Are Credible Witness(es) Affidavits an Acceptable Form of Identification?

What can notaries do when a person who needs his or her signature notarized but does not have or cannot obtain acceptable identification? What type of people may not have or cannot obtain acceptable forms of identification?

In Florida, the law allows notaries to use two other methods for identification: the sworn written statement(s) of a credible witness or of two credible witnesses. What is the difference, do you ask? Well, let’s see.

  1. The Sworn Written Testimony of a Credible Witness: In this case, a witness has to not only personally know the signer but also has to be personally know by the notary and make a sworn written statement.
  2. The Sworn Written Testimony of Two Credible Witnesses: In this case, they have to know personally the signer and be able to produce acceptable identification and make sworn written statements.

Although this method is allowed by law, it should be used with caution and sparingly, and it does not trample the presence requirement (the person whose signature will be notarized must be present.) Some people, like the elderly, minors, or a person with a disability, does not have or cannot obtain acceptable identification so notaries may use this as an alternative method. It should not be used for convenience! As with any other special circumstance, notaries can refuse to notarize if they wish.

If using any of these two methods available, notaries should ask the witness(es) to sign the document being notarized and the record journal as well. If there is space on the same document, print the statements on it; if on a separate paper, notaries should keep it as a record and not attach it to the document. The notarial certificate should indicate the type of identification used, i.e., the sworn written statement of a (two) credible witness(es): name(s). Moreover, the manual states that these forms may be used in these unusual circumstances and are merely suggestions. Any affidavit containing the statutorily required information would be sufficient.

FL Governor’s Reference Manual for Notaries – More About Identification – Credible Witness Affidavits p.33

by Alessandra Gomes

On My Way FL Notary S.A.