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July 5, 2016

Credible Witnesses — The Process Explained

What is the process for using credible witnesses? First of all, not all states allow the use of credible witnesses.

Which states allow credible witnesses?

One Witness or Two?
Some states will allow the use of one credible witness that knows the Notary and also knows the signer. Other states require the use of two credible witnesses. You need to know your state law to know what your state allows.

Knowing the Signer
The next question is, how well does a credible witness need to know a signer in order to swear under Oath that they know that person as a particular name? Most credible witnesses know the person as Joe, and have no clue what the last name is. They are swearing under Oath to something they were verbally told at the time of the notarization and they don’t really know Joe that well. In my opinion, credible witnesses should not be legal unless there is more scrutinizing to see how well they know the signer and how they learned the signer’s name before they were told at the signing what the Notary wants the signer’s name to be. Perhaps the Notary should ask the witness what the signer’s name is rather than telling them.

Journal Requirements
Credible witnesses must SIGN the notary journal, but NOT in the signature section. They must sign in the notes section. The Signer signs the journal in the signature section — get that straight! The Notary should write down the name, address, and driver license number of the credible witness as well.

Finally, the Notary must administer an Oath to the credible witness(es) asking them to swear that the name of the signer is John Q Doe, etc.

The idea of having credible witnesses is the best thing that ever happened to the Notary profession. Using credible witnesses you can legally notarize a signer as Mickey Mouse or Ronald Reagan — and all without any form of identification. We recommend you take journal thumbprints of the signer for proof that the signer really is who they say they are just in case fraud is suspected. Most states do not require journal thumbprints, but take them anyway because you will get investigated one day — and perhaps by an investigator named Mickey Mouse.


You might also like:

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?

Credible Witnesses from A to Z



  1. In my journal, Ciati Notary Journal I have a checkbox for Witness/Credible Witness so I do not have them sign in the notes section which is missing in most notary journals.

    Comment by Margaret Paddock — July 11, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

  2. In Virginia you have to have two credible witnesses, but neither one of them needs to know the notary. I also copy their ID when I am functioning as a signing agent, and have them fill out my credible witness form. I can’t require them to do it, but I’ve never had anyone refuse to.

    Comment by Lisa A. Holliday — July 18, 2016 @ 4:57 pm

  3. It is important to note that this is a state-by-state issue. In Florida, you can ONLY use credible witnesses as a tool of last resort. 117.05(5)(b)(1) c & d reads:
    c. 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;
    d. That it is the reasonable belief of the witnesses that the person whose signature is to be notarized does not possess any of the identification documents specified in subparagraph 2.; and
    So just having an expired ID would not qualify, they need to go get a new one!

    Comment by John Axt — July 18, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

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