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Today, we will analyze an essential aspect of your role – certifying copies of documents. As notaries, your ability to authenticate copies is a valuable service that aids individuals and organizations in various legal and administrative processes. This blog will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of the certification process and offer tips to ensure accurate and professional execution.

  1. What is Certifying Copies of Documents?
    Certifying copies involves verifying the authenticity of a duplicate document, declaring it to be an exact replica of an original. As a notary public, you play a pivotal role in this process, offering an official certification that the copy is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Notary tools like a Certified True Copy Stamp, found here, can help perform your duties.
  2. Eligibility of Documents
    As a notary public, you must be cautious about the type of documents you can certify. Commonly accepted documents for certification include:
    a. Vital Records: Birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, etc. It is important to note that rules vary by state! Thank You to Lorre H who pointed out that “Virginia notaries cannot certify a true copy of vital records. They will be certified by the registrar or clerk of court”.
    b. Educational Records: Diplomas, degrees, transcripts, etc.
    c. Identification Documents: Passports, driver’s licenses, national identity cards, etc.
    d. Legal Agreements: Contracts, affidavits, power of attorney, etc. Remember, private or confidential documents, such as wills and medical records, generally cannot be certified by a notary public.
  3. Best Practices for Certifying Copies
    To uphold professionalism and avoid any discrepancies, consider the following best practices:
    a. Inspect the Original: Always compare the copy to the original document carefully. Ensure that the copy includes all the elements present in the original, such as stamps, seals, and signatures.
    b. Use a Certification Statement: Draft a clear and concise certification statement indicating that the copy is a true likeness of the original. The statement should include the date, your name, title, notary commission details, and any other relevant information.
    c. Avoid Certifying Already Certified Copies: Do not certify copies that have already been notarized or have existing certifications. Your role is to verify copies of original documents only.
    d. Affix Your Seal: Affix your official notary seal to the certified copy to provide further authenticity. The seal serves as a mark of your authority as a notary public. Anchor Stamp manufactures high-quality notary seals for all states,
  4. Record-Keeping
    As with all notarial acts, maintaining accurate records is crucial. Create a detailed entry in your notary journal for each certified copy, including the date, type of document, name of the document owner, and any fees charged. This practice ensures compliance and helps resolve any future disputes. offers Record books that meet state guidelines here:
  5. Educate Clients
    Part of your responsibility as a notary public is to educate your clients about the certification process. Explain what they should expect and the significance of having certified copies in their legal and administrative endeavors.

    Certifying copies of documents is a critical aspect of a notary public’s duties. By adhering to best practices and maintaining utmost professionalism, you contribute to a robust legal and administrative framework. Your role as a reliable certifier fosters trust and confidence in the documents that individuals and organizations rely on. Stay committed to your ethical obligations, and you will continue to be a respected and indispensable asset to your community. Remember, this blog serves as a guide, and it is essential to stay updated on any changes in laws or regulations pertaining to your jurisdiction. Happy notarizing!

    About the Author: Thomas McTague is the owner of Anchor Rubber Stamp Co. Inc. and with nearly 30 years of experience in the Notary Industry.