Legal Forms of Identification

Legal Forms of Identification
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Legal forms of identification are used to establish identity, residency and citizenship. Employers, schools, government agencies, banks, social service agencies all may ask for legal ID before agreeing to work with an individual. Each state, agency, company, or educational institution may establish its own rules for what qualifies as legal identification, but generally, government-issued documents bearing the ID holder's full name, date of birth and photo qualify as legal forms of identification.

Driver's Licenses and ID Cards

Driver's license

Driver's licenses and non-driver state-issued photo ID cards serve as legal forms of identification for education, employment and business purposes. Because they feature a recent photograph of the subject, a valid address and signature, they are the one of the most commonly requested type of legal identification.

Birth Certificate

Birth certificate

Birth certificates issued by state vital records departments are considered a primary form of legal identification. They can be used in order to apply for a passport, Social Security card, driver's license or show proof of citizenship when applying for a job. Generally, only original birth certificates or certified copies bearing a seal or stamp from the state of issue qualify as legal identification, however.



Regardless of the issuing country, passports are a form of legal identification in the United States. Most nonresident aliens and visitors will be required to show a passport when using financial and social services in the United States. U.S. residents without driver's licenses, as well as young children, also frequently use passports as a primary form of legal photo identification.

Immigration Documents


Non-citizen residents in the United States may use their immigration documents as identification when applying for a job, requesting a driver's license, or conducting business. Legal immigration documents may include Certificates of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, I-94 cards, Resident Alien Cards, visitor visas and student visas.

Other Forms of Legal ID

A pilot's license is a legal form of identification

Photo ID cards issued by the U.S. military are considered a legal form of identification, along with pilot's licenses, certified copies of school transcripts, certificates of baptism issued by a recognized church and U.S. government employee identification cards bearing a recent photograph and signature. Although they are not considered primary forms of identifications, legal identification may also include Social Security cards, school ID, voter registration cards and Native American tribal documents.

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