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October 13, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Identification

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As a Notary Public, the most important thing you do is to identify a signer. Different states have different rules for what identification document you can use and how someone is to be identified. If a Notary fails to do a good job identifying a signer, that Notary can quickly end up in court as a witness or defendant. In my opinion if you don’t do a good job identifying signers, you might as well not be a Notary Public.

Identification Documents & Characteristics
Commonly accepted ID’s include passports, driver’s licenses, state issued ID cards, military ID’s. Green cards (permanent resident cards) are not necessarily allowed, so look that one up in your handbook. As a rule, an acceptable ID must be:

Current — (there are exceptions in California, Tennessee and perhaps other states that allow the ID to be issued within five years even if it is expired.)

Government Issued — Some Notaries think that a signature affidavit or gas bill is a good secondary form of ID, but those are not government issued and you don’t know what the source of the information for the names on them are.

Photo ID — An acceptable ID should have a photo. I do not think that many states allow social security cards as secondary identifications. However, you can look that up in your handbook.

Physical Description — the ID would say your height, eye color, etc.

Serial Number — the ID should have a number such as A58362D.

Expiration Date — the ID should have an expiration date somewhere. Normally there is an issue date as well somewhere.

Signature — the signature on the ID is important because you will need to compare that to the one in your journal and on the document made by the same person.



Different states have different rules for what the name on the ID should say relative to the name on the document. Some states do not require the names to match. Others require that the Notary be reasonably sure that the person in the ID and the person on the document are the same person. Reasonably sure is a wishy-washy term. You can never be 100% sure it is the same person because ID’s can be falsified and there could be multiple people with the same name as well as multiple people who look similar to each other. Identifying humans is easier than identifying squirrels, but there can still be confusion. The name on the document’s signature must be provable to the name on the ID, otherwise it would be questionable and risky to notarize that signature.



When you do a Notary act, you ask for the signer’s identification. You record that information in your journal and you keep a journal whether your state requires it or not as that is your only evidence in court. You compare the name on the ID to the name on the document. If the name on the document is not provable based on the ID then you are advised to decline the notarization, especially if it is for a Deed. Here is a summary of the ID and acknowledgment notarization process.

(1) Ask for ID.
(2) Record ID information in journal
(3) Have signer(s) sign your journal and the document(s)
(4) Compare the name in the document to the name on the ID. Make sure the name on the document is provable based on the ID.
(5) Make sure the signature in the journal, document and ID all match.
(6) Fill out the certificate, sign and seal.

Examples of provability in ID
ID says John Smith — document says John W Smith…. name is NOT provable.
ID says John W Smith — document says John W Smith… name is provable
ID says John William Smith — document says John W Smith… name is provable based on the ID.



Keep an eye out for fake ID’s. There are guide books that can yelp you identify a false identification. If there is peeling lamination or the signature is above the lamination then it is fake. You can ask the signer what his sign is or what his birthday or height is. If he does not know his sign or birthday based on the ID, then his ID is fake. If he does know his sign that is great, but does not prove the ID is real.



If you value your life, ask for journal thumbprints. They can keep you out of court. People might complain about being asked to be thumbprinted as it can seem like an invasion of privacy and a hassle — but a thumbprint is the only way an investigative agency can have a paper trail leading to an arrest of an identity thief. Thumbprints are the only unique form of identification a Notary can use at this point in time. No two thumbprints are alike, and they cannot be forged at a Notary appointment unless they wear a latex thumbprint on their thumb which would be easily detectable.


You might also like:
Is it legal to photo copy a military ID?


October 19, 2013

Notarized Document Expired Identification

Filed under: Identification For Being Notarized — admin @ 8:18 am

Using expired identification cards

As a notary public, you will be bombarded with various types of identification — some will be current, some expired, some foreign, and some forged.

Expired ID? Check the issue date!
Some states allow an ID to be used for a particular number of years after the issue date. Many identification cards will document the issue date somewhere on the ID even if they don’t say what that date is. You can kind of guess what that date represents because it is not their birth date or expiration date. Using expired identification cards might be legal in particular states. California and Tennessee allow a notary to use an ID within five years of its origination date / date of issue.

Check your state’s notary handbook to find out the current laws in your state regarding what types of identification are legitimate in your state! Using expired ID cards just might be okay just as long as they are not “too old”.

If you cannot get identification that is acceptable in your state, many states allow the use of credible witnesses that can swear to the identity of the signer. Those witnesses are normally friends, relatives, hall mates, or neighbors of the signer.

You might also like:

What’s your sign? A technique for spotting false ID.

Credible Witnesses – the ins and outs

Notary Public 101 – Identification


February 17, 2013

Identification requirements for being notarized

Do you need to see a notary public sometime soon? Are you going to get some critical documents notarized? Don’t be afraid, this is easy! However, there are a few things that you must know.

(1) The notary public is required by law to check your identification. Certain types of identification are generally acceptable such as current driver’s licenses, state issued identification cards, passports,etc. As a general rule, if an identification is a current government issued photo-ID with a physical description, signature, and serial number, it should be good for a notary public to use. Make sure that your signature on the identification matches the one that you use on the document.

(2) Your name on the document must match the name on the identification. However, if your name on the document is shorter than the name on the identification, that is fine. If your ID says John J Smith, and on the document, you are named as John Smith, you are okay. If the name on the document is longer than the name in the identification, the notary public can not legally notarize that longer name variation.

(3) Some states require the notary public to thumbprint you for Deeds affecting real property and Powers of Attorney. It is painless (when I do it).

(4) The notary can not legally choose the type of notarization for you to get. Please have your decisions of whether to get an Oath, Acknowledgment, Jurat, or something else worked out before you see your notary.

(5) Most states require the document signer to sign the notary’s journal as well as signing the document. The notary should also record your identification information in their journal.

(6) Jurats require the signer to swear under oath. Please be cooperative about raising your right hand when you swear under oath.

(7) Mobile notaries charge a travel fee, and can charge waiting fees if you keep them waiting. Please be on time and respect their time and fees. specializes in mobile notaries.

(8) If the signer doesn’t have acceptable identification, please consult an attorney. Please be aware that inmates in jail do not have identification on their person other than their wristbands which is completely unacceptable as notary identification.

Good luck, and find a great notary public on!!!

(1) Your name on the document must match your name on the identification when notarized.
(2) Acceptable notary identification must be government issued, photo, serial #, exp. date, etc.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Identification

Signature Name Affidavit: Not a substitute for an ID

When ID and documents have different names

What’s your sign?


January 18, 2011

Notarizing For a Minor — Identification!

It is not that common to notarize the signature of a minor, but at some point you might be asked to. A minor who needs to be notarized must be positively identified just like everyone else even thought their signature is not legally binding. But, if you need a notary for a minor — what type of identification can they get? The DMV can issue them a state ID card if they are not licensed to drive yet. If they are old enough to drive, you could get a drivers license. Another possibility is to go to the Post Office and apply for a passport which is another acceptable type of identification for being notarized. One benefit of passports is that they are valid for ten years while state issued ID’s are generally only good for four or five years!

So, if you are asked to notarize a minor, you can give the parents a tutorial about acceptable types of identification for their benefit! And remember — when notarizing a minor, please document in your journal that the signer is under 18 — and you might also document their exact age as well! Be professional when you do an “underage notarization”! Do it right!


June 22, 2021

A RON signing that took too long

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 9:48 am

We had a lady customer who did a RON signing. It took 45 minutes using Pavaso. Most of the time was used using the identification software.

The client found her through a builder that knew her as a Notary, and the customer was a client of the builder in Minnesota.

Another Notary I talked to does online notarizations and has customers around the world in places such as Dubai, Germany, etc. But, she had a lot of technical issues particularly with cameras and her signing took several hours.

Some people who do RON signings who are familiar with the software and don’t have a problem with their computer or the app or platform get RON signings done quickly. But, for people who don’t do it regularly, it is easy to have trouble. My suggestion is don’t become a Remote Online Notary unless you really love technology and not seeing people face to face and intend to take the profession very seriously. It seems to not work out well for those who are just doing it on the side.


June 4, 2021

RON — did you invest more than you made in revenue?

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 10:44 am

The field of RON or Remote Online Notarizations is an unstable one. I have met many Notaries who do it, and a few who even like it. Some get tons of business, others get a job once in a blue moon, and many get nothing.

The costs of being a RON are hundreds and a lot of work. You need to get commissioned, perhaps get an online journal, and software, and approvals from the various platforms or agencies that deal with RON identification and other processes such as Pavaso and about six other popular options.

With Coronavirus abounding, people thought there would be more of a demand for RON. Many state governors made abrupt executive orders allowing it, and there were changes in legislation in various states (I don’t know the details) allowing more online notarizations.

Whether or not RON is secure, or whether you can identify people sufficiently was not much of a concern for the politicians. Their goal was to find yet another way to keep you at home. It’s like Yakov Smirnoff’s comedic commercial for Russian Express Card.

American Express Card — Don’t leave home without it
Russian Express Card — Don’t leave home…. ever…

How much work you get as a RON might depend on whether or not there is a virus. It also depends on how the culture adapts to new technology. People overseas who need an American Notary have to use it. Most of the clients for RON are in Dubai, London, Berlin, Israel, Italy, China, or some foreign place (that often has some sort of really long wall).

Worth it or not?
If you like dealing with all of the computer technology and think it’s cool, in the long run it might work for you if you can figure out how to market yourself. For others who are doing it just for the money, the money is not there yet, so don’t do it unless you can’t live without it.

People on 123notary who list that they are a RON get a lot more clicks. It is impressive and lets the world know you go above and beyond what the average Notary does.


May 24, 2021

Notary Pit Stop

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — admin @ 1:39 am

Let’s imagine that a very important person would need to get their Notary work done in a hurry. I have notarized for directors, company presidents and other busy people. They have time to come in the room, sign and leave. They normally don’t even give you time to look at the identification. So here is my idea.

Two Notaries work as a tag team notarization outfit. They visit the VIP’s office.

Notary #1 looks at the ID and inscribes the necessary information in the journal.
Notary #2 fills out the certificates, staples them to the forms. Then,
Notary #1 gets the VIP to sign the journal.
Notary #2 gets the VIP to sign the document.
Notary #1 hands the ID to
Notary #2 to verify that the signature on the ID matches the signature on the document. Notary #2 returns the ID to the signer and then
Notary #1 stamps the document’s certificate

Q.Why doesn’t Notary #2 stamp the actual certificate?
A. Because they are using Notary #1’s journal

Q. Why doesn’t Notary #1 throw a chair at Notary #1?
A. Because they are on the same team

Q. Why doesn’t Notary #2 throw a chair at the signer?
A. Because the signer is paying them

Q. Do they have pit stop outfits or tag team wrestling outfits?
A. Probably not, but they could if that was their theme.

Q. Does the signer have to wear a helmet?
A. That’s probably a bad idea.

Q. Who collects the money?
A. Notary #2 because Notary #1 is too busy stamping

Q. Can you bring sound effects of a real Indy 500 race?
A. That would definitely add to the experience.


April 13, 2021

The “It can be more but not less” rule

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 6:26 am

Don’t learn this rule. It is interpreted backwards as often as it is interpreted correctly, or scrambled completely.

BAD RULE: “It can be more but not less” rule.
APPLICATION: You can SIGN more but not less…
QUESTION: More but not less than WHAT?
More but not less than what it says on the ID or the document?

This stupid quick rule does not elaborate what you can sign more than and also misses a very critical point. If you cannot prove the name on the document using a photo ID, then you are taking a huge risk as a Notary.

Different states have different standards for identification. Georgia requires you to look at the ID but doesn’t mention whether the ID should match (might be outdated information, but that was what I read a few years ago.) California requires the name on the document to be proven based on the ID and also requires thumbprints for powers of attorney and deeds affecting real property (smart move.) But, regardless of the state, taking precautions and keeping thorough records can keep you out of court and shorten the length of investigations.

BAD RULE: “You can always sign more.”
Don’t use rules that leave ambiguities otherwise you will miss critical points due to an omission in the logical process.

JEREMY’S RULE: “The ID must prove the name on the document.”
Interpretation: The name on the ID can be matching and identical or matching but longer than the name typed in the signature section of the document. Additionally, the name you put in the Acknowledgment section should be provable based on the ID. It is possible to put a shorter name on the Acknowledgement than the name signed or printed on the document.

If the ID says John Smith
But, the document printed name says John W Smith
You could notarize this person as John Smith even if the person signs John W Smith.
Would the title company get mad at you? Would the county recorder record the notarization? Not sure, but at least you would not be breaking notary law by notarizing this way!

JEREMY’S RULE #2: “You can sign more than how the name is printed in the signature section, but not less.”
COMMENT: This is a more elaborate and thorough version of the more but not less rule. If you memorize incomplete rules, you will make logic mistakes and could end up in court as a consequence. It doesn’t happen often, but it could eventually. Why take chances and why be a bad notary? Understand all of the aspects of notarization and yes — it is a lot more complicated than you thought and requires intricate thinking.


April 12, 2021

10 things you need to know as a Signing Agent

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 7:28 am

Most people are confused when they begin their career as a Notary signing agent. They don’t know what they need to learn or do, or how to get clients. Those in the business for many years have the opposite problem. They think they know everything while they know very little — at least when I test them. Here is what I think Notaries should learn and how to learn it.

1. Be a good Notary. What does that entail?
You need to know the rules for each notary act and how to fill out forms. You also need to know how to administer Oaths correctly and few Notaries do this well or take it seriously. You can lose your commission if a judge finds out you didn’t give an Oath on any particular Affidavit, Jurat or sworn statement that you notarized. It is easy to learn how to do this, but few make it their business to know their job. Read your state’s notary manual regularly. You can also read blogs from NNA, 123notary or other Notary agencies. But, your state notary division is gospel, and the agencies are sometimes wrong — so treat their information as commentary. Keeping a journal is also imperative, because when you are in court, and 15% of serious Notaries end up before a judge sooner or later, your journal is your only evidence. The more thoroughly you keep your journal, the happier the judge will be with you. If you identify someone incorrectly or carelessly you might be empowering an imposter to steal a house from someone or commit fraud. We teach all of these points on our blog on Notary Public 101.

Summary of point 1.
Understanding All applicable Notary Acts, Identification procedures, Journal procedure, and Oaths are the bedrock of being a good Notary.

2. Understand The Right to Cancel
Residential owner occupied Refinances typically have a Right to Rescind document. Understanding how to date this document properly is not rocket science, but experienced Notaries flake and goof and get the dates wrong when I test them on a regular basis. It is not rocket sciencem, and no, the NASA website doesn’t cover this, it is a matter of counting to three and not counting Sundays or Federal Holidays.

3. Understand FAQ’s about loan signing.
When is my first payment due?
Where is my rate, APR?
Do I have a prepayment penalty and where is it?
Where are my closing costs and fees itemized?
Do I have to send a check or other documents not included in the package?
How long can I read my borrower’s copies before rescinding
How do I cancel my loan?

Many Notaries feel that they need to be experts at all of the documents. As a general rule, you should know the difference between the Correction Agreement LPOA and a Compliance Agreement, although there are so many variations in these documents that they are all different and you have to read each one — but, being familiar and knowledgeable about these document variations pays off as this is a FAQ that people are concerned about. Most loan signing courses go over this information and you should memorize this as people at signings will ask about it.

4. Understanding Reverse Mortgages, TRID, Helocs, Purchases, etc.
LSS’s course seems to do the best job teaching these types of loans (or documents) that are new in popularity over the last few years. Most signing courses were written ten or twenty years ago when Reverse Mortgages either didn’t exist or were not a popular item. Since as a Notary, you are not allowed to explain the terms of a person’s loan, but only allowed to help signers find information within the loan, it is NOT critical to understand these loans or documents, but make you look good if you did. So consider point four to be a plus, but not a necessity.

5. Explain or don’t explain
In our various blog courses we go over point by point what a Notary should explain or not explain. The 30 point course discusses this in detail. This is critical because otherwise you might get yourself in trouble talking about what you have no business of talking about. Or you might talk about something you know nothing about. Or, you might not answer a question which you should know the answer and express the answer about. Boy, this is complicated.

6. How to find new clients
There are many ways. We write about this in the marketing section of our blog, but you might have to scroll.

7. How to background screen clients
Not all clients are pleasant or pay on time. Use the 123notary or Notary Rotary forum to see which companies are worth working for. Please be informed that in the last two years there has been a drastic decline in forum commentary on our forum and on NotaryRotary’s, although theirs is much more well trafficked than ours. There is less quantity of reliable information about the various signing companies. But, still do your research.

8. How to collect from clients
Some people don’t pay on time, so you have to know how to keep records, how to bill people, and how to threaten them the right way if they keep you waiting for payment. We go over this in our courses.

9. Where to learn about general information
You should read the various blogs out there. NNA and 123notary have interesting blogs where you can learn and source information from antiquated entries on particular topics.

10. How to handle tricky situations
In Notary Public 101 we go over many sticky situations and explain how to think about them and how to handle them. Understanding this content makes you a more confident, trustworthy and safe Notary! It’s like a vaccine made out of knowledge!

Further Reading
As a general rule, I recommend getting certified by various entities, not just one. I recommend Notary Public 101 and the 30 Point Course in our blog as well as reading our blog articles about marketing and notarial issues in particular. LSS offers a very practical course that is more sensitive to what is going on in the industry now. Notary2Pro seems to churn out the best trained Notaries of any certification. 123notary has the hardest certification test and passing it will prove yourself better than the other certifications.


January 7, 2021

A step by step guide to RON

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:56 pm

I am watching more videos on RON to try to learn more.

There are different types of portals. Some portals farm out work to you and pay you once a day or so. One lady made $5 per notarization, but got a lot of quantity providing she was quick on the draw when jobs were dispatched or made available.

Other portals allow you to bring your own clients from wherever you found them, or clients your boss gave you. There are also portals where you can bring your own clients or notarize theirs for a cut of the total money. Here are some of the specifications and steps involved.

(1) You need an online commission (not all states allow this)

(2) You need an online seal

(3) IDENTIFICATION. The portals will verify the signer’s identity by seeing a photo of the front and back of their ID and also by asking them questions based on their credit information that supposedly only they (or a really good identity thief) would know.

(4) PAYMENT. The Portal will have a system to input the signer’s credit card information.

(5) THE DOCUMENT. The Notary can start the session after the ID and credit card have been inputted. The notary will see a video of themselves and the signer. The notary can enlarge or turn the ID using tools and compare it to the signer. The signer can also see the Notary’s information. Both parties can see the document on your computer.

(6) SIGNING. The signer can fill in the blanks and sign and date the document from here on. The signature can be drawn, typed or a scan can be used. The Notary can then fill in the venue, certificate wording, and then sign and seal the document.

(7) Last, you can click the complete the session button.

Some portals charge to get set up, while others like OneNotary do not charge up front for Notaries to get started with them.

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