What forms of ID can a notary accept?


The acceptable forms of ID are simplified and not as extensive as you may believe. With acceptable forms of ID, the idea is to prevent identity theft or common identification mistakes. And to be 100% certain, it is vital to communicate with a notary public and confirm identification.

Forms of ID are that are acceptable for a notary:

  • State-specific ID card
  • State-specific driver’s license
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military identification
  • Green card that works as a permanent resident card
  • Local, county, and state government IDs
  • Digital driver’s license
  • Foreign passport

Now, notaries accept a wide range of IDs. For starters, a government-issued form of ID like a driver’s license has become a standard. Similarly, a passport can also work as one of the most acceptable forms of ID. On the other hand, military ID or state ID card is deemed other acceptable forms of ID.

If you’re wondering what qualifies as acceptable and non-acceptable forms of ID, continue reading:

What happens when you don’t have an acceptable form of ID?

If you don’t have a government-issued ID, you can use a bank statement or utility bill to notarize a document. But if you’re uncertain whether or not your ID is acceptable, reach out to a public notary to form a clear understanding.

In terms of satisfactory evidence acceptable identification, your public notary will ask you for an ID to verify and confirm your identity. After all, it is the best way to get protection from potential fraud, and failure to confirm ID voids the whole notarized document.

Acceptable forms of identification for notary services

All 50 states need the same types of identification for notarial services, allowing the use of driver’s licenses, state ID cards, etc., but excluding the use of school ID cards, birth certificates, and other similar documents. Clients requesting notarial services must have at least one valid form of identification with them.

Apart from standard acceptable forms of ID, each state has its own laws and requirements. So, broaden your understanding of existing state laws and acceptable forms of ID to verify the signer’s identification.

What else?

  • If the signer is in federal or state custody, the focus would be on the inmate ID used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons or State Department of Corrections.
  • In case of custody in a county, the county sheriff is responsible for issuing the inmate’s ID.
  • Acceptable form of ID by the Department of Homeland Security

Unacceptable forms of identification for notary services

For notarization purposes, signers have to focus on specific state and federal-issued government IDs to notarize documents successfully. In fact, some states have stringent practices and mandate specific types of ID. As a signer, the last thing you want to do is generalize or make preconceived assumptions about required forms of ID.

If you want to ensure a successful notarization process, make sure not to bring or rely on IDs like:

  • school IDs
  • debit cards
  • credit cards
  • marriage certificates
  • general identification card
  • birth certificates
  • library cards
  • social security cards

If you haven’t been able to get an acceptable form of ID, a public notary will help you to verify your ID via a credible witness. In layman’s terms, a credible witness is someone who vouches for your identity and can help the public notary confirm that you’re the correct signer.

However, understand that a family member or a friend cannot vouch for your identity. In fact, using a credible witness is not an added convenience. Instead, a credible witness comes into play in emergency cases to verify the identity of the signer.

If you want to play safe, follow the lead of other signers and ask your notary public about the required documents. But take into account that some documents are deemed acceptable by the state and federal government. Ideally, don’t expect indirect and third-party IDs to work as acceptable forms of identification for notarization.

Common documents required for notarization

Notarization comes into play whether it’s adoption, legal transaction, conservatorship, and purchase or sale of a real estate property. Most legal transactions now require notarization. In fact, any document that local county, state, or federal officials have to record requires notarization.

Here are the most common documents the signer needs to notarize a document:

  • Bill of Sale
  • Transfer of Deed
  • Grant Deed
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Adjusted Revocable Trust
  • Sworn Statement (i.e., Oath, Jurat)
  • Travel Parental Consent
  • Health-based Power of Attorney
  • Inter-spousal Deed of Transfer
  • Trustee Resignation
  • Enrollment Verification of Student
  • Purchase Agreement
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Pre and post-nuptial Agreements

Can a notary accept an expired ID in Alabama?

When it comes to notarization, some states mandate the signer to use the most recent form of ID. On the other hand, some states don’t have trouble accepting expired IDs as long as they were issued in the last five years.

The state of Alabama allows public notaries to accept signers’ expired IDs living in an assisted living facility. But as mentioned earlier, ensure ID has not expired for at least five years before moving forward with the notarization process.

Credible witness

Usually, the confusion creeps in when states are not specific about what constitutes a current, unexpired, or valid form of ID. Even if accepting an expired ID goes out of the window, the public notary can still use other ways like using a credible witness to identify the signer.

Can notaries accept digital driver’s licenses?

Here’s the thing – not every state accepts digital driver’s licenses. As of now, Louisiana, Wyoming, Florida, and Colorado are the only states that allow their public notaries to deem digital driver’s licenses an acceptable form of ID.

A public notary uses a digital driver’s license just like a manual driver’s license to verify the identity of the signer. So, why do only a few states permit digital driver’s licenses as an acceptable form of ID? Well, digital driver’s licenses often come across as suspicious.

In the past, there have been several instances where signers tried to pass someone else’s driver’s license in the form of a digital driver’s license. Unlike a physical driver’s license, it is easy to edit and manipulate a digital driver’s license.

Fortunately, there are online verification tools that public notaries can use to verify digital driver’s licenses. When it comes to digital driver’s licenses, the focus of a public notary is to make sure there are no red flags. Specifically, a public notary cross-references the information details in the physical and digital driver’s licenses.

A public notary takes various security measures throughout this inspection to confirm the digital driver’s license. Oftentimes, there are warning signs that hint at the possibility of an imposter. However, people can lose or gain weight and change their visual appearance. As a result, it often leads to confusion and back-and-forth communication to verify the information in the digital driver’s license.

What should be your approach?

Focus on the basics and understand that a public notary verifies and confirms the signer’s identity on a document. Typically, signers are asked to bring at least one form of acceptable ID. According to state and federal laws, public notaries are responsible for performing various important duties that process the notarized document correctly.

Mainly, a notary public needs to verify the identity of the signer and ensure the signed document does not involve coercion. The fact of the matter is that without acceptable forms of ID, you cannot successfully notarize a document in any state. In fact, without any acceptable form of ID, you cannot initiate the notarization process.

For instance, some states require specific forms of acceptable ID, while some states give public notaries the freedom to determine a suitable form of ID to notarize a document. Nonetheless, all states require signers to have relevant and acceptable forms of ID for notarization.

Final thoughts

In retrospect, the notary public asks the signer to bring a federal or state-issued government ID that contains the most recent photograph, signature, and physical description. In fact, public notaries focus on these three elements to confirm the identity of the signer.

Leverage PandaDoc Notary platform

Handling a notarization process requires tact and active engagement. The notarization process is simple and easy on the PandaDoc Notary platform. The best part is that you don’t need the technical knowledge to notarize a document. Unlike the traditional in-person notarization process, remote notarization takes less time, effort, and resources.

Opt for a modern and dedicated platform like PandaDoc Notary to notarize a document.

With the PandaDoc Notary platform, there is no need to depend on third parties to verify electronic documents or digital notary stamps. When you have access to the PandaDoc Notary platform, you can get in touch with an available notary agent in an instant.