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What are the rules for Notaries accepting tribal IDs?

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

I am wondering if it’s acceptable for me to accept a tribal ID. Is it required for me to make a copy of the ID or is it just required to record it in my notary journal? M. G., Washington

Yes, it is acceptable to accept a tribal ID, no, you should not make a copy of the ID, and yes, you must record the ID in your journal. With respect to your first question, a Notary can accept government-issued identification that is current or expired not more than 3 years before performance of the notarial act provided it is satisfactory to the notarial officer (RCW 42.45.050[2]). A tribal government that issues an ID qualifies under the statute. You must decide whether it is satisfactory to you to accept it. In answer to your second question, a Notary should not photocopy or maintain a photocopy of an identification card. To your third question, Washington statute says you must note in your journal a “A description of the notary public’s method of identifying the principal” (Wash. Admin. Code 308-30-200[1][b].

For more information about Notaries and tribal IDs in other states, please read our article, “Unusual IDs — Acceptable or not?

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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Jerry Lucas

09 Oct 2023

One of my customers had a tribal ID card from the Lakota (Sioux) tribe. Her last name was Walking Horse. I asked if she knew her family history. She said, yes, her ancestor was Chief Crazy Horse, who killed General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Some tribes appoint tribal notaries who follow tribal laws, not state notary laws. Cherokee notaries in Oklahoma follow different laws than Oklahoma state notaries.


09 Oct 2023

A Tribal ID may be acceptable under Washington regulations, but exercise caution anywhere else. Not all Tribes/Nations issue IDs with the required information. It is best to reference the specific ID requirements in your state. I am an Arizona Notary who worked for a large tribe for many years. Often, the only ID they had was their tribal ID. Sadly, it did not include a physical description and therefore, was not valid for notary service.

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