Issues with identification documents are common. What if the ID has expired? Or what if the signer presents a foreign ID? Test your knowledge of what elements are needed for a satisfactory ID and which aren’t acceptable. Full answers are below. ANSWERS: 1. A photocopy of an identification document: A. May be accepted as proof of identity if physically signed by the bearer B. Can only be accepted if another Notary affixes a seal to the ID C. Should never be accepted as identification for a notarization D. Is always acceptable as proof of a signer’s identity Answer: C. A photocopy of an ID such as a driver’s license should never be accepted as satisfactory evidence of a signer’s identity. Without the original ID in hand, the Notary has no way of knowing if a photocopied image shows a real ID or one that has been altered. 2. An expired identification: A. Is acceptable proof of signer identity in every state B. Is unacceptable as proof of signer identity in any state C. May be used to identify a signer in some states, with restrictions D. May be used to identify a signer in any state, but only if originally issued by a federal agency Answer: C. Some states permit their Notaries to accept an expired ID from a signer as proof of identity. However, there are usually special restrictions for accepting expired identification documents. For example, in California and Florida, an expired ID may only be accepted by a Notary if it was issued within the past five years. Other states, such as Texas, do not allow Notaries to accept expired IDs. 3. If state law does not specify requirements for acceptable signer ID, the NNA recommends asking for signer ID that includes the following elements: A. Phone Number, Address and Social Security number B. Photograph, Description and Signature C. Address, Issuance Date and Serial number D. Photograph, Expiration Date and Phone Answer: B. If state law does not specify what type of ID may be presented for a notarization, the NNA recommends asking signers to provide an identification document that includes a photograph, description of the signer and signature. Each of these elements can be used to verify the person appearing before the Notary is who they claim to be. The photograph and description enable the Notary to verify that the person physically appearing matches the individual described on the ID, while the signature can be used to check for discrepancies when the person signs the document being notarized. 4. True or False. A birth certificate is considered a satisfactory form of signer ID for a notarization. Answer: False. Not only does a birth certificate lack a photograph, description or signature of the signer, but copies of another person’s birth certificate can be obtained through recording offices, which makes birth certificates extremely unreliable as a means to verify a signer’s identity. 5. True or False: If a signer lacks a satisfactory ID document, they can be identified by one or more credible witnesses instead. Answer: True. A credible witness is essentially a “human ID card” who swears or affirms the signer’s identity so that a notarization can take place. The ideal credible witness should not have any interest or benefit in the document being notarized. State laws regarding credible witness requirements vary; some allow only one and others allow two. Always be sure to follow your own jurisdiction’s statutes when using one or more credible witnesses to identify a signer. David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.