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Notary Bulletin

WWYD Answers: The Case Of The Soccer Moms Missing ID

Where-s-my-ID.jpgLast week we posed a scenario, The Case of the Soccer Mom’s Missing ID, about a Notary who was approached by a fellow soccer mom who lacked ID but needed a document notarized. The question is: Would you reject the notarization and risk losing your customers’ future business, or is there a way to perform the notarization that is within the law?

We received a lot of great answers from our Facebook Community. California Notaries like Charlene Vejr and Rebecca Woo noted that ‘personal knowledge’ is no longer an acceptable form of ID in the Golden State. “If I did not personally know the second soccer mom that walked in, I could only perform the notarization using two credible witnesses with proper IDs that personally know the signer,” weighed in Joy Greco-Yanez.

New York Notary Gloria Brown questioned whether knowing someone as a fellow “soccer mom” would qualify as “personally known.” Patricia Keatts listed the forms of ID acceptable in her state of Virginia, and Tennessee Notary Tim Gatewood mentioned the importance of noting the form of ID in your Notary journal.

Here’s what the NNA Hotline had to say: The answer, of course, will vary by state. But chances are you should be able to perform the notarization and keep your friend. Depending on your state, you can identify the signer using either personal knowledge or through the use of a credible witness(es).

Identify The Signer Using Personal Knowledge: In some states, Notaries are permitted to identify signers based on personal knowledge of the individual, though what is defined as “personal knowledge” varies between states. For example, Hawaii law defines personal knowledge as “having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual, which establishes the individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty” (HRS 456-1.6). Even if personal knowledge is allowed in your state as a means of identification, you should always rely on common sense in determining your knowledge of the signer's identity. A friend or colleague you have known over many years, for example, will hold more clout than an individual you’ve merely crossed paths with in more recent months. Only California prohibits Notaries from relying on personal knowledge to identify signers.

Identify the Signer Using A Credible Witness: If permitted by your state, you could perform this particular notarization by having the third-party individual serve as a credible witness on behalf of the signer. To do so, some states require you to personally know the credible witness, while others may allow or require her to present valid identification instead. Even if you know the witness, some states require them to present valid ID. In any case, you would have to administer an oath to the witness, who swears or affirms that the signer has the identity claimed. You could then proceed with the notarization. Depending on your state, you also may have the option of relying on one witness whom you personally know to two witnesses you don’t know as long as they have valid IDs.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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