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What Would You Do: A signer with no hands


The NNA Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging signing situations. To help boost your knowledge of Notary Best Practices, we have created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask you to weigh in on what you would do if faced with a similar situation.

As public officials, Notaries are sensitive to the needs of handicapped and disabled persons, but this real-life situation presented a challenge.

Imagine it’s a busy day at work when a man walks in needing a jurat for an affidavit. The man needs to sign the document in front of you, but there’s one problem: He has no hands.

He has valid ID, and there is no problem in any other respect. He just can’t sign the affidavit in a conventional manner.

“What if I left a toe-print as my signature?” he asks. He also offers to leave a bite mark as his signature by mark.

What would you do?

Do you accept either of these options? Do you suggest he consult an attorney? Or do you send him away without any solution?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do” scenario, share your answer with the NNA Facebook Community or in the comments section below. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this unusual notarial challenge.

View All: Best Practices


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Paul McCool

29 Jan 2015

I would rather ask him to make a mark as best he could by holding a pen in his mouth than use a bite mark. (I carry a blue felt tip pen in my notary case for folks with physical issues,) I WOULD use his toe print in lieu of a thumbprint, though.

Jerry Lucas

01 Feb 2015

Follow your state laws. Colorado notary law CRS 12-55-110.5, Accommodation of Physical Limitations, describes the procedure, commonly known as signature by proxy. If the individual is unable to sign or make a mark, the individual may direct someone in their presence, other than the notary, to sign for the individual. Specific disclosure wording must also be included with the signature. A thumbprint in the notary journal is not required by Colorado law, but is a recommended practice by the SOS. A toe print is not needed. In ancient times, tooth marks were sometimes used on documents. Colorado law does not define "making a mark". Some states may allow a signature stamp. In Colonial times, many people could not write. They made an X and attached their personal seal with wax or ink. The expression "signed and sealed" refers to the use of a personal seal, now replaced by the word seal in brackets [Seal]. Colorado also allows the name to be attached electronically to an electronic record. If the individual is not able to communicate verbally or in writing, signals or electronic or mechanical means may be used.

Sharon Acles

01 Feb 2015

I would ask if he could sign holding the pen in his mouth and his toe print can be used as his mark. I agree with Mr. McCool.

LaQuita Gaskins

02 Feb 2015

I will have him to sign with pen between his toes or pin to mouth. I am witnessing that it is his mark. We still have people who sign with X as there signature.

Nancy Waskosky

02 Feb 2015

I would ask the man with no hands to make his mark by holding a pen in his mouth or if he had the ability to hold the pen between his toes to sign. I would also ask for two witnesses to be present to witness the signing and document the situation in my notary journal along with asking the man with no arms and the two witnesses to sign my notary journal.


02 Feb 2015


Dee Johnson

02 Feb 2015

I would allow him to sign with his teeth and a pen. I have seen this done, and I wouldn't put him through any other problems. However, I would be sure to have a witness or two to his signature.

jay still

02 Feb 2015

I have encountered many strange situations as a notary. I would ask him how he would normally make his mark on any other document then call the company for whom I was notarizing the documents and tell them how the signatore intended to make his mark to see if it is acceptable to them. I once had a quadriplegic that I had to notarize for. He could move his arm two to three inches above the table and had a stamp with his signature on it. I would position the documents under where his stamp would fall and allow him to stamp the docs. I checked with the title company for whom I was notarizing the documents. Their only comment was that on certain documents they also wanted the signature of two witnesses who witnessed him stamp the documents and they wanted a letter from me explaining what happened so that they could attach them to the documents. Every case is workable somehow, it's just a matter of insuring how a person intends to sign is acceptable to the entity to whom the documents will go.

Richard M. Nichols

02 Feb 2015

In my state (GA) the notary will need another witness as the armless signer touches the pin in the presence of the notary and the witness. The notary puts a ( ) around the dote and puts the words "his mark" there . The witness signs the document saying that she observed the signer touched the pin.The same process would have to take place if there several documents to be signed.


02 Feb 2015

I would ask him to make a mark either using a pen in his mouth or with his foot, whichever is most comfortable for him. I would also use the toe print in lieu of the thumbprint as well.

Virginia Wells

02 Feb 2015

I would agree with Paul. I would ask him to at least mark an X by holding the pen in his mouth at least. And I think taking a copy of his ID would suffice along with the X for his signature. Also, maybe have a credible witness along side him.

William Wallace

02 Feb 2015

Great answer Paul!! I may ask if he was more comfortable using his toes or arms to clamp the pen and make a mark. Never thought about the felt tip ..going to get one today. Thanks


02 Feb 2015

I would use this toe print. It seems to me it would be just like taking his finger print but instead its his toe print.

Debra Kelley

02 Feb 2015

I would say he'd need to find someone who could sign with a POA for him. Refer him to an attorney.

Leslie L.

02 Feb 2015

I would have him do a signature by mark and use two witnesses. I would document the notary journal that he had no hands.

Betty Swammy

02 Feb 2015

First, I would consult with my State Notary Public Commission office for guidance on this matters. In this instance it would the Washington, DC. As this person would be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, I would not turn him away, but offer some kind of assistance. I would also consult with the DC Notaries Rules and Regulations for legal guidance. I would obtain from him a government issued photo ID, ie, non-driver's ID, US passport. I would provide detailed notes in my Notary Journal regarding the extenuating circumstances re the notarization. I would also have a witness to the notarization as to his protected class disability. But, I would perform the notary, as long as it is legal to do so.


02 Feb 2015

Have him hold the pen in his teeth and sign with an X

Richard Wilson

02 Feb 2015

I would ask how he his signed other docs, including the signature that is on his license and then proceed from there. Many times disabled people have learned to complete tasks I ways that we would never have thought of.

Carol A Clow

02 Feb 2015

Sometimes, people with this kind of limitation, have learned to accommodate using their feet as their hands. First I would ask if that is a possibility. If not, then I would have the person make a mark, by putting a pen or fine tip felt pen, in their mouth. Then I would use their right toe as their print in my journal and finally, I would notate the circumstance in my journal.

Samar malouf

02 Feb 2015

My answer is that he can bring good a credible witness and sign on his behalf with a recording video stating everything what is going on during signing the documents. This will be the only proof that he was present and that he is giving the permission for the credible witness to sign on his behalf.

Sandy Estredge

02 Feb 2015

I would ask the signer to make an "X" or mark of some kind by holding a pen in his mouth, or if he had forearms that he could use to hold a pen.

John Buckley

02 Feb 2015

I would ask that person if he or she have someone whom they have with power or attorney over them or a legal appointed person to sign the document for them

Gwen Shepphard

02 Feb 2015

In addition I would simply specify in journal of this matter. An "X" designation is always appropriate even if he wrote with his mouth, which is definitely noted in journal.

Doris Duran

02 Feb 2015

I would ask him/her to make an "X" mark by holding pen in his/her mouth. I would use the same procedure with someone who is illiterate.Have his/her "X" witnesses by someone else.

02 Feb 2015

In Hawaii, I would have two options. One option would signature by mark where the signer could make a mark with a pen in his mouth and that would have to be witnessed by two people. The second alternative is the Hawaii provision for a notary to sign for the disabled signer, with that signer's verbal authorization. This second method, however, would require an original note from a primary physician of the signer indicated the signer is unable to physically sign but that the signer is capable of communicating his wishes. Hawaii does not require fingerprints for notarization. If we did, I would use the suggested toe print instead.


02 Feb 2015

Doesn't his driver's license have a "signature" line? If so, how did he do that?

Jan Myers

02 Feb 2015

I would ask the party to sign in the normal way that he facilitates this action on any form that requires a signature. Logically I would think this party has prosthetic limbs or such, as they are functioning in public, and must open doors etc. Probably not really an issue.

Veronica Lake

02 Feb 2015

I think signature by mark would be best, With the two requires witnesses.

Gary Travis

02 Feb 2015

If he has no hands he probably uses his feet for a lot of things. He could sign his name or an X with his foot, take a toe print and use a credible witness as well.

Darla Taylor

02 Feb 2015

I have done a number of "signature by x" signings with two witnesses. Some people have had a stroke and one had polio. Once I was called to the ICU of a hospital to do a signature by eye blink where I asked the newly paralyzed man who also could not speak questions to verify his competency. He blinked once for no and twice for yes. Then I signed on the line for him and had two witnesses. The sign by blinking was done with an attorney on the line. This was for a power of attorney giving his relatives permission to care for him and his financial affairs.


02 Feb 2015

I would have her/him use a pen in her/his mouth and marking with an X - also have a credible witness - but I am sure this person is presented with these issues every day and that the X is the signature - a credblel witness also. if still not sure I would call CA Notary Assoc help line.


02 Feb 2015

Some individuals who have been disabled for some time, have usually found their way (signing w/their foot, signature by mark, etc.). I would imagine you start there and follow through with any state provisions. Someone newly disabled may actually look to you for direction, but should of course receive guidance from legal counsel.

Rose Adamietz

02 Feb 2015

I would ask if he can sign with his feet. (I have seen people with no hands do that.) If not, I would accept his toe print (with a copy of the toe print and valid id in my register)

Shelly Schwartz

02 Feb 2015

I would accept a right toe print.

Kim Hogan

02 Feb 2015

I am interested to see why the blue felt tip. Can you elaborate Paul?

Michael Gilman

02 Feb 2015

I would not send him away.. I would reach out to the person wanting the form signed and ask what would be acceptable to them.

Vivian Luka

02 Feb 2015

I would ask if i could take his picture and scan it onto the document.

Darryl Waller

02 Feb 2015

It is stated that he presented a valid state ID. I believe that it would have to have some sort of signature or mark. Just follow that states lead in this case. If need be contact the appropriate party and ask what would be acceptable.

LaDonna Hickernell

02 Feb 2015

He stated he could leave a bite mark. I would ask if he could make an "X" by putting a pen in his mouth. I would also allow the left toe stamp.

Justin Jales

02 Feb 2015

how about a poa from his spouse or relative allowing them to sign on his behalf. with an affidavit of acknowledgement.

Jamie Smith Liggins

02 Feb 2015

I would do my best to accommodate the signer. Sometimes they are able to sign by putting a pen in their mouth (saw this as real life experience). A toeprint might be good as well along with a verbal oath. OR as mentioned if he/she is able to sign using their toe to guide the pen that is fine as well.

Shirley I. Johnson

02 Feb 2015

The signer has valid ID. Whatever method he used to validate his ID may be acceptable to notarized his document.

Barbara guidry

02 Feb 2015

I would ask him how does he usually sign. I would then proceed accordingly.

Earther D.Chapman-Quinones

02 Feb 2015

I would execute a signature by mark witnessed and record the signer request.


02 Feb 2015

I will agree with Paul. There are many ways to make a document valid. I will have him sign with a pen in his mouth and take a toe print in liu of thumbprint. I can always ask for two physical witnesses if necessary.


02 Feb 2015


Linda Swain

03 Feb 2015

could he X mark the signature with a mouth held pen or pencil

mary Carlisle Henry

03 Feb 2015

Some individuals that have a disability are able to use other options like write with their toes or write with their mouth.

Sharon Balocki

03 Feb 2015

I would treat him like anyone who could not write their name. In my state, we need two witnesses to verify that the mark made as a signature was done by him and no one else no matter how he was able to make it.


03 Feb 2015

Some states allow for a signature by proxy, where a designated person can sign for them, this is not a POA, check with an attorney for details. In CA, I have had these kinds of signings and they usually have a way to make a mark with a pen other than their hands.


04 Feb 2015

Ask him to make a mark by holding a pen in his mouth and two witnesses


04 Feb 2015

I would sign his name for him, with a witness and have an imprint from him.


04 Feb 2015

Obviously you would need a photo ID. Inquire how customer usually handled documents that require his/her signature and use that method.

04 Feb 2015

Since he has ID and can verbally speak with me I would consider accepting a signature by him using his mouth or foot, either with an 'X' or a full signature. I would then note in my journal the method signed and his lack of thumbprint and why. I would accept a toe print, but I would not accept a teeth impression. If he can put an 'X' or sign the document, he could do the same in the journal. Or, I may consider using a credible witness.

Paula DiFulvio

09 Feb 2015

i would ask if he would be able to hold a pen in his mouth and make an X, and proceed from there.

Rebecca G

10 Feb 2015

As the person has to have a legal signature. In Florida I remember 1 client who had applied and had been issued a rubber stamp before their illness rendered them totally incapacitated. They still had to have a POA or certified witness with them when they signed any legal papers. I grew up in KY. where there was a lawyer born without hands but he was still able to use arms to hold pen for signatures. Or course this was before computers and the rampart identity scams of today.

Darrell Guynes

10 Feb 2015

I believe that if an adult comes in with the document that they would already have an idea of how they would sign. If after asking how they would like to sign, then we would make arrangements for that. Either he can sign in some manner or if he had to sign by MARK, then I would let them make that decision and then follow my states guideline. I had a situation recently where I greeted a couple in a bank branch to do their loan signing. I always extend out my hand to shake their hand and greet them. In this instance, the wife had the arms of her sweater tucked into the sweater pockets. I then realized that she did not have any arms. I did not ask any questions about how she would sign as I assumed she knew that she needed to sign documents (quite a few in the case of a mortgage loan refinance) and had a way to make this occur. I was a little surprised and amazed and the fact that she took the pen into her toes, was able to reach up to the desk and proceed to sign every document with a legible signature.

Sonja Wright

10 Feb 2015

I would consider using a credible witness, if it's allowed in your state.

Gary Travis

27 Feb 2015

If he has no hands he probably uses his feet for a lot of things. He could sign his name or an X with his foot, take a toe print and use a credible witness as well.

Theresa Dion

19 Mar 2015

I would ask the person if they have a another suggestion as to how they could make an X mark on the document and my journal or if they had a way of handling a pen. Also, if they can do a toe print, they could probably use their toes to make an X mark as well. Either would work for me. The caveat is explaining any 'out of the ordinary' signature mark clearly in your journal.


23 Mar 2015

I would first ask how has he been signing. A toe print is good. Marking with an X is to my understanding if you are illiterate. A toe print is a biometric signature.

Tim Gatewood

03 Jun 2015

In Tennessee, this question has been answered by Attorney General's Opinion 10-89, which you can read in pdf form at this link: Or, if you prefer, you can look it up on this page: . Mr. Lucas is correct -- always check with your state authority first. They may already have a procedure in place. For those saying use a toeprint: this is only useful if there is a database of toeprints somewhere to compare it to or if the same person were to be called into court and ordered to have his toe printed. While it may be biometric, unless the toeprint appears on his ID, how do you use it to confirm that he is who he says he is, as you can do with a signature?

Phyllis Dudoit

26 Sep 2016

Like Michigan, Hawaii has a statute that allows a notary to sign on behalf of a disabled signer. I would sign the person's name and below his or her signature, I would write "Signature affixed by Notary Public pursuant to HRS Section 456-19"

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