Should Mobile Notaries Accept Foreign IDs?

There are around 47 million people in the US coming from other countries. That’s almost 15% of the whole US population. So, there is a good chance you’ll encounter a person with a foreign ID when notarizing signatures. The question is: can you accept such a document as a valid identification tool.

What Do the Regulations State?

The general standard of practice is to accept foreign IDs meeting specific requirements. That includes being issued by a government agency, having a recent photo, including personal information and signature. However, not all documents have all these elements.

Here are the most common foreign documents you can encounter.

Foreign Passports

Passports are the standard identification document for every person coming to the US. They include a photo, personal info, and signatures, which is why mobile notaries can accept them as valid identification documents. However, you still need to follow the state regulations and requirements. For instance, some states like Nebraska, Georgia, New Mexico, Florida, and Tennessee require a passport stamped by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. So, the involved party must obtain the stamp before you can identify them and notarize their signature. Other states like Utah, Iowa, South Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, North Dakota, or Montana don’t require stamped passports. Some even accept expired passports for identification purposes, as long as the expiration date is not over three years before the day of signing. Since the requirements vary by state, always make sure to check them beforehand, as some states like California have stricter standards for foreign passports.

Foreign National IDs, Driver Licences, and Other Documents

Other documents are usually not accepted by state laws, except for a few IDs. For instance, California allows driver’s licenses from Mexico and Canada, but they must have a photo, serial number, physical description, and signature. Arizona accepts any document recognized by the US Department of Homeland Security showing one’s legal presence in the US. In addition, many states have regulations that don’t specifically talk about accepting foreign documents. They usually have a list of requirements for any ID. So, check your state’s notary handbook for specific regulations. You shouldn’t accept foreign documents if they are in a language you don’t understand. Don’t rely on third-party translations either. We now have tools to help us translate these documents quickly, but you can decide whether you want to use them. Sometimes it is best not to complicate things.

What if the Signer Has No Identification?

Some states allow you to rely on one or two witnesses even if the signer has no ID. The role of the witness is to vouch for the person signing, and they must know them personally. The witness must be present at the moment of signing and take an oath of confirmation that a signer is who they claim they are.

This process can be performed regardless of nationality or immigration status. However, you should still check before the actual signing to confirm you are following all regulations.