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Notary Bulletin

Digital IDs: Acceptable For Notarizations?


Colorado has become the latest state to authorize the use of digital driver’s licenses and identity cards. But Notaries in the other 49 states and the District of Columbia may encounter signers from the Centennial State who present an ID on their cell phones rather than a physical ID. If this happens, is it acceptable as proper identification for a notarization?

It depends on different factors. Here’s what you need to know.

What Colorado Did With Digital IDs

Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order in October 2019 authorizing and legalizing digital versions of the state’s IDs, which are accessed through the “myColorado” mobile application. Initially, digital IDs will not replace their paper counterparts, and the state’s residents are being encouraged to keep their physical IDs as a backup at least until the end of 2020.

The new digital IDs allow Colorado residents to use a digital driver’s license or ID card on their mobile devices as legal proof of identity with all state agencies. (UPDATE 12-13-19): The Colorado Secretary of State's office has asked Colorado Notaries to refrain from accepting digital IDs as proof of identity for notarizations until the Secretary of State's office issues an official policy on the matter.

The executive order also directs the state’s Office of Information and Technology and the Division of Motor Vehicles to work with the federal government to make sure the digital IDs are REAL ID compliant.

Can Notaries In Other States Accept Digital IDs?

According to the California Secretary of State’s office: “California Notaries Public may accept a digital driver’s license or digital identification card issued in Colorado beginning December 1, 2019, to establish satisfactory evidence, providing the digital identification is current or issued within the past five years, contains a photograph and description of the person, (is) signed by the person, and bears a serial or other identifying number as required by California Civil Code § 1185(b)(4).”

The Ohio Secretary of State’s office also indicated that Colorado’s digital IDs would be considered “satisfactory evidence” of a signer’s identity and could be used in Ohio. The identification will be legal in Colorado and therefore, can be relied upon in Ohio.

Other states, especially those with specific lists or requirements for identity documents, may not be so accommodating. It will depend on how the state Notary regulators interpret their statutes. If you are commissioned in one of these states, you may want to reach out to your Secretary of State’s office for clarification.

Some states, such as New York and New Jersey, do not have specific laws regarding acceptable ID. They leave it up to the individual Notary to decide whether to accept a specific ID. If you are commissioned in one of these states, it will be your judgment call whether a digital ID is satisfactory proof of identity.

Remember, as mentioned above, Colorado residents are being encouraged to carry their physical IDs at least until the end of 2020.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

The ID Book





Add your comment

Larry Greer

16 Dec 2019

Does this digital ID also include the back of the ID? How do these work with an I-9 form? Usually you need to provide a copy of the ID used to satisfy this form? So the signer would need to print out their ID or be able to transmit it to the administrator of the form so THEY can print it?

Roberta Arnone, Esq.

16 Dec 2019

I think it would be helpful to get a quote from the NNA's approved Notary insurance provider of E & O coverage, Merchants Bonding Company, on the issue of whether to accept digital identification in states where the law is currently silent. A Notary who has taken the steps to protect his own commission by paying for an E & O policy, is entitled to know whether his/her acts fall within the protections of Notary insurance. Wish this NNA update would have included guidance from Merchants on recommended best practices.


16 Dec 2019

Like receiving the emails keeps notaries updated


16 Dec 2019

“Louisiana in July became the first state to make digital licenses available to anyone who wants them, and at least 14 other states either have developed a program, run a pilot or are studying the possibility, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.l

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