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What is the best way to make copies of a photo ID?

Photo of woman with long dark hair on phone. She is looking at papers in her hand. Text on image reads NNA Hotline Tip.

As a mobile Notary, what is the best way to make copies of documents such as a photo ID?A. D., California

There are times when a mobile Notary or Signing Agent is instructed to obtain a copy of the borrower’s ID while at a loan signing.  When calling to confirm the signing appointment, the best practice is to instruct the borrower to provide a photocopy of their ID(s) at the time of the appointment since it is their ID and you must respect their privacy.

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

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline consultants to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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Timothy Mullen

07 Nov 2022

I’m a Notary Public in the State of Ohio, I’ve always been required to see an actual Driver License or Passport specifically when someone brings a Photo copy of the said identification. There was an instance of where a photo copied driver license was used for identification and their license had in fact been taken away by a Judge, making it a invalid form of identification. One quick question, I perform mobile location notarization of buyer and seller documents. For identification purposes I take a photo of their licenses, due to no copy machine being available. Should I be keeping these photos for records or be deleting them after I send them to the Title Company? Thank you

National Notary Association

13 Dec 2022

We do not recommend that a Notary not take pictures of any form of identification due to privacy concerns. Sending such photos via text or email is not a secure method of transmission. If the signers wish to take a picture of their ID and text or email such photos they can do that if they wish.


09 Nov 2022

I have had signing agent wanting to take picture of my id and passport. Before I became a notary, I question it. Now that I am a notary, I do not think it's in the best interest of the client. If the company needs Pictures it should be sent directly to them. Taking pictures with phone doesn't protect the client as everything is stored in that notary email account.

Elaine Leadlove-Plant

11 Nov 2022

Lucy: You are correct, taking a picture of a government document on your telephone is a breach of the client's privacy. While many lenders and real estate broker make this requirement it is erroneous. The federal and state financial institutions requirement is that the notary or bank employee VIEW the identification and then record on a separate document the government agency issuing the document, the name of the document, the date issued, the date of expiration, the document number, is the address the same as on another ID, e.g. Driver's License, did the picture resemble the person presenting. Requiring a photocopy is the 'being lazy', there is absolutely no valid reason for my government issues passport, immigration card, etc. to be copied and I refuse every time the demand is made and quote the actual regulatory/legal requirement and limitation. If taking a picture were sufficient, why would notaries be needed?

Michael Dahlheim

30 Jan 2024

I have watched several Loan Signing vidoes, some just look at the IDs, one looked like he recorded it and one took a picture with his phone. If I ask the client to provide a photo copy and they cannot , what are my next steps?

National Notary Association

31 Jan 2024

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.

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