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Signing Agent Tip: Loan signings and ID issues

Signing Agent tip loan signings and ID issues article

Updated 1-23-23. A Notary Signing Agent has two roles during a loan closing — one is to notarize loan documents, and the other is ensuring the loan package is signed and delivered in a timely fashion. An essential part is verifying the signer’s identity according to state law. But in some closings, a lender, title company or contracting agency may not go through with a signing unless the borrower provides additional proof of identity beyond state requirements for a notarization. What if the signer can’t meet the request for additional ID? 

Always follow your state’s Notary ID laws

First, remember that when performing notarizations for loan documents, the signer’s ID must always meet the minimum statutory requirements for the state where the signing takes place.

Identification requirements vary from state by state. For example, California’s ID rules specifically list the types of ID documents that may be accepted by a Notary. Missouri, on the other hand, requires the ID is presented to be issued by a federal, state, or tribal government in a language understood by the Notary, and include a photo, signature and a physical description of the individual (Missouri Notaries may also accept a properly stamped passport that does not have a physical description).

Not every state’s definition of “satisfactory evidence” requires the name on the document and the name on the ID to exactly match. For example, differences in nicknames versus birth names, or initials or suffixes, may not always be a problem, depending on the state you are commissioned in. 

Handling additional ID requests during a loan signing

During some loan signings, a lender or contracting agency may ask a borrower to present additional forms of identification or may ask that any ID presented include additional elements beyond those required by your state’s Notary statutes. For instance, if a PATRIOT Act form is included in the loan document package, two forms of ID may be needed and the PATRIOT Act form usually includes a list of acceptable alternate IDs. Another example is some lenders may ask the borrower to present a valid, current ID during a loan document signing, even if an expired ID would normally be acceptable under your state’s Notary laws.

Before the appointment takes place, you should check if the lender or contracting agency has additional identification requirements for the loan document signing. That way, you can let the signer know before the appointment that extra proof of ID will be needed. Remember, any ID used as proof of identity for a notarization must meet all requirements set by your state’s Notary laws.

Options if the signer lacks ID

If the signer’s ID does not meet statutory requirements for the notarization or the signer has no ID, many states allow the option to use one or more credible identifying witnesses to vouch for the signer’s identity. However, some lenders also may not accept credible witnesses as proof of a signer’s identity for a loan document signing, even if your state normally permits Notaries to accept credible witnesses as proof of identity.

If you face other identification problems with the borrower that you can’t resolve at the table, reach out to the contracting company, explain the situation, and see if another alternative permitted by state law is acceptable. 

Recommended guidelines for identifying signers

Finally, the “Notary Signing Agent Code of Conduct," accepted by many title companies and lenders, provides ethical guidelines on identification protocols for NSAs. The guidelines demand the following: 

  • The NSA should exercise a high degree of care in verifying the identity of any person whose identity is the subject of a notarial act 
  • NSAs should not accept an identity document for notarization that is not authorized by state law, or accept any other means of identification not allowed by law as satisfactory evidence in order to expedite a closing 
  • The NSA should not notarize the signature of a person whose name on the document can’t be verified with reasonable certainty by looking at a written ID card or by the oaths of credible witnesses 

Laura Biewer is founder of and owns At Your Service Mobile Notary in Modesto, California. She also teaches seminars for the National Notary Association and is a regular presenter at the NNA's annual Conferences.


Add your comment

Hope Carr

08 Jan 2019

Why am I seeing this?? I am a member of the NNA, much to my chagrin..because I have to appease several signing companies.

Luz Rose

30 Jan 2023

CA. Some of the PATRIOT Act forms that the lender includes in the package ask for a SECOND ID and it's very specific about what we can use. Some borrowers argue with me because they want to use a veteran (military ID) and those don't have an ID number. They said that is better than anything else as an ID. And it doesn't matter how I explained, they don't want to listen.

Terry Kelly

29 Aug 2023

I usually use the Homeowners Insurance Dec Page as a second ID on the Patriot Act form. Absent that, most borrowers have a Costco card.

Rosanne Toncevich

23 Jan 2024

Tell me if I am correct please: If the docs do not have the correct wording for the notary signing page that my state requires, I am required to add the states Acknowledgment page and not what is on their written doc and draw a diagonal line through their wordage and write “See attached Acknowledgment”. Is that correct? And if the title company or lender insists that I do not cross it out and forbids me from using the state’s Acknowledgment page, do I continue with the signing at their demands? Or do I walk?

National Notary Association

29 Jan 2024

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and speak to them directly about 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.

Shauna Berthenia Spann

29 Jan 2024

Very helpful.

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