Understanding Key Forms of Identification for Notary Use

  • By NotaryCam

  • 1 November, 2023

Forms of identification (ID) are essential for notaries to verify the identities of signers. Notaries must be confident that the person signing a document is who they say they are in order to prevent fraud and protect the public.

There are a variety of forms of ID that notaries can accept. The specific types of ID that are acceptable vary from state to state, but most states require notaries to accept government-issued ID with a photo and signature. Some common examples of acceptable forms of ID for notary use include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • State ID card
  • Permanent resident card (green card)

In addition to government-issued ID, some states also allow notaries to accept other forms of ID, such as:

  • Student ID
  • Company ID
  • Tribal ID
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Credit card

When choosing a form of ID to present to a notary, it is essential to make sure that it is current and valid. Notaries may not accept expired ID or ID that has been altered or damaged.

It is also important to note that notaries have the right to refuse to notarize a document if they are not comfortable with the signer’s ID. If a notary refuses to notarize your document, you may be able to find another notary who is willing to do so.

In this article, we will discuss the critical forms of identification for notary use and provide tips for choosing the right form of ID to present to a notary.

Understanding the Role of a Notary Public

A notary public, an official appointed by the state government, serves as an impartial witness in performing various acts related to signing important documents. Notaries public, appointed by state governments, act as impartial witnesses in the signing of significant documents and help protect against deception.

The Critical Step in Document Signing

When it comes to getting a document signed and notarized, one critical step is verifying identities. This isn’t just about looking at faces—it’s more like being Sherlock Holmes for paperwork.

To validate someone’s identity during notarial services, the person must present acceptable identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. It might sound simple, but remember – every time you’re handling this task, you’re acting as gatekeepers against potential fraudulent activity. That’s pretty superhero-ish if you ask me.

In 2023 alone, over 4 million cases of identity theft were reported in America. With the stakes so high, we can understand why it’s essential for notaries to be vigilant when verifying identities during any document signing process (Key Stat:2).

  • Notarial service: A legal procedure performed by a licensed individual called a Notary Public.
  • Critical step: The act of confirming all parties’ identity before proceeding with document execution – crucial for deterring fraud.
  • Document signed: Legal or official documents that require the signature of involved parties, often witnessed by a Notary Public.

The role of notaries is like being both a superhero and Sherlock Holmes – protecting society from potential fraudulent activity while playing detective to ensure everyone’s who they say they are. So, let’s give them the appreciation they deserve.

Standard Forms of Identification for Notarization

When it comes to notarizing documents, one cannot stress enough the importance of proper identification. Without valid identification, a notary public will be unable to authenticate the individual and finish the process.

Driver’s licenses, green cards, and military IDs are widely accepted forms. They contain all necessary information such as photo, signature, physical description, and unique identifying number that makes them suitable for verification purposes.

Unaccepted Forms of Identification

You might wonder why certain items aren’t considered acceptable forms of identification. Take credit cards or social security cards; they do bear your name but lack some critical features required by most states.

  • Credit Cards: Although you use these daily, they don’t carry sufficient data about you (like a photo or signature) making them unsuitable for this purpose.
  • Social Security Cards: While crucial in many scenarios like employment verification or tax filing processes – Social Security cards miss out on elements like photographs which make them unfit here.

The key stats underline the fact with only 4% acceptance rate among notaries for social security card while credit card doesn’t even feature on their list.

Notary.net provides an excellent resource detailing what constitutes as ‘unacceptable’ versus ‘acceptable’. The gist is – anything state-issued (like driver’s license), federal government issued (such as passports), having both picture & signature qualifies.

The Role of Credible Witnesses in Notarization

When a signer lacks an acceptable form of identification for notarizing a document, credible witnesses step into the picture. They play a critical role in attesting to the identity of signers.

Who Can Be A Credible Witness?

A credible witness should be an impartial third party familiar with both the signer and the notary public. Often, this person is someone who knows the signer well but isn’t directly involved in their transaction.

Federal laws dictate that anyone acting as a credible witness must take an oath confirming they believe the signer’s claims about their identity are true. Learn more about federal laws regarding witnessing here.

Witness Requirements in Different States

The use and requirements for witnesses vary from state to state. Some states require one or two credible witnesses depending on whether or not these individuals personally know both parties involved ––the fifth key stat worth noting.

In California, if neither you nor your notary personally knows your witness, then you’ll need two such people present at signing time. Read more about it here.

“In some states like Florida, having just one trustworthy friend vouching for you might do.”

This highlights how diverse regulations can get across different jurisdictions when dealing with credibility issues.

All said and done, never underestimate what may seem like small parts playing significant roles. The world of notarization isn’t just about rubber stamps and signatures; it’s a vast universe where every element, including credible witnesses, holds its own importance.

Remote Online Notarization (RON) and Identification Standards

The rise of Remote Online Notarization, or RON as it’s often called, has shaken up the world of notary services. As a process that allows you to get documents notarized from anywhere with an internet connection, it has certainly made life easier for many.

But how does this affect identification standards? Well, just like traditional notaries need to verify your identity before they can put their seal on your document, so do online ones. Curiously, this is where matters become intriguing.

The Impact of Expired IDs on Notarization

Expired IDs are accepted for notarization in Texas and Florida, whereas New York and California disallow them. This discrepancy comes down to differences in state legislation which governs what forms of ID can be used during a remote online notarial act.

You might ask: “Why should I care about expired IDs?” The answer is simple – imagine you’ve moved out of state but still hold onto your old driver’s license because you haven’t had time to renew yet. Then suddenly, you need something urgently notarized. But wait. Your ID is technically expired according to your new state’s laws. This means you could be in a bind if that’s the only form of ID you have on hand.

What’s more, there are many forms of identification that can’t be used for notarization at all – things like credit cards, debit cards or social security cards won’t cut it. Although common and valid for other purposes, these unaccepted IDs don’t provide enough information to satisfy most states’ identity verification standards.

The good news is that while this might sound confusing at first glance, platforms like NotaryCam have got you covered.

Key Takeaway: 

Remote Online Notarization (RON) is reshaping the notary landscape, making it crucial to understand identification standards. State laws differ – some accept expired IDs while others don’t, impacting your ability to get documents notarized if you’ve recently moved. Remember, certain common forms like credit cards or social security cards aren’t accepted for notarization.

State-Specific Requirements for Notarization

The process of notarizing documents is crucial in many legal, business, and personal scenarios. Did you know the rules for notarizing documents can differ depending on where you are? That’s right. States like Texas, Florida, New York and California have their own distinct notarization needs.

Texas and Florida’s Notarization Requirements

In both Texas Texas Statutes Chapter 406 Section 011 and Florida Florida Statutes Title X Chapter 117 Section 05, acceptable forms of identification include a state-issued driver’s license or identification card (statistic: key stat #7), passport issued by the U.S Department of State (key stat #8), or a military identification card (key stat #9).

Credit cards are typically not accepted as primary ID due to their ease of replication while social security cards don’t provide enough details about physical appearance to be used solely.

However, one fun fact is that in some cases if an individual doesn’t have suitable ID but two unbiased individuals—who aren’t named within the document—can vouch for them with proper IDs themselves; they could get away without providing traditional identifications.

New York & California – The Tale Of Two Extremes?

New York and California are two of the most populous states in the United States, and they also have two of the most different sets of rules for notaries public. New York and California are two extremes when it comes to notary public rules. New York notaries have a lot of flexibility in deciding what types of identification they will accept, while California notaries are required to accept certain types of identification and no others.

This difference in rules is due to a number of factors, including the two states’ different legal systems and population densities. It is important to be aware of the different rules in each state when you need to get a document notarized.

New York

In New York, notaries are authorized to accept any form of identification that they believe is sufficient to establish the identity of the signer. This can include government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, but it can also include other forms of ID, such as a company ID or a student ID. Notaries in New York are also allowed to accept personal knowledge as a form of identification, meaning that they can notarize a document for someone they know personally.


In California, notaries are required to accept certain types of identification and no others. These types of identification include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • State ID card
  • Permanent resident card (green card)

Notaries in California are not allowed to accept personal knowledge as a form of identification, and they are not allowed to accept other forms of ID, such as company IDs or student IDs.

Why the Difference?

There are a few reasons why New York and California have such different rules for notaries public. One reason is that New York has a long history of common law, which is a system of law that is based on precedent. Under common law, judges have the discretion to interpret the law and make decisions based on their own judgment. This means that New York notaries have a lot of flexibility in deciding what types of identification they will accept.

California, on the other hand, has a civil law system, which is a system of law that is based on a code of laws. Under civil law, judges have less discretion in interpreting the law, and they are required to follow the code of laws closely. This means that California notaries have less flexibility in deciding what types of identification they will accept.

Another reason for the difference in rules is that New York is a more densely populated state than California. This means that there are more notaries in New York, and they are more likely to know the people who come to them for notarizations. This makes it less necessary for New York notaries to require specific types of identification.

In contrast, California is a more spread-out state, and there are fewer notaries in rural areas. This makes it more difficult for people in rural California to get their documents notarized, and it also makes it more difficult for notaries to verify the identities of signers. This is why California notaries are required to accept certain types of identification and no others.



Understanding the right forms of identification for notary services can make your journey smoother. It’s crucial to know that driver’s licenses, state-issued IDs, military identification cards, and resident alien identification cards are commonly accepted.

Remember though, some items like credit or debit cards and social security cards aren’t typically approved. This is because they don’t meet stringent requirements for proof of identity.

If you lack an ID, credible witnesses might be able to vouch for you. But remember – rules vary from state to state!

In the evolving world of Remote Online Notarization (RON), standards continue changing too. Always stay updated with your local laws on expired IDs and specific state regulations!


Frequently Asked Questions About the Forms of ID for Notary

What is the best form of identification for a notary?

The most reliable form of identification for a notary would be government-issued photo IDs, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID. These documents are considered the best because they contain essential information, including the bearer’s photograph, signature, and physical description. Additionally, these forms of identification are challenging to forge due to their embedded security features.

What is satisfactory evidence of identity for a notary?

Satisfactory evidence of identity for a notary typically involves presenting one or more valid, government-issued identification documents. These may include passports, driver’s licenses, state ID cards, and military IDs. The critical requirement is that the document must have a photograph of the person and their signature. Some states also accept credible witnesses who personally know the individual to vouch for their identity in the absence of proper identification.