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What Would You Do: The case of the teen with a child's ID photo

teen-ID-resized.jpgThe Notary Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging situations. To boost your knowledge of Notary standards of practice, we’ve created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask a simple question: What would you do?

Verifying the identity of signers is one of a Notary’s most important duties. Most of the time, it goes smoothly: The signer hands you a state-issued ID, you compare the photo and description to the signer and everything seems to match. But sometimes there’s a red flag. Maybe there’s a weight difference, a different hair style or an obvious age difference. Does it mean the signer is an imposter? Or is there a good explanation?

This real-life scenario presents just such a conundrum. Imagine a 16-year-old male comes to you to notarize his signature on a birth certificate correction form. He hands you an ID card issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The name matches, but the picture on the ID is that of an 8-year-old child. “I’ve had this card for a long time,” the teenager says. “That’s what I looked like when I first got this ID card.”

What would you do?

Do you think the signer’s explanation is plausible and perform the notarization? Do you suspect he’s lying and refuse to continue? Or is there another alternative you would choose?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do?” scenario, share your answers in the comments section below. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this notarial challenge.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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Add your comment


06 Dec 2018

If it Vermont's DMV, the ID is valid for at most 4 years, and expired on the 12th birthday. If the notarization request is after June 30, 2019, I can only use an ID that's expired less that 3 years, and this one is expired for 4 years, so I can't use it. Before looking for some alternative way to ID the signer, I will want to understand why the signer is signing a document of this nature without the parent being present. I'm an EMT, so if I come to suspect the teen is a runaway or being abused, I will be obliged to contact the police and the Vermont Department of Children and Families.

Janet Aguilera

10 Dec 2018

I request two witness or a second form of identification. To me is like been without identification

Roland Duval

10 Dec 2018

My duty as a Notary , the teen is under age, I’d ask for his/her parents under the Florida law , they ‘re the only ones to authorize their signatures for the under age kid

Cindy Vargas

10 Dec 2018

In my state, a document signed by person who isn't legally emancipated or at least 18 years old, is not recognized as a legal document. Regardless, whether or not the ID had passed its expiration date, if I'm not able to make a positive ID based on that evidence, it is my duty to refuse the notarization. If this person was legally allowed to sign the document, I would ask for an alternate form of state or federally issued ID. If there was none available, the next step would be a credible identifying witness.

Theresa Shannon

10 Dec 2018

Human trafficking is a real issue and every Notary should be aware and alert. If a teen needs a notarization There is no “ story” that will affect my need to properly identify the person signing. An identifiable government issued photo ID is required. This means I must be able to match the photo to the person. If someone asks me to notarize a letter or document pertaining to a child I ask to see a matching identity for the child ie birth certificate matches parents name. I follow the same logic as someone signing in representative capacity- show me You have the “ability “ to sign in this capacity.

David Towers

10 Dec 2018

Because he is a minor I would require parent)s) as credible witness or guardian with proof of guardianship for any notarizarion.


10 Dec 2018

I would want more identification before I am satisfied. After all, the request is to CHANGE an identifying document that people use to make MAJOR purchases throughout their lives, as well as positive identification. I agree with Gerry--where is/are his parent(s)? Smelly fishy to me and I would want to have the parents and an attorney involved in this.

Duan O White

10 Dec 2018

In Florida, where I am, I would rely on two credible witnesses (with proper ID).

Patricia Bernier

10 Dec 2018

Just because he has had the ID "for a long time", doesn't mean the notary should not look at the expiration date of that ID. Some people do take photos that seem younger -- no one could have a drivers license at the age of 8. If the facial features match and the ID has not expired and you can tell it is an official ID card and not a phoney, I would accept it.

C Phillips

10 Dec 2018

Request a more recent and valid picture ID or refuse to perform the notary work.

C Clark

10 Dec 2018

Two credible witnesses (with a parent or guardian as one), or maybe even a school id that has a current picture with the same name, may be allowed. It would depend on the state and any requirements of state law.

Virginia Wells

10 Dec 2018

I would advise the 16 year old to either go to the DMV to have an updated picture and ID card made or if he's in high school, have the school print a current ID card and picture.

Dawn Henderson

10 Dec 2018

I would have to inform him to come back with a more recent form of id. That I can not accept that because of the photo being so old.


10 Dec 2018

Arizona does not, as far as I know, accept expired ID's for any purpose. I would inform the teen that he needs to return with his parents (with their ID's) or go to DMV and obtain an updated picture ID. I would decline the notarization until that was done.


10 Dec 2018

After I told him it would be a good idea to get an updated ID, I would ask that he produce a parent and/or legal guardian with legal ID to vouch for his identity and make a notation that they did so in my notary journal

Karolin Savarani

10 Dec 2018

In California, we cannot accept IDs that were issued more than five years ago. He will need to bring a new ID or two subscribing witnesses. I would also make a note in my journal that he is 16 years old.

Elanda Aaron-Ross

10 Dec 2018

The Identification he presented does nothing to identify the person sitting in front of me therefore; I would not complete the Notarization. Additionally, if he received the ID card when he was 8 and he is 16, I would be suspicious as to why he has waited such a long time to renew this identification card. He is using an expired ID card, he is a high school student who should very well at least have in his possession a high school ID card. Too many questions with an easy solution if, he is who he says he is.

10 Dec 2018

South Carolina us where I hail & if I'm ever presented with such an issue, I will definitely check the expiration date of the identification card. Our state issues five and ten year identification cards. If the child takes issues with my fully examining card presented, then I would simply refuse to notarize. Who has time for all that drama, HELLO.

Sharon D. Sanchez

10 Dec 2018

If I don't know anyone who knows this teenager, I would tell him/her to come back with 2 people that have proper ID and that know that he is who he says he is. Then I would notary the documents with the 2 people he brought in as Credible Witnesses along with an oath or affirmation.

T Harris

10 Dec 2018

In Texas, the state or federal issued ID has to be current. So, in the scenario of the 16-year-old showing an ID card from when they were 8 years-old, would not be accepted.


10 Dec 2018

It is obviously not his ID,DMV does not issue to Minors,and their picyure now appears with a side view.


10 Dec 2018

For a birth certificate correction he or she would have to go to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Personally I would not take a chance regarding a government document. As a reputable notary public I reserve the right to refuse to notarize any type of form I am not comfortable with carrying out a notarial act.

William T. Cline

10 Dec 2018

In Pennsylvania, a 10 yr old can get an ID card from the PaDOT, with the Parent's signature as consent. and they must accompany the child and have proof of identity for the child (2 required, SS Card and a second ,ie: birth certificate, passport,etc). I would send this person away and advise to return with a parent or guardian. Also I would advise him to make sure his parents also bring proper ID as your notarization will rely on their supporting affirmations.


10 Dec 2018

I wouldn't notarized. I would ask for legal guardians to be present with ID.


10 Dec 2018

Bingo, Shelley! I can't think of any occasion where an 8 year old child would have a DMV issued ID.


10 Dec 2018

I don't believe the California DMV issues ID cards to minors, and I don't know that a minor is allowed to make birth certificate change requests without parental approval, so I would refuse to notarize.

P Gleich

10 Dec 2018

ID out of date - should have student I.D. - Parental - OK. - underage for change


10 Dec 2018

I guess if he is 16, still a minor I may request further evidence or maybe a parent verification.

P. Platner

10 Dec 2018

In California DMV issues identification (ID) cards to persons of any age. The ID card looks like a driver license (DL) but is used for identification purposes only. A regular ID card is valid for six (6) birthdates from the date of application, and a senior citizen ID card is valid for eight (8) birthdates from the date of application. So i would not notarize due to this ID is now expired.


10 Dec 2018

Based on the statutes and the guidelines the State of Florida has given me, I would refuses the request. The most common situations with statutory prohibitions occur when: the notary does not personally know the signer and the signer cannot produce acceptable identification; In addition to the situations described above, a notary may refuse to perform a notarization in a variety of circumstances, such as when: the signer is a minor;


11 Dec 2018

In my state if a minor wants their name changed, this is something that must be done in a court of law by his/her parents. This entire situation is out of order.

Deborah Camara

11 Dec 2018

The ID with photo of much younger person is valid as long as it is not expired. I know people whose CA drivers' licenses have had the same photo for 20 years. I would ask him for a second form of ID to confirm his identity. Maybe can also take his fingerprints to confirm his identity also.

Vincent Enriquez

11 Dec 2018

Definitely, I would request another form of identification (school ID) and/or two credible witnesses with ID. Now, since him being a minor, . My question is: Does a minor has the power to modify his birth certificate? Under that doubt, most likely, I would refuse to Notarize the document

Shannon Robeson

12 Dec 2018

In the state of Florida, the ID card is issued for 8 years. First, check the expiration date. Because he is under age of 18 the amendment to a birth record must be done by a parent or legal guardian. To amend a certificate of birth in Florida you must be 18 or older. If you’re under the age of 18 or have a disability declaring you mentally under the age of 18 the “Affidavit of Amendment” must be completed by the parent(s) listed on the birth certificate or the person or agency with legal custody of the minor needing the change. If the person is attempting to change the name on the birth certificate such as a spelling error or changing from mother’s maiden name to birth fathers last name both parents must sign the “Affidavit of Amendment” if both parents are named on the birth record. If a parent is unwilling to sign the document the minor would need to seek court action. If you are not providing the original documents that show proof for the changes you can supply the health department with a certified/notarized copy for each required documentation. Use DH Form 430, 5/04

Robin J

12 Dec 2018

Many thoughts come to mind. How did he get the ID card in the first place? In Pennsylvania you one of the acceptable proofs of ID is your birth certificate, so if it was incorrect how would he have gotten the ID card before the correction was made to the birth certificate? In Pennsylvania you can only get an ID card if you are 10 years or older, so a photo of him at 8 years old would raise another question and in Pennsylvania a photo ID is only good for 4 years. Also, he is a minor and by law is not allowed to make those changes until he is 18 years old. For these reasons I would refuse to notarize the document.

Regina Joseph

12 Dec 2018

I would require the parents to be present & I will request their IDs as well as a bill with the name of the parents which include their address as well. We're living in the time of the Millinem stage where this generation of youth are extremely smart, so for any legal document, it's better to be safe than sorry

Linda Meglio

12 Dec 2018

In PA you cannot notarize if the ID is expired. I do know at 16 the child can legally change his name.


14 Dec 2018

In California this is is good for 8 years. Of course check and record issue date and expiration date on the I’d card. If it was issued when the minor was 8 years old his photo would be that of an 8 year old. The notary ins not responsible for the validity of the document only the validity of the signer. If dates are all good on the I’d I would notarize his signature. Hope I’m right!! Never have I come across this situation.

Andrea Greene

14 Dec 2018

In California, you are not issued a driver's license until 16 years of age (15 for a learner's permit) and your photograph is taken at the DMV upon successful completion of testing. There is no way this individual, in my state, could have a picture of himself at 8 years old on his government issued driving license so obviously fraudulent. I'm surprised any state would put a picture of someone when they are 8 years old on a drivers license that would most likely be issued when they are a teenager and have passed their driving test.

Sara Parrish

14 Dec 2018

Verify the ID was issued within the last 5 years

Carol Edwards

26 Dec 2018

I would not notarize a document that is not verifiable. I would suggest to the 16 yr old that he gets an updated ID with a recent picture. The. 8 year old picture is not a valid form of identification for a 16 year old. If in doubt - don’t

Simone Hardy

27 Dec 2018

I wasn't aware that an 8-year-old needed ID. However, at 16 years old, he should have secured a more updated ID especially if he's working or in school. I would have required his parents or refused to notarize the document.

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