What to do when seniors do not have current IDs?

In California, the signer/principal for a notarized signature must present acceptable IDs (specific list of IDs approved by the CA Secretary of State). As a mobile notary, I travel to the signers to meet them at their homes, rehab and skilled nursing facilities, or hospitals. For various obvious reasons, many seniors do not have an acceptable ID (current or issued within the last 5 years).

Fortunately, the State allows two alternative methods to notarize signers who don’t have acceptable documents for identification:

1. The signer’s identify can be established by the oath of a single credible witness whom the notary personally knows, or

2. Oaths of two credible witnesses whom the notary public does not personally know

When using credible witnesses, the identify of the credible witnesses must be established by presentation of identification documents with satisfactory evidence for identifying the witnesses. Under oaths, the credible witnesses must swear or affirm under the penalty of perjury that

  • The signer is the person named in the document

  • The credible witness personally knows the signer

  • The credible witness believes that given the circumstances of the signer are in, it’s very difficult or impossible for the signer to obtain another acceptable form of identification

  • The signer does not possess any of identification documents authorized by law to establish the signer’s identity

  • The credible witness does not have a financial interest and is not named in the document signed

The above information can be found from the California Secretary of State 2018 Notary Public Handbook under the Identification section (page 8).

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Common Notary Certificates in California