One of the more frustrating situations that come up is when someone has lost their I.D. This is especially true when you need to take care of business that involves verifying your identity before you can proceed.
I Lost My I.D. and I Need a Document Notarized
If your wallet is stolen or your purse is lost, you have a lot on your plate to deal with. You need to cancel your credit and debit cards, get new cards for insurance and clubs, and report the loss to every organization involved to minimize the damage caused by anyone using the cards or I.D.s that are no longer in your control. So, replacing your lost I.D.s may be something you put off. This creates a big problem if you need to have a document notarized, as the notary must verify the identity of the person who signs a document or they cannot notarize it.
In What Is A Proper Form of I.D.? , the ways you can verify your identity are spelled out. Here in Tennessee, if you have lost your driver license or state ID card and you don’t have a military ID or a passport, you’re down to one of the two remaining methods, which both involve personal knowledge.
If you lack a proper form of ID, one way you can have a document notarized is for the notary to already personally know you. This does not mean they met you one time recently. It means you have spent time together through various circumstances, usually around other people who called you by name, so they have a reasonable belief that you are who you say you are.
The other way is for you to bring along a credible witness who is personally known to the notary and who knows you personally. The same definition of personal knowledge applies here. The credible witness has to swear upon oath that you are the person named in the document(s) that you are signing. The notary should have the credible witness sign an affidavit to that effect before you sign your document. This affidavit counts as an additional document when figuring up the notary fees.
With the way Tennessee defines “personally known,” it is not enough that the credible witness just shows up and presents an ID. The notary has to already know them well enough to call them by name and to know that they have a trustworthy character so they can rely upon their statements, including the one they are making as to your identity. In effect, the credible witness is putting their reputation and their solemn word on the line UNDER OATH that you are who you say you are. So, the notary has to know that they can trust the word of the credible witness, which the notary could not do if they just showed up with you and showed the notary their ID.
If it sounds like these requirements mean a credible witness is going to be hard to find, that is not far from the truth. In all the years that I’ve been a notary, I’ve only used credible witnesses a few times, and those were mostly back when I was a legal secretary and my boss was the credible witness for his clients who were the signers.
If you have a coworker who is a notary, they may be able to notarize for you based on personal knowledge. If they don’t know you well, your boss may be able to serve as the credible witness to them.
If you are a church-goer and you personally know the pastor or deacon, ask them if there are any lawyers, CPAs, bankers, or insurance salespeople in your church. Those professionals are often notaries, as well, and the church leader who knows you and also knows them could be your credible witness to them.
If credible witnesses are not available and you can’t find a notary who knows you personally, your only option is to postpone the notarization until you have replaced your lost or stolen ID.