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Notary Quiz: Elements Of A Satisfactory ID

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.



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.


Add your comment

Melissa Presser

19 Sep 2016

Always good to be refreshed on ID's


19 Sep 2016


Donna C. Velasco

19 Sep 2016

thank you!

Sonia C Tross

19 Sep 2016

Great refresher on the elements of acceptable ID's

Lisa T

19 Sep 2016

It is good to be quizzed occasionally on these topics, thanks!

19 Sep 2016

Keep 'em coming! Need these quick fixes!

Elena Harcia La Bonte

19 Sep 2016

Thank you for the refresher course! Priceless!!

Robert W Bostic

20 Sep 2016

I am learning... Thank you!!

Cheryl S Ferguson

20 Sep 2016

Always good to refresh.

Sam Schrader

20 Sep 2016

All the quiz questions help keep me refreshed. I am a Notary, NSA and Immigration Consultant. Thanks.

Leah Linden

21 Sep 2016

This is very good to send out little quizzes. I do not notarize everyday or even very often so this was a great refresher!!


21 Sep 2016

Good information

Angelia Wolf

23 Sep 2016

I was pleased at how much I still remember after not doing this line of work for several years.

Yvonne N Pennell

28 Sep 2016

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I impressed myself and even gave me a pat on the back that I scored 100%. These quizzes are so helpful and keep them coming! :-)

Mary Rice

11 Oct 2016

These quizzes are such a great tool - keep them coming!!!

Harold L. Barnwell

15 Oct 2016

Good information. What is my status for my notary application; I haven't received as yet.?

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2016

Hello. If you applied through the NNA, our Customer Care team can help you if you contact them at 1-800-876-6827 or

veronica morales

20 Oct 2016

Thank you great

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