A 26-year old signer who is not a U.S. citizen has asked me to notarize a document, but the only identification she has is her high school picture ID and her birth certificate issued from Trinidad. She is not currently employed, and she does not have a social security card. Is there any way I can perform the notarization? -D.R., Middletown, NY
Yes, you may perform the notarization if you can be satisfied that the signer is who she says she is. New York statute does not prescribe rules for the identification documents you may accept. In the absence of a statute, the NNA recommends that you accept reliable identification documents (ID cards) that contain three important components: a photograph, the signature and a physical description (e.g. height, weight, hair and eye color) of the bearer.
Identification documents that are not reliable for identifying acknowledgers include Social Security cards, credit cards, temporary driver’s license, driver’s license without a photograph, and birth certificates because they lack one or more of these three key components.
Using a credible identifying witness is another option. The identifying witness must be personally known to the Notary, and may not be identified by the Notary through ID cards.
More on this subject is covered in the NNA’s webinar, “How to Use a Credible Witness.”
If you are not comfortable with the ID presented you can refuse to do the notarization.
Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST