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Notarizing For Minors: Special Considerations

Notaries should understand any special considerations their states allow when notarizing for minors.

Updated 9-17-18. While parents or guardians usually sign documents on behalf of their children, you may be asked to notarize a minor’s signature. If so, there are some extra considerations when this happens.

What if the minor has no valid form of identification, which is often the case? In addition, how do you evaluate a minor’s competence to sign the document?

While it’s unlikely that you will be asked to notarize a minor’s signature, Notaries have reported in social media discussions that various government agencies require forms related to a minor to include a notarized signature of the minor. So, it does happen.

Regardless of the circumstances, understanding how to proceed starts with determining if your state’s Notary laws or guidelines allow you to notarize a minor’s signature.

Can You Notarize A Minor’s Signature?
 

It depends on where you’re commissioned. Guam prohibits notarizing a minor's signature. Other jurisdictions, such as Nebraska, permit Notaries to refuse to notarize if the Notary has a reasonable belief a minor signer does not understand what they are signing.

In jurisdictions that allow you to notarize for minors, make sure you check for any limitations, restrictions or recommended procedures.

Illinois, for example, requires that the minor’s parent or guardian be present for the notarization. In fact, this is a good general rule for most signing situations involving minors.

Indiana requires minor signers present satisfactory ID and recommends that a minor signer write their age next to the signature on the document. Indiana also advises its Notaries to record the minor's age in the journal entry.

Oregon’s guidelines say Notaries should have minors put their age next to their signature so the receiving parties realize they are dealing with a minor. Notaries also should note the minor’s age in their Notary journal.

These recommendations, which often are found in Notary handbooks or posted on your commissioning official’s website, are designed to protect you, the signers and any other party relying on the document.

In states that do not provide specific guidelines for notarizing for minors, such as California, Florida or Texas, you would follow all the normal state rules for performing the type of notarization requested. The minor would need to present proof of identity following same identification requirements as an adult signer. 

How Do You Identify A Minor?
 

In some cases, identifying a minor can be as easy as looking at a current passport, or, if they are 16 or over, a valid driver’s license. However, many minors will not have an ID.

You may be able to use one or two credible identifying witnesses in lieu of an ID, provided your state allows you to use them. Montana, for example, allows credible witnesses to identify a minor, requiring the witnesses to take an oath or affirmation confirming that the minor is who he or she says they are. Generally, the witnesses should not be the minor’s parent or guardian.

Must You Determine A Minor’s Awareness And Willingness?
 

Identifying the minor is not the only issue. Many jurisdictions also require a Notary to determine that a signer — adult or minor — understands or consents to what they are signing, or allow the Notary to refuse the notarization if they do not. If you are in one of these jurisdictions, here are a few questions you might ask the minor signer:

  • What kind of document are you signing?
  • What will the document do?
  • Do you want to sign the document?

If you have any questions or are unsure how to handle a minor’s request, you can always contact the NNA Hotline.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

 

18 Comments

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James

19 Oct 2015

So in a state like New Jersey where credible witnesses must be mutually known between the Notary and signer, how do we identify the signer if no credible witness is available and if the minor has no ID?

National Notary Association

20 Oct 2015

Hello. If the minor signer had no ID or credible witnesses, but was personally known to the Notary, then the notarization could proceed. However, if the signer wasn't personally known, and had no appropriate ID or credible witness that meets state requirements, you would be unable to proceed with the notarization.

Jon W. Baker

19 Oct 2015

Never even crossed my mind about Notarizing an Instrument for a Minor. Good article, as it gives me one more bit of knowledge to draw upon should the incident occur. Thank you.

Regina

23 Oct 2015

This is a very excellent article. I have not had to notarize for a minor, but if it did happen; I definitely would have contacted the NNA Hotline for the answer. I will print this article and keep it with my records.

Michelle R.

26 Oct 2015

I looked through my state's guidelines (Iowa) for notarizing a minor's signature but either I overlooked it or there is no reference to it. If there is no reference to it, am I to understand that this type of notary act is not allowed? I've not yet come across this type of scenario but it would be nice to know for sure. Thanks!

National Notary Association

27 Oct 2015

Hello. Iowa does not prohibit Notaries from notarizing a minor's signature. In such a case, you would follow all the normal state rules for performing the type of notarial act requested. As a Notary, you have discretion under Iowa law ask for additional identifying information to that defined under “personal knowledge” and “satisfactory evidence”: “A notarial officer may require an individual to provide additional information or identification credentials necessary to assure the officer of the identity of the individual” (IC 9B.7).

Sue Mlynski

29 Oct 2015

With the schools no longer teaching cursive I am confused as to how a "printed" signature is acceptable from someone who is a minor and is not known to me. How is this going to affect notarizing when these minors become adults and you have nothing but block lettering as a signature? Just wondering for the future.

Miriam

17 May 2016

Hello, i am a minor, 17 years old, I need a document notarized for a prom Permission and Health Proxy form. Am I allowed to have it notarized myself or does my parent have to go with me?

National Notary Association

18 May 2016

Hello Miriam. We would suggest contacting the agency you are submitting the permission form to and asking them if your parent's presence is required. You will need to present proof of your identity in order to have your signature notarized.

Lawson vance

21 Feb 2017

My daughter was taken to right and sign a document against me without her guardian present how do I go about legal acton and what can be done I live in West virginia

Tamera

02 Apr 2017

If I'm 18 & don't have no id do I need one of my parents to be with me to get my birth certificate notarized?

National Notary Association

03 Apr 2017

Hello Tamera. In most cases, Notaries cannot notarize vital records such as birth certificates, because normally only the recording office that holds the original certificate may issue certified copies. If you need a certified copy of your birth certificate, you may want to contact the recording office where it was issued to request a certified copy.

Michael

21 Apr 2018

What about notarized documents for adoption. My child is 16 and I need to have her signature notarized so my wife can adopt her. Does she need to be present or can I notarize her signature since I’m her guardian

National Notary Association

23 Apr 2018

Hello. Because of the complexity of adoption documents, any questions regarding who must sign the documents should be directed to an attorney familiar with adoption law.

Sally

23 Jul 2018

In Arizona, notarizing a 16-year-old signature, and the minor only has their school identification, how is their signature notarized?

National Notary Association

24 Jul 2018

Hello. A minor signer in Arizona would have to present proof of identity using the same requirements as an adult signer. You could only accept the school identification if it was issued by the United States government or a state or tribal government and contains the minor's photograph, signature and physical description and that contains the individual’s height, weight, color of hair and color of eyes. However, other options for identifying the signer would be if the minor has an unexpired passport issued by the U.S. Department of State, or the oath or affirmation of a credible witness who personally knows the signer and can present ID that meets state requirements.

Kevin Shockley

27 Mar 2019

In Tennessee can a notary notarize a minors signature? The situation is the minor witnessed their grandmothers signature on her will and the court is asking for an affidavit verify the signature on the will.

National Notary Association

29 Mar 2019

Hello. Tennessee does not have specific rules regarding notarizing a minor's signature. A minor's signature would have to be notarized following the same steps as for an adult. The minor signer would have to personally appear before you, provide satisfactory evidence of identity and follow any other steps required by law for the requested notarization. Please see this article for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/10/notarizing-minors-special-considerations

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