Back to My Account / Member Center / Q&A

To view the FAQs, please pick a state by selecting one from the dropdown menu above in the header.

Personally Known


Do all states allow their notaries to use “personally known” to verify the identity of a signer?

No. The notary statutes in some states do not authorize their notaries public to use “personally known” to verify the identity of a signer.

Is the best method to verify the identity of a signer the “personally known” method?

If your state notary laws do not prohibit notaries public from using “personal knowledge” to establish the identity of a signer, personal knowledge can be the easiest form of identification since it does not require any identification documents or witnesses.

When a certificate states, “Personally Known ___ or Produced ________ as Identification,” which do I check?

The notary public must indicate which method form of identification was used to establish the identity of the signer. If the notary verified the identity of the signer by personal knowledge, the notary puts a check mark next to the “personally known” space. If the signer was identified through a state or federal issued identification card, the notary indicates what form of identification document was used on the space next to the word “Produced.” For example: Produced state driver’s license.

My client introduced me to his cousin recently. Can I consider the client’s cousin personally known to notarize his signature?

No. A notary public can verify the identity of the signer only by personal knowledge. Personal knowledge means that the notary has known the signer for an extended period of time, and the notary is absolutely certain that the signer has the identity claimed. A mere acquaintance can offer no such assurance.

Over the last five years, my co-worker has brought her husband to the office approximately four times. Does he fall under the category of personally known for a notarization?

No. Personally known means that the notary public has known the signer for an extended period of time, and the notary is absolutely certain that the signer has the identity claimed, which a mere acquaintance cannot guarantee.

Can I refuse to notarize a document for my neighbor because he does not have his identification with him, even though I have known him for over ten years?

No. If you have personally known your neighbor for an extended period of time and you are absolutely certain that the signer has the identity claimed, you must have a good basis not to perform a notarization for your neighbor.

I am a notary public at a school, and I need to notarize documents for underage students who have no identification card. Can I notarize their documents?

In most states, if a notary public cannot establish the identity of a signer by a current state or federal issued identification card, the notary has two other options to verify the identity of the signer: 1) personal knowledge; or 2) on the oath of a credible witness. Personal knowledge means that the notary is certain that the signer has the identity claimed, which requires much more than a mere acquaintance. To use a credible witness to verify the identity of the signer, the credible witness must be personally known to both the signer and notary.