One of the first questions I ask someone requesting a document to be notarized is “do you have a proper ID?” In California the signer must identify themselves by using “Satisfactory Evidence.” Paper identification documents can be any of the following:
- Driver’s License or ID card issued by the California DMV
- Other California-approved ID card consisting of any one of the following, provided that it also contains a photograph, description of the person, signature of the person and an identifying number,
- A United States Passport
- A Passport issued by a foreign government, provided that it has been stamped by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
- Driver’s License issued by another state or by a Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses,
- An ID card issued by another state,
- U.S. Military ID card with the required photograph, description of the person, signature of the person and identifying number.
- An inmate ID card issued by the CA Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation, if the inmate is in custody,
- An employee ID card issued by an agency or office of the State of California or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California.
What if the signer has a driver’s license but it expired? A notary in California can accept an expired Driver’s License as long as it was issued less than 5 years ago. What happens if the signer doesn’t have any of the acceptable forms of ID listed above? The Secretary of State always has the answer to solve every problem when it comes to notarizing a document in California. The signers identity can be established by Credible Witnesses. Based on Civil Code section 1185(b)(1), a Credible Witness that knows the notary public and the signer can swear under oath the identity of the signer. If you don’t have a Credible Witness that knows a Notary Public you can still get this document notarized with TWO Credible Witnesses that can swear under oath and penalty of perjury the identity of the signer. Once the identity of the signer has been established the notary can perform their duties notarizing the document.
The key is to avoid being in this position of struggling to get a document notarized because you don’t have the proper identification.
- If your driver’s license is about to expire get it renewed ASAP. The California DMV will not forward mail. If your address changed since your last renewal of your license and you failed to notify the DMV don’t expect a renewal notice. Go to the DMV website: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/online/onlinesvcs.htm
- Get a California Identification Card. Why? If you ever lose your driver’s license a California ID may be your only hope for getting a document notarized, getting on an airplane, completing an application for a passport and what if you get arrested for a DUI? The arresting officer takes your driver’s license in California. I can go on and on why having a California ID is a lifesaver when you need a government issued ID.
- Keep names and phone numbers handy of friends that can be “Credible Witnesses” should you ever lose your driver’s license, passport or other document acceptable for establishing your identity for a notary public.