be issued by a state or federal government agency and include a photo and signature of the person (TCPRC, Sec. 121.005 and NPEM).

The IDs authorized are:

  • State driver’s license and official non-driver’s IDs
  • U.S. passports and U.S. military IDs
  • IDs as well as resident alien IDs, including green cards, that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have issued

IDs are deemed valid if they have the following:

  • A photograph 
  • A physical description 
  • A signature of the bearer. Note that most government-issued IDs have all three components.

10. PandaDoc Notary trusted ID verification methods

Are you interested in going through the important process of notarized ID verification? If so, you should know and understand how to complete your identity verification. Keep in mind that using a digital signature or e-signature and a valid digital certificate, you can easily do two things – you can verify that you were the person who signed as well as sealed the document and verify the document hasn’t been tampered with or changed.

PandaDoc Notary secure ID verification is one of the best methods of digitally verifying government-issued IDs and documents. You can trust PandaDoc Notary’s secure ID verification methods as they adhere to and comply with state standards.

The signer can upload ID documents on PandaDoc Notary before connecting to the notary or during the session. And if a notary knows the client well enough, they can choose “personally known.” This allows you to reduce risk and cost by automating identification anytime and almost anywhere. 

PandaDoc Notary provides an all-in-one and reliable Remote Online Notarization (RON) platform, complete with everything that your business needs in order to notarize documents and certificates securely online. 

Final thoughts

While the identification laws are different in every state, note that a notary must properly identify a signer before notarizing a signer’s document. As you can see, most states, such as California, specifically indicate what an acceptable form of identification is.

Some states mention the types of ID a notary can accept in order to identify a signer; however, many states, such as Pennsylvania, leave the determination of an ID’s appropriateness or suitability up to the notary.

Guy Pearson has been a commissioned notary for more than seven years. He also runs one of the most established Facebook groups for Remote Online Notarization (RON), with more than 7000 members nationwide. Guy is the co-founder and product leader of PandaDoc Notary. His team drives product initiatives in key verticals, such as Legal, Financial, and Real Estate.

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