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Can Credible Witnesses Be Used If The Signer Forgot ID?

New Hotline Resized 3If a signer requests a notarization but forgot to bring acceptable identification, could the Notary suggest using a credible identifying witness? — R.D., California

 No, a Notary cannot use credible witnesses for a signer who has an ID but forgot to bring it. A credible witness must take an oath swearing to the identity of the signer stating the signer does not possess any of the identification documents authorized by law to establish the signer’s identity (Civil Code 1185 [b][1][A][iv]). The signer would have to return with their valid identification to have their signature notarized. 

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

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17 Jun 2019

The Commonwealth of Virginia allows a credible witness if he/she is known by the signer and the notary, or two credible witnesses if not know by the notary. They must have a picture ID that is valid. (cannot be expired)


24 Jun 2019

I had a customer that was in the hospital very ill and she needed her father to take her car out of a parking garage because the time and money for the parking was running. She was giving authorization to her father to get the car out of the parking place BUT she had her ID/DL inside the car. She did not have a passport or other government ID to Identify herself. In this case a couple of witnesses would not help to notarize the authorization for her father to take care of her car?

Eileen Roe

24 Jun 2019

Who the heck brings a document to a Notary without any ID??? Don't waste my time!

Jerry Lucas

24 Jun 2019

Colorado law changed with RULONA in July 2018. Under the old law, the credible witness only needed to make a verbal oath to identify the signer. Under RULONA, the CW must sign a written affidavit before the notary. I did research on this topic and wrote a Colorado Notary Blog post at

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