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Hotline Tip: How Do I Notarize For A Prison Inmate?

NNA Hotline Tips For NotariesI have been asked to notarize a marriage license, but the groom is currently incarcerated and can not appear before me. The clerk will not issue the license unless the bride is able to produce proper government identification with the groom’s picture, date of birth, and proper ID number. However, the groom has no driver’s license or passport. What can I do in this situation? – J.M . Lake Elsinore, CA

Notarizing a document for a prisoner can be a challenge. Typically, the prisoner’s ID is confiscated at the time of arrest. Therefore, it can be very difficult to identify the inmate. The only inmate ID card that is acceptable is the one that is issued by the Department of Corrections, but only for people who are in custody.

If your state allows it, the only option may be to use two credible identifying witnesses, or two people who personally know the inmate and who could vouch for his identity. However, some prison facilities will not allow credible witnesses to enter certain premises, including the same section the prisoner is. It may be a wise idea to contact the prison facility to see if there are any restrictions before you travel to the area.

To find out more about using credible witnesses, you can check out this Bulletin archive, or access the NNA’s recent webinar, “How to Use Credible Witnesses.”

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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20 Jun 2016

Hi, my husband is in prison and I am currently trying to cash our tax refund check that was sent to me but his name is on it. I need power of attorney to cash the check. Are there regular notaries that go to the prison?

National Notary Association

21 Jun 2016

Hello. Yes, some Notaries provide services to prisoners in correctional facilities. You may need to search for Notaries in your area or in the vicinity of the correctional facility in order to find one that provides these services.

Deanna Santistevan

16 Oct 2016

My boyfriend is in Buena Vista prison with trying to get our marriage papers notarized or figure out how we do this to get married they said just because we live together two years common law is not legal

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2016

Hello. We're sorry but questions regarding how to file documents to marry a prison inmate would be legal questions that we are not authorized to answer, not notarization questions. You would need to speak to an attorney or other qualified legal adviser for assistance on how you can apply for a marriage license.

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