Categories

Notarizing for Signers who Cover their Faces


As a public officer, a notary cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or religion. However, unintentional discrimination may arise when a woman who covers her face for religious reasons requests your notarial services. When this circumstance occurs, a notary must always act with the utmost caution to ensure that he or she does not discriminate but also follows the law. For this reason, notaries should always consult their own state's laws on matters concerning identification of persons with covered faces.


You must always ensure that the signer appearing before you is the person described on the identification presented. If this person's face is visible on his or her driver license photo, you must be able to see it to positively ID the individual. You may explain that the law requires you to confirm visually that this person matches the identification he or she provides. If signers are ever uncomfortable with showing their face to you, you may want to suggest that they seek the services of a notary they personally know.

If the identification depicts the signer with a covered face, the notary must still confirm the identity of the signer. The notary should be able to reasonably conclude that the person appearing before him or her is the person who is named in the document requiring notarization. If the notary is uncomfortable with this transaction, the notary could politely tell the parties that he or she isn't able to proceed due to a lack of positive identification.

To protect yourself, you should follow best notary practices, such as making a detailed entry in your record book that outlines the reasons you declined to notarize the document. This will help you jog your memory if you are ever questioned about this notarization.

As always, be sure to consult your state's notary laws or notary commissioning authority for specific information pertinent to your state regarding notarizing for signers with covered faces.

By Robert T. Koehler, a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries, Inc.

Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.