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How Do I Identify Homeless Signers Without ID?

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I work for a homeless shelter, and my signers often do not have the necessary documentation to obtain a state-issued driver’s license or ID card. What other types of ID can these signers present that would allow me to notarize for them?D.H., Aurora, Illinois

In Illinois, an ID used to identify a signer for a notarial act must be valid at the time of notarization; must be issued by a state or federal government agency, or consulate; and must contain the photograph and signature of the bearer (5 ILCS 312/6-102[d][3]).

Acceptable IDs include the following, provided they meet the criteria outlined above:

--- Illinois driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card

--- Driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card from another U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction

--- U.S. passport

--- U.S. military ID card

--- ID card issued by the USCIS

--- Matricula or other consular identification card

Another alternative would be to use credible identifying witnesses. Illinois law requires that a credible identifying witness be personally known to the Notary (5 ILCS 312/6-102[d]). In addition, the witness must personally know the person signing the document well enough to swear or affirm that the signer is who he or she claims to be. A reliable credible identifying witness should have a reputation for honesty. The witness should be a competent individual who will not be tricked, cajoled, bullied or otherwise influenced into identifying someone he or she does not really know. In addition, the witness should have no personal interest in the transaction.

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 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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Adrian Rose EA

30 Nov 2015

The ID samples are known elements. Homeless people don't have those items you mentioned. They are lucky to have a shirt. In other words if they don't have the items you say we can not notarize?

National Notary Association

30 Nov 2015

Hi Adrian. A Notary cannot proceed with a notarization if any signer-homeless or otherwise-cannot provide proof of identity that meets state requirements.

Diane Peters

08 Dec 2015

With a reliable witness.


03 Oct 2017

I need to get a state of. I have a valid drivers license in the system but had it stolen. My mother has all my documents such as my birth certificate and social security card and I we hav no contact with each other I need to start working again to get back on my feet bit don't have a permanent address and the proper identification , any suggestions on what I can and should do? Please, I could use just about anything right about now. Thank you..

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