Notary Tip: Unusual IDs — Acceptable Or Not?
July 19th, 2022
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.
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.
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