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Notary Tip: Unusual IDs — Acceptable Or Not?

Last updated: 7-11-2022. Notaries encounter many kinds of identification daily. The most common forms of identification documents encountered are driver's licenses or U.S. passports. However, on occasion signers may present you with an unfamiliar form of ID. Determining if you can accept unusual identification documents is sometimes challenging, depending on your state law.

Some states have clear acceptance standards for these IDs, but others do not. As a result, Notaries are responsible for knowing what forms of identification are acceptable. Therefore it's very important to know your state's ID requirements.

Here are some types of unusual identification you might encounter as a Notary Public:

Tribal Identification Cards

Tribal identification cards are issued by most Native American tribes as proof of membership. Tribal ID cards differ slightly from one issuing organization to another. Generally, these ID cards contain the bearer's name, date of birth, enrollment number and expiration date. Some contain a physical description of the bearer.

Many states allow Notaries Public to accept tribal ID cards, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Mississippi and North Carolina. Some of these states may require that the ID be issued by a federally recognized tribe. A regularly updated list of federally recognized tribes is posted on the U.S. Federal register.

Consular Identification Card

Consular identification cards — sometimes called matricula consular cards — are issued by the embassies and consulates of some foreign governments to their citizens who live in a foreign country. Additionally, these types of identification may be in a foreign language, so care should be taken when accepting a consular ID.

Some states allow you to accept consular IDs. However, there may be restrictions, so pay careful attention to any consular ID you may be presented to verify that it meets your state's requirements.

For example, California permits Notaries to accept consular IDs as long as they contain a photograph, description and signature of the person as well as an identifying number. Mexican consular IDs lack a physical description, so they would not be acceptable in California.

In Illinois, an ID issued by a consulate is acceptable as long as it contains a photo and signature of the individual. Consequently, a Mexican consular ID would be acceptable.

Travel Visa

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who travels to another country must first obtain a travel visa, which is placed in the traveler's passport.

This type of document is not used for identification. Rather, it is used for permission to travel to a certain country. Travel visas rarely list critical identification information such as date of birth, signature or physical description. As such, a travel visa should not be used to identify a signer.

Global Entry Card

A Global Entry card is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.

The Global Entry card is technically a travel clearance card. Because it does not contain many critical identification card elements such as physical description or bearer's signature, it would not be acceptable in the states that require IDs to contain these elements. As a standard of professional practice, a Global Entry card should not be used for identifying a signer in states that do not have statutory ID requirements.

International Driver's License

An "International Driver's License" (IDL) or "International Driver's Permit" (IDP) is a document that permits a traveler to operate a motor vehicle when visiting a foreign country. For example, if a U.S. citizen wanted to drive a car while visiting France, the prospective tourist could apply for an IDL.

Many con-artists in the United States sell fake IDLs and falsely claim they can replace a license or ID issued by a U.S. state. An IDL is not valid in the driver's home country and is not a satisfactory form of ID for notarization. Notaries should never accept any document purported to be an "IDL" as proof of a signer's identity.

School ID

A student identification card is issued by nearly all schools, colleges and universities. The layout and look of these cards varies greatly from school to school. Additionally, these types of ID cards are issued by both public and private schools.

If your state government only defines the type of acceptable ID as "government issued ID", carefully examine a school ID card to ensure it issued by a public school and meets all your state's other identification requirements before accepting it.

Know Your State's Requirements

The guidelines or requirements for what constitutes an acceptable ID vary greatly from one state to another.

California and Florida, for example, provides a specific list of acceptable IDs. Texas permits Notaries to accept current IDs issued by state or federal agencies that contain a photograph and signature of the signer; current foreign passports also are acceptable for notarizations relating to residential real estate transactions.

Alabama provides only general guidance, stating that a Notary should require whatever form of identification is adequate to reasonably ascertain the identification of the signer. This gives Alabama Notaries broad discretion in determining whether they will or will not accept any of the unusual IDs discussed in this article, as well as any other form of identification.

In states that do not provide rules for acceptable ID, the recommended best practice is to rely on identification documents issued by state or federal government agencies which contain a photograph, a physical description and the bearer's signature.

If you have questions about your state's ID requirements for notarizations, you can call the NNA Hotline for further guidance.

John Jacobson is a Notary Consultant with the Information Services team at the National Notary Association and regularly answers questions from Notaries on the NNA Hotline.

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Add your comment

Jean_R. Theodore

03 Jul 2019

Already have a Public Notary Commission in NJ,. Interested in getting the loan signing- certificate.

Victor Velazquez

22 Jul 2019

How About a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) issues by USCIS. Will that form of ID be acceptable?

National Notary Association

22 Jul 2019

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


22 Jul 2019

Your Texas info is not correct - the passport acceptance in real estate transactions refers to using a FOREIGN passport for identification. The foreign passport must be current, must contain a signature, and it may only be used as identification by the signer when notarizing real estate documents. Signed USA passports are acceptable for any notarization in Texas.


13 Jul 2020

Please check on IL F.O.I.D. card and IL Concealed Carry card. Both require a background check, and Concealed Carry requires training. BOTH are government issyed, contain DOB, issue date and expiration date. Thx.

National Notary Association

14 Jul 2020

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.

Phyllis A Denison

26 Jul 2021

I often am called to the So. VA Home for Veterans. More often than not, they no longer have a valid Driver's license nor an AZ DMV photo id card. What they do have is their VA photo ID. And, a family member is also present along with, sometimes the Social Worker. I list the VA Photo ID as my form of verifying their identity as well as listing in my journal the presence of one or more witnesses.

Jane Coleman

29 Jul 2021

When you recommend that the commenter contact your hotline for clarification with their question, can you then publish the outcome? I am interested in the Illinois FOID card response.

Amanda Bennett

30 Jul 2021

The Voters Registration list acceptable identity documents by the state. There is even free training videos.

David V Moore

04 Apr 2022

I am a Notary Pubic in the State of Ohio. What requirements do I have to meet to accept a foreign ID?

National Notary Association

07 Apr 2022

Hello. Ohio does not provide specific guidelines regarding foreign IDs. The Secretary of State's web site says the following: “Ohio Revised Code Section 147.53 requires the notary public to have satisfactory evidence as to the signer’s identity, which means personal knowledge or other evidence of the signer’s identity. A notary public has personal knowledge of the identity of the signer if the signer is personally known to the notary public through dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the signer has the identity claimed. A notary public may have satisfactory evidence of the signer’s identity by viewing a passport, driver’s license or other government issued photo identification card. Although, a notary public may consider other forms of identification or verification on oath or affirmation of a credible witness personally appearing before the notary public and known to the notary public or whom the notary public can identify by viewing a passport, driver’s license or other government issued photo identification card. A notary public should only proceed with the notarial act upon receipt of satisfactory evidence of the signer’s identity” (website, “Notary Information, Resources and FAQs”).


11 Apr 2022

When a patient is in the hospital and does not have their driver's license, would a hospital armband ever be acceptable? These would not have a picture ID, but the hospital would have verified their identify when they are admitted.

National Notary Association

11 Apr 2022

Hello. It would depend on your state's identification rules for notarization. If you can tell us what state you are commissioned in, we can provide you with more specific information.

Melanie Garcia

10 May 2022

I am in CA and only notarize for my company, but recently I have considered notarizing for the general public. I would like to know if notaries have experienced more difficulty in identifying signers with the introduction of non-binary gender added to the description on an ID and the increase in identity changes?

quadralis lewis

10 May 2022

How can I get a notary identification card

National Notary Association

18 May 2022

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

Mamie B Richburg

17 Jun 2022

Extremely helpful. Thank you for this great need to know information.

18 Jul 2022

The name of your organization is the NATIONAL....... however, these articles often talk about a handful of states (often the same ones) and never have specific info for many other states, including mine, NY. Why not write articles and have info/links for ALL 50 states, given that your organization is named the NATIONAL....... Thank you.

National Notary Association

18 Jul 2022

Hello. When we write articles on state Notary laws, rules and procedures, we always seek to include relevant information when state laws and regulations address it. However, not every state addresses all Notary related issue in its statutes, so instructions for all 50 states sometimes are not always available for every topic. When possible, we do publish articles that include information resources for all 50 states-for example, please see "A guide to Notary travel fees across the United States" ( and "How to certify a copy of a document" ( Also, the NNA Knowledge Center also includes several sections with information for all 50 states available on different Notary related topics (, including New York. Finally, if you have a state-specific question and cannot find the information in one of our articles, please feel free to post it here in the comments and our Communications team or Hotline Counselors will do our best to assist you. We hope this information helps you find any state-specific information you need on the NNA website.

Jennifer Miller

18 Jul 2022

There are many workers here in Louisiana that are required to go through a lengthy federal background check process every year for TSA, and issued a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). This card has a photo, name, number and expiration date. I've been using it as a secondary form of ID and have had no negative responses. Do you have any info on this?

National Notary Association

22 Jul 2022

The state of Louisiana does not have any laws or guidelines regarding what types of documents can be used for identification of a signer. We do recommend that the ID have a photograph, a serial number, signature of the signer and be satisfactory to the Notary.

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