Notary Bulletin

Hotline Tip: Is A Social Security Card Considered A Valid ID For Notarization?

A signer asked me to notarize a document upon which his name is displayed slightly differently than the name on his driver’s license. I understand from my Notary training that in the case of a name discrepancy I should ask for another form of ID, but what — besides a valid driver’s license — is considered an acceptable form of ID? Would a Social Security card work? - S.S., San Luis Obispo, CA

First off, a Social Security card is never considered an acceptable form of ID, since it doesn’t contain a photo, signature or physical description, and is not listed among the forms of ID California law says Notaries can accept.There are, however, several forms of ID that are considered acceptable for a notarization in California (and most states; but Notaries should consult their own state laws to confirm). California Notaries may only accept the following types of identification documents (Civil Code Section 1185):

1. California driver’s license or nondriver’s ID issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles

2. U.S. passport book or card. (A physical description is not required, and the passport card is acceptable even though it does not contain the bearer’s signature.)

3. The following IDs, provided they are current or issued in the past five years and contain a signature, photograph and physical description:

  • Foreign passport stamped by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Driver’s license or nondriver’s ID issued by another U.S. state
  • Driver’s license issued by Mexico or Canada
  • Employee ID card issued by an agency or office of the State of California or any city, county or city and county within the state
  • U.S. military ID that contains all required elements. (The Common Access Card [CAC] — a replacement ID for certain military personnel — does not contain the signature of the bearer on either the front or back of the card. Therefore, under current law, California Notaries may not accept the CAC as identification for notarizations.)
  • Inmate ID issued by the California Department of Corrections. (Inmate ID cards may only be used to identify prisoners who are in custody.)
  • ID cards issued by the USCIS. (USCIS IDs may only be used to identify signers for notarizations on USCIS forms.) (Government Code, Section 8230)

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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