In Colorado, a notary must receive satisfactory evidence of identification of the signer before the notary can sign a notarial certificate on a document. A credible witness may be used. The signer must be:
1. personally known to the notary, or
2. must provide satisfactory evidence of identification including, but not limited to, a current photo identification card, issued by a federal or state governmental entity, or,
3. the sworn statement of a credible witness who personally knows the notary and the individual named in the document.
Using a credible witness is a less-preferred method to establish identity. The witness essentially serves as a human ID, vouching for the identity of a signer, when the signer is not personally known to the notary and does not have a photo ID card.
The witness should be someone that the notary has personally known for an extended period of time, and the notary is confident of the identity and the credibility of the witness. A casual acquaintance or someone that the notary recently met would not be a credible witness.
The notary must know that the witness has a reputation for honesty and reliability, is competent to participate in the notarial act, and is reasonably impartial to the transaction. The witness must not be a party to the transaction, must not receive a benefit from the transaction, and should not be related to the signer.
Oath or Affirmation
The notary administers an oath or affirmation to the credible witness regarding his/her personal knowledge of the signer’s identity, while in the presence of the document signer. For example: “Do you swear or affirm that this is John Andrew Smith and you know him personally?” The notary should also probe the impartiality of the witness. The oath or affirmation should be recorded in the notary journal.
One scenario where a witness might be found is where the notary works for an employer and there are other co-workers, personally known to the notary. The co-worker might serve as a credible witness for a friend.
Another scenario might be where the notary shares a common interest with a witness, such as being a member or alumni of the same neighborhood, group, association, committee, club, congregation, school, class, team, military unit, etc.
Or, the notary and the signer may use the same advisor, such as an attorney, accountant, financial advisor, insurance agent, real estate agent, consultant, etc. The advisor might serve as a credible witness if the advisor is impartial to the transaction.
Using a photo ID is the preferred method of identification. If the signer does not have a photo ID, he/she should apply to get a photo ID from the state or federal government. Notaries should be cautious when using a credible witness.
Update: the procedure for using a credible witness changed on July 1, 2018 when Colorado RULONA notary law became effective. See the new procedure at Affidavit of Identity by Credible Witness.
[Last-Modified Date 2017-03-26] add review schema, add page links, add image