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5 steps for Notaries checking IDs

Updated 5-28-24. A Notary’s duties include identifying a signer — but how should Notaries check a signer’s ID for clues if it is genuine or not? Ask the signer to hand you their identification and then follow these 5 simple steps to check their ID properly:

5 steps for Notaries checking IDs 

There are 5 simple steps to follow when checking any ID every time you perform a notarization. First, ask the signer to hand you the ID so you can inspect it.

  1. Look at the photo on the ID and then look at the signer. Then do it again. Make sure the image and physical description reasonably match the signer.
  2. Check the expiration date.
  3. Ensure all informational elements on the ID are present — both front and back.
  4. Use the blue light and magnifying glass to check the ID’s security features.
  5. Have the individual sign your journal so that you can compare the signature in the journal with the one on the ID. Like the photograph and physical description, check the signatures to see if they are reasonably similar.

All these steps should take less than a minute. The time will be well spent. Most signers will appreciate your efforts to protect them and their transactions from forgery. You will also go a long way toward protecting yourself against claims.

Know your state’s identification cards and rules

To become effective at verifying a person’s ID, we recommend getting to know your state’s IDs and U.S. passports because these are the IDs you’ll encounter most often. Become familiar with their security features: micro-printing, “ghost” photos, holograms, swipe stripes, barcodes and raised lettering (such as the raised date of birth found on Texas driver’s license photos). Learn the informational elements of your common state IDs, such as name, address, issue and expiration dates, on both the front and back of the ID and know where they are placed.

Also, be sure to check for changes to your state’s ID rules on a regular basis. In 2017, Florida added a veterans health ID card to the list of identification documents Florida Notaries may accept from a signer.

California accepts consular and tribal IDs that are current or issued within the past 5 years, have a serial or identification number, and contain the signature, photograph and description of the individual to its list of acceptable IDs.

Since 2018, Arizona Notaries can accept as proof of a signer’s identity a nonoperating ID license and an inmate identification card issued by the Arizona Department of Corrections if the inmate is in the custody of ADC. Arizona Notaries may also now accept any form of inmate ID issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons if the inmate is in federal custody.

In addition, Arizona Notaries may accept a form of an unexpired government ID issued by the U.S., a state or a tribal government to an individual that contains the signature or a photograph and physical description of the individual and that is satisfactory to the Notary.

Handy Resources

small ultraviolet light or blue light and magnifying glass can be a helpful tool. The blue light will show hidden ID security features like holograms and ghost photos. The magnifying glass will help you spot micro-printing on the ID. Use these tools in front of the signer to show you’re serious about what you’re doing.

Bill Anderson is Vice President of Government Affairs with the National Notary Association

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Related Articles:

Notary guidelines for accepting or rejecting a signer’s ID

A Notary’s guide to spotting fake IDs

Is an expired ID acceptable for a notarization?

Additional Resources:

NNA Hotline

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Hartley Saunders II

23 May 2016

Is it a UV light or just blue light that needed to check ids. Does the NNA plan to offer any in their store?

National Notary Association

24 May 2016

Hello. A UV light can be used. We do offer a UV penlight for sale:


27 May 2016

Great article!!! Will the UV Pens be available at the NNA Store at Conference?

National Notary Association

03 Jun 2016

Hello. Yes, they should be available at Conference.

Norma Olmos

16 Apr 2018

Does the state of Texas accept mexican consular if.

National Notary Association

17 Apr 2018

Hello. No, Texas law requires that a signer's ID be current, issued by the U.S. federal government or a U.S. state, and include the signer's photo and signature. (CPRC 121.005[a])

ProphetLeslie Boucher

30 Jun 2018

have been doing these for years and I agree I have also been in the US air force for some time

Leslie Boucher

30 Jun 2018

all is ok I have bin doing these for years


22 Apr 2019

Can you please explain to me how you are pushing for Remote Signings yet you are suggesting using a blue light and magnifying glass on an ID. Seems to be a little hard to do if you are not PYHSICALLY in the same room.

Maria Luna

22 Apr 2019

Good morning. Does California accept a Mexican matr�cula c�nsular as a form of ID? Thank you.

National Notary Association

22 Apr 2019

Hello. No, Mexican matricula consular cards do not meet the requirements for satisfactory proof of identity under California's Notary laws because they lack a physical description of the bearer. For more information, please see here:


22 Apr 2019

Also, for CA driver license ID, if you don't have a blue light, look at the ID through a bright light (light fixture or out a sunlit window). On the right side of the front of the license, there is an outline of a bear made up of microdots. On the newer IDs, there is a bear and an outline of the state of CA.

Christopher C. Greene

23 Apr 2019

This is a fantastic training and education!!

Lisa Joseph

13 May 2019

Very Informative


22 Jul 2019

Instead of ordering the NNA Keesing Documentchecker Guide for $21.50, which I think is expensive, how or where can I check in the State of Missouri for acceptable IDs?

Teresa Gyure

29 Jun 2020

You should really start getting the word out that door or curb signings, viewing an ID through a window, is not good practice. Companies are still telling the signers that its ok.

Mar9is Elena

16 Jul 2020

Este año han pasado cosas inauditas desde el mes de Junio 2020 y lo recibieron pues yo revisé y aún todaví he recibido ni el Stamp ni la Certifijación y cada vez que llamo para preguntar no hay respuesta

National Notary Association

17 Jul 2020

Hola. Gracias por comunicarse con nosotros.Algunos estados están experimentando demoras para procesar comisiones debido al COVID19. Porque no pudo comunicarse por teléfono, envíenos un correo electrónico a para ayudarlo.

Jayarama H U

26 Jul 2021

So best marketing

rick wessell

06 Jun 2022

On a California Drivers License the signature and DOB are raised, rub your thumb over them.

Robert Pryor

06 Jun 2022

Re: raised lettering of date of birth on a California driver license or identification card. Which d.o.b.s are we talking about? The d.o.b. Is listed five (5) times on those cards.

National Notary Association

07 Jun 2022

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Cecilia Anita Sosa

01 May 2023

Can a notary in Texas accept a Mexico Passport to notarize?

National Notary Association

01 May 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Yolanda Phillips

28 May 2023

The information in the comments is most helpful. Thank you. Any suggestions on effective mass marketing?

National Notary Association

30 May 2023

Hello. You can find more articles on marketing tips for Notaries here:

Vrana Anderson

10 Jun 2024

This information is very informative.

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