5 Crucial Reasons for Proper Identification for Notarization

As a notary, one of our most important functions is to properly identify all signers and witnesses for the documents being notarized. Having proper identification is crucial for document notarization for several key reasons:

  1. Verification of Identity: The primary role of a notary public is to verify the identity of the person signing the document. Proper identification ensures that the person is who they claim to be, preventing fraud and ensuring the document is signed by the correct individual.
  2. Deterrence of Fraud: Requiring proper identification helps to deter fraud by making it more difficult for someone to impersonate another person. This safeguards the integrity of the notarized document.
  3. Legal Compliance and Recordkeeping: Notaries are bound by law to verify the identity of the signers. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences for the notary, including penalties, loss of commission, and potential involvement in legal disputes. Proper identification provides a verifiable record that can be referenced if the authenticity of the notarization is ever questioned. Notaries typically log the details of the identification in their records for future reference.
  4. Trust and Credibility: The notary’s seal and signature on a document are trusted indicators that the document is legitimate. Proper identification upholds this trust and credibility, ensuring that the notarization process is reliable and respected.
  5. Prevention of Unauthorized Actions: By verifying identities, notaries prevent unauthorized individuals from executing documents on behalf of someone else without proper authority. This is particularly important for legal, financial, and official documents where unauthorized actions could have significant consequences.

Forms of Acceptable Identification

For the State of Florida, (as indicated by Florida Statue 117.05(5)(b)) a Florida notary public may rely on any of the following ten forms of identification if the identification has been issued within the past five years and bears a serial or other identifying number, or is current (whichever is longer):

  1. A Florida identification card or driver license issued by the public agency authorized to issue driver licenses
  2. A passport issued by the Department of State
  3. A passport issued by a foreign government if the document is stamped by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
  4. A driver license or an identification card issued by a public agency authorized to issue driver licenses in a state other than Florida or in a territory of the United States, or Canada or Mexico
  5. An identification card issued by any branch of the armed forces of the United States
  6. A veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  7. An inmate identification card issued on or after January 1, 1991, by the Florida Department of Corrections for an inmate who is in the custody of the department
  8. An inmate identification card issued by the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, for an inmate who is in the custody of the department
  9. A sworn, written statement from a sworn law enforcement officer that the forms of identification for an inmate in an institution of confinement were confiscated upon confinement and that the person named in the document is the person whose signature is to be notarized
  10. An identification card issued by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service

Are there any other acceptable forms of identification?

Florida notaries public may notarize a signature on a document if they personally know the signer. The term “personally knows” means having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual, which establishes the individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty.

In the event that the signer does not own acceptable identification and the notary does not have personal knowledge of their identity, the state authorizes an alternative called credible witness identification, using either a Single Credible Witness Affidavit or a Double Credible Witness Affidavit two alternatives; that is, using one of two sworn written statements of “credible witnesses.”

  • One credible witness is required when that person is known to both the signer and the notary
  • Two credible witnesses are required when neither one is known by the notary, but whose identities are proven to the notary public upon the presentation of satisfactory evidence

Credible witnesses are swearing that each of following is true:

  1. That the person whose signature is to be notarized is the person named in the document
  2. That the person whose signature is to be notarized is personally known to the witnesses
  3. That it is the reasonable belief of the witnesses that the circumstances of the person whose signature is to be notarized are such that it would be very difficult or impossible for that person to obtain another acceptable form of identification
  4. That it is the reasonable belief of the witnesses that the person whose signature is to be notarized does not possess any of the forms of identification specified above
  5. That the witnesses do not have a financial interest in nor are parties to the underlying transaction

What are my options if I am unable to provide an acceptable form of identification?

In Florida, if you cannot produce proper identification or credible witnesses for a notary to notarize your signature, your options become quite limited. Here are the potential steps you can take:

  1. Obtain the Required Identification: The most straightforward solution is to obtain the proper identification required by Florida law. This typically includes a state-issued driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a U.S. passport, or other government-issued photo ID.
  2. Use an Online Notary Service: Florida allows online notarizations. If you have difficulty providing ID in person, an online notary might offer alternative methods of verifying your identity. They may use knowledge-based authentication (KBA) or credential analysis, which might include answering personal questions based on your credit report. CJR Mobile Notary Services offers online notarizations as an option.
  3. Contact Local Authorities: If you lack identification, you might be able to get assistance from local government offices, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), to obtain an ID. Social services or legal aid organizations might also provide guidance and support in acquiring the necessary identification.
  4. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an attorney for further options. There might be legal mechanisms or alternative methods specific to your situation that can help verify your identity for notarization purposes.
  5. Certified Copies of Identification Documents: In some cases, having certified copies of previously issued identification documents may be acceptable. Check with the notary to see if this can be an alternative.

If none of these options work, you may need to wait until you can obtain proper identification or credible witnesses, as Florida law requires notaries to follow strict procedures to prevent fraud and ensure the integrity of the notarization process.

Overall, proper identification is essential for maintaining the integrity, trust, and legal compliance of the notarization process, ensuring that all parties involved can have confidence in the authenticity and legitimacy of the notarized documents.

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