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Notary Bulletin

States Update Identity Rules As ID Formats Change

Recent changes to major federal-issued IDs — including passports and “Green Cards” — have prompted some states to review and update their rules laws regarding “satisfactory evidence of identity” for notarial acts.

The most notable changes have been prompted by the emergence of the new federal “Passport Card” — a wallet-sized identification card issued for travelers crossing U.S. borders with Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean at land and sea entry points. The Passport Card graphlimited  The Passport Card contains a photograph and limited information about the bearer.

While the passport lacks a physical description and signature — two staples of identification documents for notarizations in many states — officials in California and Oregon are permitting Notaries to accept these cards as satisfactory evidence of a signer’s identity.

In California, Civil Code Section 1185(b)(3)(B) permits Notaries to accept a U.S. Passport that is current or issued in the past five years. The Passport Card meets the standard of the statute because the law does not specifically require the U.S. Passport to contain a signature, photograph and physical description, as are required for certain other IDs presented to a Notary.

In Oregon, House Bill 2085, effective January 1, 2010, permits a Notary to accept a U.S. Passport as satisfactory evidence of identity. An amendment to Oregon Administrative Code Section 160-100-0700, also effective January 1, 2010, defines “Passport” to include the U.S. Passport Card.

Notaries in these states should familiarize themselves with the Passport Card’s appearance and information

The federal government also has changed the appearance of another longtime identification document, the Permanent Resident Card or “Green Card,” in an effort to thwart fakes. In May, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a redesign of the card with additional security features, and they are now all colored green to match their common nickname. Most states allow green cards to be used as satisfactory evidence, and the redesign does not affect those rules. However, California is an exception to this rule. It only allows the use of a green card for identification when notarizing USCIS forms.

Identification documents do not stay static, as they are updated and changed over time in order to keep a step ahead of producers of counterfeit IDs. If you have any questions about an identification document or which IDs are currently acceptable for signer identification in your state, members can NNA members can also call the Notary Hotline at (888) 876-0827 Monday through Friday 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time).

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