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April 17, 2012

What is a credible witness notary or notarization?

What is a credible witness notary or credible witness notarization? 

There is no such thing as a credible witness notary.  Credible Witnesses are individuals who are willing to swear to the identity of another individual who is signing a document in the presence of a notary public.  The notary who is notarizing a signature may not act as a credible identifying witness.  However, some states allow a notary to identify a signer based on personal knowledge which is similar in nature (but not terminology) to being a Credible Witness.
 
There is also no such thing as a credible witness notarization.  However, you could refer to a notarization as one that uses credible witnesses.  Credible identifying witnesses should not be used unless a proper identification document is not available.  Please also keep in mind that many credible witnesses these days do not know the full name of whomever’s identity they are swearing to.  For the sake of integrity, you might want to ask the proposed credible witness, “What is this man’s full name?”. If they say, “Joe?”, and then shrug their shoulders, then perhaps they don’t know Joe as well as they should to be a credible identifying witness.

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Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
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Oath of two credible witnesses
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Subscribing witnesses and Signature by X
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2278

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January 8, 2011

Credible Witnesses from A to Z

Credible Witnesses from A to Z
 
What is a credible witness?
A credible witness, “CW”, or credible identifying witness is someone who can identify a signer at a notary signing.  The credible witness must know the signer and must know the signer’s name.  The witness should know the signer by having met many times in the past through different individuals.  Some states require that the credible witness always knows the notary as well, to create a chain of relationships, while others only require that the credible witness knows the notary if only one credible witness is used.  The credible witness should be an impartial party who does not have beneficial interest in the document
 
Which states allow the use of credible witnesses?
Many states allow credible witnesses, and we documented these states on a forum post
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4047.  To summarize: Virginia is a state that does not allow credible witnesses.  Most other states that we have information about do allow credible witnesses.
 
States that allow 1 Credible Witness
How many credible witnesses do you need to use in various states? What are the credible witness rules?
Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and several other states allow the use of one CW that must be known to the notary, and must know the signer. 
 
States that allow 1 or 2 Credible Witnesses
California, Florida, and Georgia, among other states, allow the use of one CW if the witness is known to the notary and knows the signer; or two CW’s if the notary doesn’t know either of the witnesses.  These states are unique in that they offer a choice of using one or two credible witnesses.
 
States that allow 2 Credible Witnesses
Tennessee and Missouri allow the use of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.
 
Procedure
Credible Witness Rules can vary from state to state, but as a general rule, you should not use a credible witness unless there is no identification available.  In many cases, the identification available will have a different name variation on it, making it unacceptable to be used when signing documents that have a longer, or different name variation. Whether or not its legal to use credible witnesses in this type of situation is something to look up in your state’s notary manual.
 
The credible witness must SIGN the notary’s journal in California. Rules vary from state to state, so be knowledgeable about your particular state’s rules. The CW must raise their right hand and swear to the identity of the signer.  The CW must also have acceptable identification.  It is wise for the notary to record the CW’s address, ID#, and phone number in their journal. 
 
Common Uses
If a notary is doing a jail signing, inmates never have acceptable ID on them unless a visitor brings it.  When doing a jail signing, an attorney, relative, or friend of the inmate will normally meet you. Make sure they are going to bring the inmate’s ID and that the ID is current and state issued.
 
Hospital signings involve signers who are too elderly to drive in many instances.  These folks often don’t have current identification making the use of CW’s necessary.
 
If you notarize someone who lost their ID, or doesn’t have one becase they don’t drive, you might need credible witnesses. 
 
If the name variation on the document is slightly different from the name on the ID, you might check your state notary manual to see if using a credible witness in this situation is allowed.
 
Issues
A few notaries on our Facebook network have pointed out that many loan signings should not be done using credible witnesses.  One notary in Pennsylvania stated that for loans that require USA Patriot Act ID verification, credible witnesses should not be used.  Another notary in Florida points out that the CW is swearing to the fact that the signer does not have the acceptable identification documents and that it is difficult or impossible to find such documents.

Credible Witness Notary
There is no such thing as a credible witness notary, however you can be a notary that uses credible witnesses.  Just make sure you know how many credible witnesses to use.
 
Summary
After being a notary public in California for eight years, I found that 15% of my signings would not have been possible without the use of credible witnesses, among other “Plan B” type procedures.  Many notaries try to get through their career learning as little as possible about what they need to know to get the job done.  You will be letting future clients down if you are not an expert at credible witness procedures for your particular state.  You could be letting countless clients go high and dry if you don’t know this procedure. Please consult your state’s notary manual to learn exactly what all of the CW requirements (credible witness notary rules) are for your state.

You might also like:

Credible Witnesses – the process explained
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Credible Witness Scenarios
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Credible Witnesses – the ins and outs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19634

Forum string: Credible Witnesses – the basics

Can a notary be a witness?

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November 30, 2010

CW’s When ID and Docs Have Different Names

Credible Witness Discussions on the Forum

Here are some excerpts for discussions about credible witnesses on our forum. Please remember that many states require the signature of a credible witness in your journal and that roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses to identify a signer. Its a great idea to also record the identification information on credible witnesses as well as getting a phone number recorded just in case. Don’t forget to administer your oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear that the person in front of them is Jimmy Doe! These commentaries are taken from a forum post. Please feel free to scroll to the bottom and click on the link to see the original post.

Use of CW’s when ID and Document have different names

Larry Said:
It has been suggested that credible witnesses would be an appropriate method to establish the idenity of a signer when the docs had the name printed as James Doe, and they had to be signed that way, and the drivers license the borrower presented had the name Jimmy Doe. My take on this is that credible witnesses could NOT be used but that reasonable reliance on the drivers license photo, description and signature match would allow me to notarize the signature as James Doe. Am I wrong here? I’m in California.

Deborah Bond Said:
 I have had this exact situation previously. I was lucky. Docs as James, ID as JIMMY. I asked for additional id and was handed Passport, Social and birth certificate and was shocked to find Passport said Jimmy, Social James and Birth James…Hence I had plenty of info stating Jimmy was James.

I did not get copies of all this but called my contact LO and advised of name issue and that LEGALLY his name was JAMES but 1/2 ID said Jimmy and they wanted copy of the DL…which had the wrong name. Per the LO his ID Affidavit showed both names when we were done and on the copy of the drivers lic we had him state that is is known as Jimmy and had him sign as James…

Now if he had not the additional id’s I would have had to adjourn because in Massachusetts CW are not a viable option. CW needs to be known to both the NOTARY (highly unlikely) and the person being id’d. The chance of that is slim. I liken it to asking my neighbor Bob (who I know) to ID another neighbor Chris who I know but has no ID. Chance is unlikely that would EVER happen.

Joe Ewing Said:
You are correct Larry but Jimmy goes on the Acknowledgment. The AKA statement that the signer signs under oath would have him signing as Jimmy and James. Credible witnesses when told that they must swear under penalty of purgery (a felony) punishable by 2-4 years in prison that their neighbor goes by a nickname will generally refuse to cooperate and rightly so.

I have used credible identifying witnesses on many occasions. When the signer has an expired ID or no ID at all a credible witness is necessary to establish the current identity of the signer without satisfactory ID.

* Missuse of credible witnesses by Notary Signing Agents

The credible witness codes were NOT created to determine the correct spelling, the presence of a middle name, whether the signer is a junior or a nick name is the real name. When a signer has a current acceptable ID that shows a slightly different spelling of the signers name that is printed on a set of loan docs, it is not appropriate to call two neighbors into a notarization to swear (a felony) not to someones identity but that the signer is actually a junior or that Joe is actually Joseph. That act by the notary in itself is inapproriate.

You (NOTARY) are looking at a picture, a description and a signature. It is the Notarys duty to make a resonable determination as to the identity of the signer based on that current satisfactory ID presented to him. If the notary is unable to do that then the notary should resign his commission. 

Shannon Said:
Joe, I’m concerned that you seem to be indicating that there is somehow some discretion by the notary on whether to notarize. I prefer to rely on what is more black or white. The ID is going to be what the ID is….I would never feel comfortable with a name that is even partially different. Although I can’t quote exact statute, I seem to recall that credible witnesses are not to be used for “convenience of the signer” for example: If the signer left his ID across town…..       Any thoughts on this?

.

You might also like:

Credible witnesses – the ins and the outs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19634

Credible witnesses – the process explained
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16695

Notary Public 101 – a comprehensive course about Notary work.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19493

Identification for being Notarized
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19507

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