Valid Forms of ID for the I-9

As set forth in the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act, employees applying to work at businesses in the United States must fill out a Form I-9, which helps establish identity and eligibility to work. This federal form requires basic information from employees as well as one or more of valid forms of ID that attest to the employee’s identification. Employers are then responsible for reviewing the documents in good faith for authenticity.

The entire process can sound deceptively simple, but many employers struggle in particular with questions about valid forms of ID for I-9s. To help companies navigate this aspect of the Form I-9 and others, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services created a roughly one-hundred-page manual. While this resource can be of assistance, many companies are also enlisting the help of digital I-9 software for paperless solutions that help save time and minimize human error.


Valid Forms of ID for the I-9

The second section of the Form I-9 is the part that deals most directly with valid forms of ID. Depending on the unique circumstances of each employee, one or more documents proving identification from Lists A, B, or C may be required.

The primary purpose of List A documents is to establish identity and employment authorization. Some of the documents employees can choose to present from this list include:

  • United States Passport or United States Passport Card.
  • Foreign Passports. This type of identification should be presented with required forms, proper notations, and stamps.
  • Permanent Resident Card. These are sometimes referred to as “green cards” and must not have expired to be considered valid. This card usually has a signature unless marked with the official notation of “signature waived.”
  • Previous Permanent Resident Card. This form of ID typically requires a signature unless it is marked with the official designation of “signature waived.”
  • Previous Employment Authorization Document. To be acceptable, this official document cannot be expired.
  • Employment Authorization Card. This card must not have expired to be considered valid.

The primary purpose of List B documents is to simply establish identity, and most employees who present a document from List B will also need to present a document from List C. Some of the valid forms of ID for I-9s on List B can include:

  • Driver’s License. To be valid, the license must be from the United States or one of its outlying territories. It must display a photo or detailed personal description and address and must not be expired.
  • ID Card Issued by a State or Outlying Territory of the United States. This form of ID often requires the employee provide additional information.
  • Voter Registration Card.
  • Federal, State, or Local Government Agency or Entity ID. These forms of identification must be official and may require additional information.
  • United States Military Card or Draft Record.
  • Military Dependent’s ID Card.
  • ID For Minors. For most minors, identification in the form of an official medical record, a school record, or a report card will suffice.

List C documents generally show identity and authorization to work in the U.S. and are presented in tandem with one or more List B documents. Valid forms of ID for I-9s regarding List C generally include:

  • S. Social Security Account Number Card. This card must be unrestricted, meaning it must not say “not valid for employment” or “valid for work only with…”
  • United States Citizen ID Card.
  • Original or Certified Copy of Birth Certificate Issued by a State, County, Municipal Authority, or Outlying Territory of the United States. To be valid, this certificate must bear an official seal.
  • Certification of Birth Abroad. This certification should be issued by the U.S. Department of State to be valid.
  • Certification Report of Birth. This certification must also be issued by the U.S. Department of State.
  • Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States.
  • Native American Tribal Document.


How to Examine Valid Forms of ID for the I-9

As long as an employee provides sufficient documentation that sensibly gives the impression of being genuine, relates to that specific employee, and is listed as an acceptable document on List A, B, or C of the Form I-9, employers may accept the documentation.

If an employee presents a document from List A, B, or C that does not appear to be genuine or relating to the employee, employers can reject the document and ask the employee for a different form of ID as specified by the Form I-9, but must not be discriminatory in doing so.


Digital I-9 Software and I-9 Documents

When it comes to organizing valid forms of ID for I-9s, digital I-9 software can help to organize and streamline the process. Some of the ways digital I-9 software can help employers manage valid forms of ID for I-9s include:

  • Software should provide employees with an advance list of the questions and fields that must be answered on the Form I-9. This allows employees to adequately prepare so Form I-9 timelines can be met. Employers should also receive a checklist to keep the form process on task.
  • Action Reminders. The software program usually assists in keeping track of expired identification documents and should prompt employers with an action alert if an expiration date is impending.
  • Paperless Solutions. Perhaps one of the best features of digital I-9 software is its ability to digitize and archive documents. This method is key in providing centralized reporting abilities.


By learning more about the valid forms of ID for I-9s, employers can feel confident in the process and rely on digital I-9 software to assist with compliance.

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