From computer chips and laser etching to new shapes and holographic images, government-issued IDs are undergoing makeovers. The changes are part of a growing movement to make IDs more difficult to fake or alter. Some of the more prevalent changes include:
Digital Drivers Licenses
Drivers licenses are taking on a more cluttered look due to new security features, including ghost photos, laser-etched signatures, geometric background designs and barcodes.
Benefits: All of these features are designed for one purpose to make it harder for criminals to forge or alter government-issued IDs. Georgias new IDs, for example, contain a pair of ghost photos, a geometric background, a signature laser-etched over the principal photo and a special coating. The barcode on the back of each ID is intended to be scanned by banks, retailers and others to verify the identity information on the front.
What Notaries need to know: Dont let the cluttered look throw you. Drivers licenses and IDs with these features are more secure than their predecessors. However, older IDs without these features are still valid. States are issuing the new IDs to existing ID holders when their current IDs expire, so expect to see both types for the next several years.
Enhanced Drivers Licenses
One notable new type of license making its debut is the Enhanced Drivers License (EDL). An EDL is designed as a low-cost alternative to a passport. It can be used when crossing land borders between the U.S. and other countries.
Benefits: The cards contain embedded electronic identity data that can be verified at a border checkpoint. In addition, the identity-verification and other requirements for obtaining EDLs are stricter than for regular drivers licenses.
What Notaries need to know: EDLs typically have special identifiers to make them easily recognizable. Michigan, for example, imprints the words Enhanced Drivers License and the image of a U.S. flag on its EDLs. Otherwise, EDLs are nearly identical in appearance to standard drivers licenses and include the same information the bearers name, address, description, photo and signature which means they are acceptable as satisfactory evidence of identity. At present, only a handful of states, including Michigan, New York and Washington, issue EDLs.
Many states including Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington are now issuing drivers licenses and IDs for people under 21 years of age in a vertical format.
Benefits: The principal purpose is to help crack down on underage drinking. While they do not contain any additional security features found in their counterparts issued to people 21 and over, they are easily recognizable.
What Notaries need to know: The vertical drivers licenses and IDs are perfectly acceptable as satisfactory evidence of identity. They contain the same information as every other drivers and nondrivers ID. Apart from their vertical format, some states add a few extra elements to make them stand out more, including the date the card holder comes of age or a red frame around the minors photo. The vertical cards also could alert you to check the date of birth to see if your signer is under the age of consent. Minors often need their parent or legal guardian to sign legal documents on their behalf.