Notaries verify the identity of document signers. But how thoroughly must you check an ID before you can be satisfied it’s acceptable? When state law doesn’t provide clear guidance, these suggested professional practices can help you meet reasonable standards of care.
1. Always ask to physically hold and examine the ID.
In order to ensure the ID is satisfactory, you will need to physically examine it. When a signer presents identification, ask that it be handed to you so you can look and touch any details and security features to confirm they are genuine. Don’t simply glance at a driver’s license or ID care in the window of a signer’s wallet, as this leaves you unable to check the ID card’s security features (see below).
2. Make sure the ID meets your state’s Notary law requirements.
While examining the ID, make sure that it includes all required information under your state’s laws. For example, California statute provides a specific list of ID types California Notaries may accept and requires any ID to be current or issued in the past five years. For most notarizations, Texas requires a signer’s ID to be issued by the U.S. federal government or a state government, and include a photo and signature. However, Texas Notaries may accept a current foreign passport as ID if the notarization involves a deed or other instrument related to a real estate transaction.
3. Familiarize yourself with security features on common IDs for your state.
It’s a good professional practice to know the security features on IDs commonly used in your state, and check to be sure they appear on the ID. Again, using California as an example, state driver’s licenses include features such as a raised printing of the signature and date of birth you can feel by running a finger over the surface of the card. Other security features may include holographic images, patterns or hidden details that only show up when held up to a light. An ID reference guide such as the NNA Keesing Documentchecker Guide can help familiarize you with what to look for when checking ID security features.