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A guide to notarizing for prison inmates

In a prison visitation room, a notary public having a conversation with an inmate.

Updated 9-12-23. There are strict guidelines for Notaries to follow when entering a correctional facility to meet with a signer. Knowledge and preparation beforehand will save you time and avoid delays.

Be sure to ask if the signer has acceptable ID

One very important thing to be aware of is that inmates at correctional facilities typically have to surrender all their normal forms of identification — such as driver’s licenses — when they are incarcerated. This can be a problem if you show up for the notarization and the signer can’t produce satisfactory evidence of identity — and prison officials don’t always permit alternatives such as using credible identifying witnesses.

If you’re asked to notarize for a signer at a correctional facility, be sure to ask prior to the notarization if the signer will be allowed to use an acceptable form of identification. Signers in custody at a correctional facility or jail may not have access to common forms of ID such as a driver's license. 

Arizona permits Notaries to accept an inmate identification card issued by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) as proof of identity for signers in ADC custody, any form of inmate ID issued by a county sheriff if the signer is in the sheriff's custody or an inmate identification card issued by the federal Bureau of Prisons for a prisoner in federal custody. California allows Notaries to accept an inmate identification card issued by the state Department of Correction and Rehabilitation for inmates in custody at a prison or an inmate identification issued by a sheriff’s department for an inmate in custody at a local detention facility. Florida permits Notaries to accept an inmate ID card issued by the U.S. Department of Justice or Bureau of Federal Prisons for an inmate in federal custody or an inmate identification card issued after January 1, 1991, by the Florida Department of Corrections for an inmate in the custody of that department. Florida also allows Notaries to accept a sworn, written statement from a law enforcement officer as proof the inmate named in the document is the person whose signature is to be notarized.

If the signer won’t have access to a driver’s license or other acceptable forms of identification, check in advance if the facility will allow the use of credible identifying witnesses or another acceptable method of identification — not every facility allows the use of guards or staff as credible witnesses when an inmate needs a signature notarized. Also remember that some states, such as Texas, may require a credible witness to either be personally known to the Notary or to provide proof of identity if the credible witness is not personally known to the Notary. 

Be prepared for additional security measures when meeting with the signer

A prison or jail may restrict the items you can bring with you before meeting with the signer. For example, bags or purses may not be permitted when you meet with the signer, or the facility may inspect and approve your seal and journal before the notarization. Again, it’s a good idea to contact the facility prior to the notarization and ask about restrictions on items you can bring with you, dress code and behavior rules for visitors, and any other special rules and restrictions you will need to follow during the notarization.

Interaction with the signer may be restricted

When notarizing at a jail or correctional facility, be aware that your access to and interaction with the signer may be limited. In states that require you to complete a journal entry, such as California, this can make obtaining the inmate's signature or thumbprint more challenging. For example, you may have a sheet of Plexiglas or another barrier between you. You might not be allowed to hand a pen or journal to the signer directly but may be required to give them to a guard who will hand them to the inmate.

You’ll want to protect the privacy of unrelated journal entries when you hand off the journal to the inmate to sign, so be sure to attach a cover or privacy guard to cover previous entries before handing the journal to the guard.

Also, be aware that your entire interaction with the inmate will be watched closely by one or more guards and your every word and move will be recorded on video.

Follow your state’s Notary laws

It can be challenging to get a document notarized for an inmate signer. A customer might ask you to notarize a signature outside the presence of an incarcerated signer, or request that you waive normal identification requirements because the inmate lacks access to a proper ID. Always remember that as a Notary, you have a responsibility to follow your state’s Notary laws. Never skip essential steps for notarization such as personal appearance or following your state laws regarding signer identification.

Related Articles:

When to say ‘No’ … and when refusing a notarization isn’t allowed

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Cheryl Kaster

01 Aug 2016

I understand that Hawaii facilities have recently loosened the restriction on inmates having either in their possession, or in their prison file, satisfactory identification required in Hawaii. I think it extremely compromises the notarization process to accept a prison I.D. since many prisoners are booked into the system WITHOUT any identification at all and the name in the prison system is simply what the inmate told them it was. Not exactly reliable identification. Hawaii requires that the I.D. be government issued with a picture and a signature and if it has an expiration date it must be current. There apparently is another issue here. . . the inmate may possibly renew or get a duplicate of an I.D. they don't have in their possession by requesting it, but it is not clear if they will be able to get a new I.D. if their past one has already expired. Notarizing for prisoners is definitely a need. I'm sure they would love it if our state would change the laws to permit a different requirement for acceptable I.D. but I question the wisdom in that since our primary purpose is to prevent fraud.

Anthoney woolley

01 Aug 2016

What other charges Canberra included in the notary. Travel time for example or waiting time as things don't happen quickly on a prison.

National Notary Association

01 Aug 2016

Hello, Whether or not a Notary may charge travel fees depends on state law. Please see this article for more information:

Deborah P. Berry

01 Aug 2016

What the heck?? Why is this required of members?? Do NOT like this!!!

National Notary Association

01 Aug 2016

Hello. We're sorry, but we're not clear from your message what problem you are experiencing. Can you please provide us more details, either by posting here or emailing us at

Guillermo Reyes

08 Aug 2016

You should also check to see what kind of attire you should wear. When I was a process server I had to go serve someone that worked inside a prison, they would not let me in because I was wearing blue jeans, that's what the inmates wore blue jeans. So good idea to check.

Gloria Harrison

13 Sep 2016

Can you complete a PofA for someone in prison?

National Notary Association

13 Sep 2016

Hello. As long as the notarization meets all requirements of your state law, you may notarize the signature of a prison inmate. As mentioned in the article, some prisons and correctional facilities may have restrictions regarding Notaries interacting with prisoners, and prisoners do not always have access to acceptable ID. It's a good idea to contact a prison first to find out if there will be any special restrictions on you before performing the notarization.

Laura Gray

01 Feb 2017

I have a question that hopefully can be answered. I am still fairly new to being a Texas notary and want to make sure I cover all my bases with this odd job. Last night I was contacted by a girl in need of a notary. Her fiancé will be going to prison soon, so they wanted to get married before he went. They wouldn’t be able to see each other if they weren’t married. They informed her that a notary would need to be present for him to fill out his portion of the marriage license. We planned to meet at the jail this week to complete the job. I called this morning the jail to make sure I wouldn’t have any issues with my formal attire, type of briefcase I had with me, etc.. They informed me that it is a new rule that went into effect that I would have to be accompanied by an attorney. I do not have my attorney in town for a little while and did not see this new rule anywhere online. Does this information seem accurate? And is it normal to notarize marriage license? I’m not familiar with the form he will be filling out and hesitant on where I am supposed to stamp. Do you happen to have any insight to this odd situation?

National Notary Association

02 Feb 2017

Hello. We're sorry, but we can't comment on an individual correctional facility's policies regarding contact with inmates. Regarding the marriage license, it would be the signer's responsibility to determine what type of notarization is needed. If the notarial wording or instructions are unclear, the signer should contact the agency that issued the document for instructions. A Notary is not authorized to give advice to a signer as to what type of notarial act is needed as this would be unauthorized practice of law.

Julie Brickley

18 May 2017

Some facilities may also require the notary to got through their background check and be approved by the facility. Special appointment times might be needed as this is more of a legal visit rather than regular visitation. Also, be prepared to have the inmate number and always ask if they are separated from General population.

Donna Schultz

24 May 2017

How do you get paid if your state does allow?

Donald Swanson

24 Jul 2017

Having been a notary at a California State Prison for 17 years, I have always used the State issued ID for prisoners as verification. However, the biggest obstacle is matching the ID name to the document name. Alias names are very common in prison, and a notary needs to refuse to notarize a document if the name does not match the identification name.

Eileen Roe

24 Jul 2017

Wouldn't the prison I.D. be under the name of the person to whom their fingerprints belonged? Who cares what name the prisoner told them at booking? Fingerprints don't lie.

Sheola Farquharson

27 Dec 2017

if i were to get a notary for my younger sister to visit our father in jail does it need to be the original or the copy? the copy has our mom’s driver license while the original does not? would this be a problem trying to visit him without our mother ?

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2018

Hello. You would need to contact the correctional facility where your father is being held and ask them for instructions.

Ebony Thomas

12 Jan 2018

I want to take my niece with me to go see my Husband in prison... what do I need to have my sister do so I can take whatever I need to go get the notary done?

National Notary Association

12 Jan 2018

Hello. You would need to contact the prison and ask for instructions regarding providing documentation for visitors.


30 Jan 2018

We need someone to notarize my fiance marriage application he is currently in Illinois facility I would like to know who can I talk to in order to get this marriage application notarized after my fiance sign off on it I need the name of association with notarize Republican. And I would like to know can someone in the facility like the secretary sign off on notary if not could you plant me in the right direction who can

National Notary Association

30 Jan 2018

Hello. You may wish to do a search online of Notary directories such as to see if there is a Notary available in your area who performs notarizations at correctional facilities.

Duncan Lance

05 Jul 2018

I agree, you definitely want to prepare for additional security when you meet with the signer. It is especially helpful to pay attention to the article when it brings up the fact that you might not be allowed to bring in certain things like bags or purses. After all, you will want to make sure that you follow their rules in order to get what you need from the signer.


23 Jul 2018

This was an informative article, with the exception of one word. "Guards" is a disrespectful term. The correct and non offensive terminology would be Correctional Officer, and or Officer. In California the Correctional Officers have to pass Penal Code Section 832 training and are considered Peace Officers under the law.

Christopher Greene

26 Jan 2019

I've found this to be a great note of information!

Blanca Coria

03 Apr 2019

my concern is in the State of Nevada, specific in las vegas, I found very hard trying to notarized and understand the Procedures in order to complete a notarization for a Prison Inmate.How can a Notary Public can request a visit or appoint a notarization? How long it takes to be able to notarized. Also I want to know if the family of the inmate had any identification, can they provide at the time of notarization?

National Notary Association

03 Apr 2019

Hello. Most of the answers to your questions would depend on the rules of the prison facility. Before accepting a notarization request at the prison, it is strongly recommended that you contact them to find out what security procedures you will be required to follow, whether the signer has ID available, and any special rules regarding the handling of Notary journals in the facility.

Nathan bauscher

10 May 2020

My friend has been sentenced to 8 years in prison. I have possession of his car and his title and drivers license. He signed the title but did not notarize it in jail. Can i be notarized and the rest of the information filled out and sent back to me to complete the title transfer?

National Notary Association

11 May 2020

Hello. You would need to contact the appropriate state motor vehicle department to request instructions for this situation.


13 Dec 2020

I have a loved one in prison in ohio I need to get poa and need a noterary of course he can't be present but I can be this is very important bc he's getting 15 to life for something he didn't do i and he can prove it he just didn't have a fighting chance his lawyer sucked 2 day books was closed so im trying to open the case back up plz

27 Apr 2021

if an inmate has to fil out a 1040 form where does the notary stamp and sign on the form

National Notary Association

29 Apr 2021

Hello. The inmate would need to contact an attorney or the agency that is requesting the documents to ask them to provide this information.


03 May 2021

Hello. My mother is in jail. She wants to fill out Power of Attorney paperwork, but can't get a notary. How can these documents be notarized if they won't let anyone in or witness themselves?

National Notary Association

05 May 2021

Hello. You would need to contact the jail facility to ask for instructions regarding a Notary visiting your mother and performing a notarization.

Cheryl L

20 May 2021

I have a family member in a Federal prison in Pennsylvania. I’m looking go for someone to visit the prison in order to notarize documents that were drawn up last year by a local attorney. The attorney was initially going to visit to execute the documents. However, after multiple requests to the attorney to make a visit, we’re still waiting. If there somewhere that I can access a list of PA notaries who may be willing to complete the notarization task at the facility?

National Notary Association

26 May 2021

Hello. We are not aware of a specific directory for PA Notaries who visit prisons. You may wish to do an online search for mobile Notaries in the vicinity of the facility to see if any offer prison notarization services.


21 May 2021

Hi . How long does it take for a jail notary to be mailed to the person for their property pick up ?

National Notary Association

26 May 2021

Hello. You would need to contact the correctional facility in question to find out any information about their mail schedule.


30 May 2021

Is there a list of notaries I can access from this website, that provides services to a prison? Corcoran Ca. 93212 is the prison location. Thank you

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2021

Hello. We're sorry, but we do not have a specific directory of Notaries who offer services at jails, prisons or correctional facilities. You may wish to search online for Notaries in the vicinity to find out if any offer services at the facility in question.


23 Aug 2021

What about when the form is sent out to the agent, who was chosen to be GPOA. Do they have to get it notarized also?

National Notary Association

26 Aug 2021

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.

James Layman

04 Oct 2021

I have done a good deal of service to local state and county correctional facilities and once you understand the procedures for each - it can be a good source of business. The key is to allot enough time in your schedule and charge accordingly. Here in California a notary can charge a travel fee in addition to the notarization fee. I charge a fixed travel fee which allows for 2 hours inside the facility - if I cannot gain access to the inmate in 2 hours - I have at least been paid for my travel and time. I collect the travel fee in advance and it is not refundable. I collect my notarization fees after I exit the facility - usually in the parking lot. I have the paperwork so there is a pretty good chance I will collect the remainder of the fees due to me. Thus far, I have found the employees, inmates and family members to all be cooperative and friendly. Whoever hires you just needs to be aware that there is a real chance the notary won't gain access to the inmate due to a lockdown or some other interference and that the travel fee is NOT refundable.

Max in PDX

12 Oct 2021

Be aware that the prison might not let you bring your own pens in, as they can be used as weapons. I assume they will provide some in the visiting area, but if you're particular about ink colors, or just want to be prepared, buy some "prison pens" or "jail pens", which are made with flexible rubber bodies. You can easily find them online. (Caveat: I've never done a prison notarization; I just thought the issue worth mentioning.)

elena chambrella

15 Dec 2021

My son is coming out of prison in Honolulu Halawa on sat, 18 2021, we move to las vegas, and he wants to come to las vegas. has no id. can he use his prison id?

National Notary Association

17 Dec 2021

Hello. In Nevada, Notaries may identify a signer through personal knowledge of the signer's identity; an identification document that contains a signature and photograph, or the oath or affirmation of a credible witness who personally knows both the Notary and the signer (NRS 240.1655.4).

Shonda Majors

18 Feb 2022

Our case is taking place in Texas. The inmate that needs to sign/have notarized an affidavit is in Oklahoma. The federal prison is on lockdown due to COVD. Is it possible to have papers notarized during this lockdown or must we wait until when/if the lockdown is lifted for this inmate to be able to have the affidavit notarized?

National Notary Association

18 Feb 2022

Hello. You would need to contact the facility directly to ask if they are permitting Notaries entrance to perform services for inmates at this time.

Deanne Ferran

21 Dec 2022

My husband is in jail in Las Vegas he gave me a piece of paper giving me durable power of attorney it's not notarized but it's a very bottom of the page it says NRS 208.165 a prisoner May execute any instrument by signing his name immediately following a declaration" under penalty of perjury"with the same legal effect as if he had acknowledged it or sworn to it to be it's truth before a person authorized to administer oaths. As used in this section "prisoner"means a person can find in any jail or prison or any facility for the detention of juvenile offenders in the state. So the paper he gave me giving me adorable power of attorney doesn't need to be signed by notary..


15 Mar 2023

My son is in the sterling correctional facility in Colorado. The person that notarizes for the prison, not sure if he works at the prison or has to travel to the prison, is charging $48. Is this normal or average? Its a form for the irs since they won't give the inmate the opportunity to call the irs. Thank you

National Notary Association

17 Mar 2023

Hello. Mobile Notaries often charge separate fees for travel in addition to the fee for performing the notarization. We cannot comment on whether a particular Notary's fees are average for your area as we do not have that information, but you can contact other mobile Notaries offering similar services in your area to ask if they charge a higher, lower, or similar fee.


25 Aug 2023


National Notary Association

28 Aug 2023

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Diane Reeves

25 Sep 2023

I work at a maximum security prison in Ohio. Prison issued ID's are acceptable as any state issued ID (At least in Ohio). They are picture ID's and ONLY that individual is allowed to meet with you. (I write a pass for that individual and they are released from their cell to be brought to me). As an "outsider", ALWAYS check with the facility to make sure you understand their policy and procedures necessary to enter and perform notary functions. The incarcerated individual will need to make arrangements to meet with you and only that individual is brought to you. Check your notary manual to make sure you understand your obligations.

Deborah Kay Shackelford

25 Sep 2023

How would you market that business, I did call local jails but the said you can't market inside the jail.

Susan Bell

25 Sep 2023

Question: In GA can I notarize a document for an incarcerated person by way of personally knowing a credibly identifiable witness that watches the prisoner sign a POA?

National Notary Association

28 Sep 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.

Melinda Buckley-Dupre

25 Sep 2023

What are the rules for inmates in prisons, county jails, mental hospitals in the state of Maryland? Are you allow to use the prison IDs for Prince Georges county? Will their always be a guard? And just bring plastic and paper items instead of original seal? And a cover to protect or inmates information? Travel is their a partiular place to park? Time frame if you are there in the morning can you leave in the morning? is it possible to do E-notarization on the computer with a inmate monitor by the guards and security? Do it have to traditional?

National Notary Association

28 Sep 2023

Hello. You would need to contact the correctional facility directly to answer any questions about security, parking and other procedures for meeting with inmates. In Maryland, a Notary or notarial officer has satisfactory evidence of the identity of an individual if the Notary or notarial officer can identify the individual using a passport, driver’s license, consular identification, or government-issued nondriver identification card; or another form of government identification issued to the individual that contains the signature and photograph of the individual; and is satisfactory to the Notary or notarial officer (ACM St. Gov’t 18-206[b][1]). A Notary or notarial officer also has satisfactory evidence of the identity of an individual by a verification on oath or affirmation of a credible witness who is personally appearing before the Notary or notarial officer and known to the notarial officer or whom the notarial officer can identify on the basis of a passport, driver’s license, consular identification, or government-issued nondriver identification card (ACM St. Gov’t 18-206[b][2]).

Wendy Lewis

26 Sep 2023

I've conducted a few notaries in a jail here in Northern California. I actually had to complete an entire questionnaire for them to conduct a background check and provide my Notary License number so they could confirm my Notary License was valid. Once cleared, I was good for I believe it was one year but may have been 2. Always good to find out who the contact is to clear you well ahead of time. Let them know you will be conducting a notary for an inmate. It took a couple of weeks for me to get cleared then get an appt. This was during covid and all was locked down, so there were no regular visitations out here.

26 Sep 2023

What do I need to notarize a divorce document in prison in Arkansas?

National Notary Association

28 Sep 2023

Hello. The customer would need to tell you what type of notarization they need, and you would need to contact the prison to ask about security instructions for meeting and identifying the signer and performing the notarization.

Dina M

28 Sep 2023

Who pays the notary for this service? The inmate? or the Jail. How is the exchange of payment handled?

National Notary Association

28 Sep 2023

Hello. That would depend on who requested the notarization.


16 Feb 2024

What about Oregon do you know there restrictions?

National Notary Association

23 Feb 2024

Hello. According to the Oregon Notary Public Guide, “If a person is confined in a correctional facility and needs to have documents notarized, identification used to identify the incarcerated person shall be the ID that is used in the facility to positively identify an inmate through examination or comparison of official government documents or records”.


06 Mar 2024

Hello, I have a friend that needs an authorization to travel with his grandchildren out of the state. Would I as a notary be able to go to the facility and have the document signed by the inmate? I live in California

National Notary Association

11 Mar 2024

Hello. To clarify, is the signer in a correctional facility?

Mary Jenkins

11 Mar 2024

Hi I'm trying to get my fiance out of jail so we're just wondering if you guys can sign for us

National Notary Association

11 Mar 2024

Hello. We are a professional educational organization for Notaries, and do not provide legal or attorney services. If you are looking for a Notary in your area to perform notarization services at a correctional facility, you can use our searchable directory:

Susan F

19 Apr 2024

Can you help me with the guidelines for notaries in TN in regards to acceptable forms of identification for incarcerated individuals?

National Notary Association

25 Apr 2024

Hello. Tennessee permits accepting the following forms of identification for a notarization: "For the purposes of this chapter ‘satisfactory evidence’ means the absence of any information, evidence, or other circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the person making the acknowledgment is not the individual he or she claims to be and any one (1) of the following: “1. The oath or affirmation of a credible witness personally known to the officer that the person making the acknowledgment is personally known to the witness. “2. Reasonable reliance on the presentation to the officer of any one of the following, if the document is current or has been issued within five (5) years: “A. An identification card or driver’s license issued by the department of safety; or “B. A passport issued by the United States department of state. “3. Reasonable reliance on the presentation of any one (1) of the following, if the document is current or has been issued within five (5) years and contains a photograph and description of the person named on it, is signed by the person, bears a serial or other identifying number, and, in the event that the document is a passport, has been stamped by the United States immigration and naturalization service: “A. A passport issued by a foreign government; “B. A driver’s license issued by a state other than Tennessee; “C. An identification card issued by a state other than Tennessee; or “D. An identification card issued by any branch of the armed forces of the United States” (TCA 66- 22-106[c]).


12 Jun 2024

How do you get paid when conducting notarization for for Federal, State or County prisoners?

National Notary Association

14 Jun 2024

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

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