2017 New Law – Accepting Tribal Cards

In 2017, California Notaries may accept Tribal cards as proper ID when performing a notarization. There are 562 federally recognized Indian tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, Rancherias, communities and Native villages in the United States according to Indian Nations. We looked to the Navajo Tribe for guidance to when identifying a tribal ID card successfully.

The ID card is the size of a California license. It will contain: a photo of the card carrier, name, date of birth, census number which indicates a person’s particular tribe (also called tribal enrollment number), gender, eye color, hair color, height, weight, mailing address and physical address, city, state, zip code, issue date and expiration date. The card will state that it is an“Official ID,” contain a US flag, a Navajo flag and a watermark of the Navajo seal. The card will also have each member’s signature along with the signature of the Navajo tribe manager of vital statistics.

To obtain a tribal ID card, members must present their original birth certificate or green certificate issued by Navajo Nation. The birth certificate cannot be a certified copy from the county recorder’s office, it must be the original. If a person has been married or divorced, they must present those certificates as well.

For security purposes, the card does have a machine-readable zone, which contains the cardholder’s personal information in a format that can be scanned by border agents to cross into Canada and Mexico.

The vital statistics office stated that they have received calls from other countries to verify tribal numbers for traveling members. Notaries will not have to go that far when accepting a Tribal ID card. Knowing the ID’s required information is enough to successfully notarize.

But, be aware that other tribes will have variations of the same information or less information. For example, The Cherokee Nation’s tribal ID does not contain an expiration date but instead is issued indefinitely.  When a person’s looks have significantly changed or they experience a name change, a member is expected to have a new card re-issued with an updated photo or name.

You can visit each Tribe’s website for an image of their ID and verify that all the information needed is present. Taking the extra time to confirm that an ID is valid is always worth it. An example is shown below.*


*Photo from the Navajo Nation ID Card website: http://nnovri.org/styled/index.html

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