Credible Witness for Notary Signings—Everything You Need To Know
Notarization is a complicated process, and it is perfectly understandable not to know everything. Before serving as a human ID card for someone getting their documents notarized, you should learn what the responsibilities of a credible identifying witness are.
In this article, you can find answers to all the questions you might have about what being a credible witness in a notary identification process entails.
What Is a Credible Witness?
Before notarizing a document, a notary public must verify the identity of the signer by checking their ID card, passport, or driver’s license. When the signer is unable to provide a government-issued identification document, an impartial party can vouch for their identity. This person is referred to as the credible identifying witness.
To serve as a credible witness, a person has to:
- Know the signer personally
- Be sane, aware, truthful, and impartial
- Take an oath or affirmation to vouch for the identity of the signer
- Sign the notary’s record
Some states also require the credible identifying witness to provide a state-approved identification document of their own.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Credible Witness?
Besides attesting to the signer’s identity, a credible witness must swear that the signer is unable to get hold of their identification documents easily.
The complete list of responsibilities of the credible witness is much longer. A credible witness has to swear that:
- The signer of the document personally present before the notary and the individual whose name is in the document are the same person
- They personally know the signer
- The signer is not in possession of any of the government-issued identification documents
- There is a reasonable explanation why it’s difficult or impossible for the signer to acquire any other form of identification
- They don’t have a financial interest or any kind of benefit in the process
- They are not named as a beneficiary in the document that is being signed
What Situations Call for a Credible Witness?
Various circumstances can justify the use of a credible witness:
- The signer lost their ID and hasn’t been able to replace it yet
- The ID has expired
- The signer is hospitalized or lives in a nursing home or another assisted living facility, not being able to renew their ID
- Notarization is performed in jail, and the signer cannot provide identification
Can a Family Member Serve as a Credible Witness?
Generally speaking, yes, but it depends on the case. If a family member has a financial gain from the transaction or receives something valuable, they cannot serve as a credible witness. States have different laws regarding credible identifying witnesses, so it’s best to check with a public official from your state to be sure.
Credible Identifying Witness—Specific Requirements
Most states that accept credible witnesses as a method of identification apply the same rules to every notary service. Whether you’re getting documents notarized by a regular, mobile, online, or electronic notary, you should get to know the requirements in your state first, especially if you choose remote online notarization (RON) and an out-of-state notary.
Some states have specific credible witness guidelines. Read more about those rules in the following table to avoid unpleasant surprises:
|State||Credible Witness Guidelines|
Credible Witnesses in Remote Online Notarization
Remote notaries use various communication platforms to perform notarization online instead of in person. Sometimes, an unstable internet connection can lead to poor video quality, making it understandable why so many states require some other method of identification besides showing an ID over the webcam. RON identification methods include:
- Personal knowledge
- Credible identifying witnesses
- The multi-part identity verification process
The state where your online notary is located determines the rules regarding the number of credible witnesses and other requirements.
To learn more about RON and schedule an appointment with an online notary anywhere in the U.S., !
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