Valid forms of ID for notary, and what to do when there isn’t valid ID.
Identity is established if the notary public is presented with satisfactory evidence of the signer’s identity. -Civil Code section 1185(a)
Satisfactory Evidence – “Satisfactory Evidence” means the absence of any information, evidence, or other circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the individual is not the individual he or she claims to be and (A) identification documents or (B) the oath of a single credible witness or (C) the oaths of two credible witnesses under penalty of perjury.
– California Secretary of State Notary Handbook
Valid forms of Identification documents to provide a notary
A notary may identify individuals with the following documentation provided below.
- Drivers License (issued by the California DMV)
- California State-Issued ID (issued by the California DMV)
- US Passport
- Foreign Passport with US Visa
Other Identifications, also valid*:
*These IDs must include: (1) photograph (2) description, (3) signature, and (4) serial number.
- State-Issued ID or driver’s license from another state.
- A valid consular identification document/passport issued by a consulate from the applicant’s country of citizenship,
- A Mexican or Canadian Driver’s License.
- An employee identification card issued by an agency or office of the State of California, or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California.
- A United States military identification card (caution: current military identification cards might not contain all the required information)
- Federally recognized tribal government identification card Federally recognized tribal government.
Prison / Inmate Identifications:
- Any Inmate identification while in Sheriff’s Custody (if the inmate is in custody in a local detention facility)
- An inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (if the inmate is in custody in California state prison.)
Options for identifying if the signer doesn’t have an ID.
It is often common for signers to not have an active ID, or in some cases no ID at all. There are two options available when this happens. The first option is a single credible witness. This option serves to work If the signer and the notary both know a person mutually. The second option is two credible witnesses, this works if the signer can provide two people to identify them. The notary does not have to know the two people.
Single credible witness
If a signer is unable to produce an active valid form of ID, the next available option is a single credible witness. The signer may contact someone that personally knows both the signer and the notary. This ‘credible witness’ would appear at the time of the notarial act and identify the signer while also swearing or affirming (under oath) to personally know them. The notary will also record the valid form of ID document for the credible witness in their journal, collect their signature, and thumbprint.
1. The individual appearing before the notary public as the signer of the document is the person named in the document;
2. The credible witness personally knows the signer;
3. The credible witness reasonably believes that the circumstances of the signer are such that it would be very difficult or impossible for the signer to obtain another form of identification;
4. The signer does not possess any of the identification documents authorized by law to establish the signer’s identity; and general information.
5. The credible witness does not have a financial interest and is not named in the document signed
– California Secretary of State Notary Handbook (also Civil Code section 1185(b)(1) (A)(i)-(v))
Two credible witnesses
If a signer is unable to produce an active valid form of ID, and a signer doesn’t have any mutual relationships with the notary, the signer may contact two people that can vouch for their identity. The two people must know the signer personally. These ‘two credible witnesses’ would appear at the time of the notarial act and identify the signer while also swearing or affirming (under oath) to personally know them. The notary will record the valid forms of ID documents for both of the credible witness in their journal, collect their signatures, and thumbprints.
The identity of the signer can be established by the oaths of two credible witnesses whom the notary public does not personally know. (Civil Code section 1185(b)(2)) The notary public first must establish the identities of the two credible witnesses by the presentation of paper identification documents as listed above. Under oath, the credible witnesses must swear or affirm under penalty of perjury to each of the things sworn to or affirmed by a single credible witness, as set forth above. (Civil Code sections 1185(b)(2) and 1185(b)(1)(A)(i)-(v))