Notary Bulletin

Hotline Tip: How Do I Notarize For A Prison Inmate?

I have been asked to notarize a marriage license, but the groom is currently incarcerated and can not appear before me. The clerk will not issue the license unless the bride is able to produce proper government identification with the groom’s picture, date of birth, and proper ID number. However, the groom has no driver’s license or passport. What can I do in this situation? – J.M . Lake Elsinore, CA

Notarizing a document for a prisoner can be a challenge. Typically, the prisoner’s ID is confiscated at the time of arrest. Therefore, it can be very difficult to identify the inmate. The only inmate ID card that is acceptable is the one that is issued by the Department of Corrections, but only for people who are in custody.

If your state allows it, the only option may be to use two credible identifying witnesses, or two people who personally know the inmate and who could vouch for his identity. However, some prison facilities will not allow credible witnesses to enter certain premises, including the same section the prisoner is. It may be a wise idea to contact the prison facility to see if there are any restrictions before you travel to the area.

To find out more about using credible witnesses, you can check out this Bulletin archive, or access the NNA’s recent webinar, “How to Use Credible Witnesses.”

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. — The Editors

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

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions.

(888) 876-0827

Monday through Friday:
5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Saturdays: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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