Certified copy

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Exemplified certified copy of Decree Absolute issued by the Family Court Deputy District Judge – divorce certificate

A certified copy is a copy (often a photocopy) of a primary document that has on it an endorsement or certificate that it is a true copy of the primary document. It does not certify that the primary document is genuine, only that it is a true copy of the primary document.

A certified copy is often used in English-speaking common law countries as a convenient way of providing a copy of documents. It is usually inexpensive to obtain. A certified copy may be required for official government or court purposes and for commercial purposes. It avoids the owner of important documents (especially identity documents) giving up possession of those documents which might mean a risk of their loss or damage.

It has some similarities to a notarized copy, which is a form used in some countries, and particularly in some US states. A notarized copy is signed by a notary public (not to be confused with a notary in a civil law country).

The certified copy is signed by a person nominated by the person or agency asking for it. Typically, the person is referred to as an authorised person. The person who is authorised to sign the certificate will vary between countries. Sometimes a person is authorised by legislation to do so (for example a court clerk, solicitor, or notary public), but this is not always so. In some countries, for example the United Kingdom and South Africa, identity documents can also be certified by authorised post office staff.[1]

A copy of a primary document that is to be used internationally may have to be in the form of a notarized copy rather than a certified copy. A notarized copy may be more expensive to obtain. A copy of a document to be used internationally may also have to comply with special rules - Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.

If the primary document needs to be translated, an additional certificate is usually required. Typically, the document must be translated professionally and have the professional's certificate of accuracy attached to the translation together with a copy of the primary document. Then, the primary document, the translation, and the certificate of accuracy are photocopied in the form of a certified copy. For example, a Russian birth certificate used in an English-speaking country, a notarized copy will be required.

United Arab Emirates[edit]

A lawyer does a true copy attestation in Dubai and throughout the United Arab Emirates. In order to provide this testimony, the attorney first authenticates the disputed original document, then copies it and attests that the copy is an accurate and true replica of the original. Usually, a lawyer signs and dates the photocopy and stamps the document to attest to its authenticity. You could be required to get your document notarized in specific circumstances. This is unclear since notaries public in the United Arab Emirates do not perform genuine copy attestations; instead, judicial attestations are recognized as an acceptable substitute globally.

Passports, utility/DEWA bills, employment credentials, and any other documents issued inside or outside the UAE are common documents that require true copy attestation in the UAE.

In certain cases, if necessary, a genuine copy attestation of a passport may entail the attorney attesting to the accuracy of the passport's photo. In order to fulfill this prerequisite, the individual must appear in front of the attorney to complete the necessary attestation.


In Australia, certified copies are solely the creation of administrative practice. There is no specific legislation at federal, state, or territorial level.

Certified copies have long been used to give a veneer of authenticity to a photocopy of a primary document. In practice, they are very easy to obtain at almost no cost other than the photocopy, and are used in a wide range of situations, especially with identity documents.

In practice, and purely for convenience, a copy may usually be certified by a person who is able to witness a statutory declaration under federal legislation about Statutory Declarations. Categories of people are listed in Schedule 2 of the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993 (Cth).[2] Schedule 2 states that chiropractors, dentists, legal practitioners, medical practitioners, nurses, optometrists, patent attorneys, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists, trade mark attorneys and Veterinary surgeons may certify copies. Part 2 of the schedule lists various other professions and positions, the members or occupants of which may also certify copies (for example, judges, police officers and members of parliament).

A typical certificate endorsed on the photocopy, often typed or stamped except for the signature:


I certify that this is a true copy of the original document.

Authority to sign:
Telephone number:

Certified copies can be quite basic in Australia due to the lack of legislation. More detail is often required by the person or agency requiring it. Sometimes the person or agency will contact the person certifying the copy to limit the possibility of a fraudulent copy.

In some states and territories, police stations and libraries have arrangements to enable documents to be certified or witnessed by a justice of the peace. This service is free.


Photocopies can be certified free at a police station. Certified copies, for example of the "Omang" state identity card, are widely used, and are often required for job applications, etc.


In India, under section 2(j)(ii) of The Right to Information Act, 2005, the Public Information Officer (PIO) is mandatorily 'required to provide the appellant "Certified copies of documents or records."' In such a case, the PIO is only certifying that copies of documents or records are true copies of those held on a 'X' page of a 'X' file of the Public Authority, irrespective of their original source.

Sri Lanka[edit]

In Sri Lanka, certified copy or true copy of an original document can be attested by an attorney, a notary public or a justice of the peace.

United States[edit]

Certified copies of public records, such as birth and marriage certificates, must be obtained from the office that holds the record.[3]

In most U.S. states and territories, notaries public are authorized to certify copies of any documents that are not public records.[4] For example, they may certify copies of passports, identification cards, driver licenses, statements and contracts.[3] In this case, the notary signs a statement directly certifying that the copy is true.[5] In other states, notaries are not authorized to certify copies, or may certify copies of only a few types of documents such as their own notary journals.[4] In case the notary is not authorized to certify a copy, it is possible to perform an alternative procedure, known as "copy certification by document custodian", where the holder of the document signs a statement affirming that the copy is true, and the notary only certifies that the holder signed and affirmed this statement.[4][5]

To certify that the copy is true, some states require that the notary personally make or supervise the photocopying process, while others allow the notary to visually compare a copy presented by the requester to the original document.

Jurisdiction Documents whose copies may be certified by notaries (other than public records) Photocopy must be made or supervised by the notary
Alabama[6] Notary's journal No
Alaska[7] None
American Samoa[8][9] Any Yes
Arizona[10] Any Yes
Arkansas[11] Any Yes
California[12] Powers of attorney and notary's journal No
Colorado[13] Any No
Connecticut[14] Any Yes
Delaware[15] Any No
District of Columbia[16][17] Any No
Florida[18] Any Yes
Georgia[19] Any Yes
Guam[20] Any No
Hawaii[21][22] Protests and notary's journal No
Idaho[23] Any Yes
Illinois[24] None
Indiana[25] Any Yes
Iowa[26] Any Yes
Kansas[27] Any No
Kentucky[28] Any No
Louisiana[29] Acts passed by the same notary and their attachments No
Maine[30] None
Maryland[31] Any No
Massachusetts[32] Any Yes
Michigan[33][34] None
Minnesota[35] Any No
Mississippi[36] None
Missouri[37] Any No
Montana[38] Any No
Nebraska[39] None
Nevada[40][41] Any Yes
New Hampshire[42] Any No
New Jersey[43] Any No
New Mexico[44] Any Yes
New York[45] None
North Carolina[46] None
North Dakota[47] Any No
Northern Mariana Islands[48] Any No
Ohio[49] None
Oklahoma[50] Any No
Oregon[51] Any Yes
Pennsylvania[52] Any No
Puerto Rico[53] Any No
Rhode Island[54] Any Yes
South Carolina[55] None
South Dakota[56] None
Tennessee[57] None
Texas[58] Any No
United States Virgin Islands[59] Any No
Utah[60] Any No
Vermont[61] Any No
Virginia[62] Any Yes
Washington[63] Any No
West Virginia[64] Any No
Wisconsin[65] Any No
Wyoming[66] Any No

Example of copy certification by notary:

State of ________________, County of ________________

I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a record in the possession of _______________________________.
Dated _______________________________

_______________________________           (Notarial stamp, including name,
(Notary Public)                           title, and commission expiration) 

Example of copy certification by document custodian:

I, _______________________________, hereby declare that the attached reproduction of _______________________________ is a true and correct copy of the original document.

(Document custodian)

State of ________________, County of ________________

Signed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me on _______________________________ by _______________________________.

_______________________________           (Notarial stamp, including name,
(Notary Public)                           title, and commission expiration) 


In Vietnam, a certified copy or true copy of an original document can be attested by a Ward/District or higher People's Committee or Notary Office, not only Vietnamese official documents but also foreign documents.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Document Certification Service | Post Office". www.postoffice.co.uk.
  2. ^ Commonwealth Government of Australia, Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993. Available at [1]
  3. ^ a b David Thun (September 6, 2022). "Handling Certified Copies Of Public Records And Other Unusual Notary Requests". National Notary Association.
  4. ^ a b c David Thun (November 3, 2021). "What Notaries Need To Know About Copy Certification". National Notary Association.
  5. ^ a b David Thun (October 27, 2022). "How to certify a copy of a document". National Notary Association.
  6. ^ "The Alabama Secretary of State's Handbook for Notaries Public" (PDF). Alabama Secretary of State. January 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "Alaska Notary Statutes". Lieutenant Governor of Alaska.
  8. ^ "Annotated Code of American Samoa, 31.0307 Definitions". American Samoa Bar Association.
  9. ^ "Annotated Code of American Samoa, 31.0320 Powers and prohibitions". American Samoa Bar Association.
  10. ^ "Arizona Notary Public Reference Manual" (PDF). Arizona Secretary of State. January 2023.
  11. ^ "Arkansas Notary Public & eNotary Handbook" (PDF). Arkansas Secretary of State. 2021.
  12. ^ "Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). California Secretary of State. January 2022.
  13. ^ "Notary Handbook" (PDF). Colorado Secretary of State. August 26, 2021.
  14. ^ "General Statutes of Connecticut, Section 3-94a. Notaries public. Definitions". Connecticut General Assembly.
  15. ^ "Chapter 43. Notaries Public, Subchapter II. Notarial Acts". Delaware Code.
  16. ^ "Code of the District of Columbia, Chapter 12A. Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts". Council of the District of Columbia.
  17. ^ "Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia. 2022.
  18. ^ "Florida Statutes, 117.05. Use of notary commission; unlawful use; notary fee; seal; duties; employer liability; name change; advertising; photocopies; penalties". Florida Legislature.
  19. ^ "Georgia Notary Law". Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority.
  20. ^ "Guam Notary Act". Office of the Attorney General of Guam.
  21. ^ "Notary Public Manual" (PDF). Hawaii Department of the Attorney General. August 2022.
  22. ^ "Top Frequently Asked Questions". Hawaii Department of the Attorney General.
  23. ^ "Idaho Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). Idaho Secretary of State. 2020.
  24. ^ "Illinois Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). Illinois Secretary of State. April 2012.
  25. ^ "Indiana Notary Public Guide" (PDF). Indiana Secretary of State. February 9, 2022.
  26. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). Iowa Secretary of State.
  27. ^ "Kansas Notary Handbook" (PDF). Kansas Secretary of State. July 20, 2022.
  28. ^ "Kentucky Revised Statutes, 423.310 Notarial acts – Tangible and electronic records – Online notary – Prohibited acts – Tangible copy of electronic record". Kentucky Legislature.
  29. ^ "Revised Statutes, Title 35, §2. General powers; administration of certain oaths in any parish; true copies". Louisiana State Legislature.
  30. ^ "Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide" (PDF). Maine Department of the Secretary of State. 2021.
  31. ^ "Handbook for Maryland Notaries Public" (PDF). Maryland Secretary of State. April 2021.
  32. ^ "General Laws, Chapter 222, Section 1: Definitions". General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  33. ^ "Michigan Law on Notarial Acts" (PDF). Michigan Legislature.
  34. ^ "Notary Dos and Don'ts" (PDF). Michigan Department of State.
  35. ^ "Notary FAQ". Minnesota Secretary of State.
  36. ^ "Revised Notary Rules" (PDF). Mississippi Secretary of State.
  37. ^ "Missouri Notary Handbook" (PDF). Missouri Secretary of State. January 2021.
  38. ^ "Montana Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). Montana Secretary of State. 2021.
  39. ^ "Nebraska Revised Statutes, 64-107. Powers and duties; certificate or records; receipt in evidence". Nebraska Legislature.
  40. ^ "Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 240 – Notaries Public and Commissioned Abstracters". Nevada Legislature.
  41. ^ "FAQs – Notary Divisions". Nevada Secretary of State.
  42. ^ "Notary Public and Justice of the Peace Manual" (PDF). New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General and Department of State. February 2022.
  43. ^ "New Jersey Notary Public Manual" (PDF). New Jersey Department of the Treasury. October 22, 2021.
  44. ^ "Notary Handbook". New Mexico Secretary of State.
  45. ^ "Notary Public License Law" (PDF). New York Department of State. January 2023.
  46. ^ "General Statutes § 10B-20. Powers and limitations" (PDF). North Carolina General Assembly.
  47. ^ "North Dakota Century Code, Chapter 44-06.1, Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts" (PDF). North Dakota Legislature.
  48. ^ "Northern Mariana Islands Administrative Code, Chapter 5-30, Notaries Public Rules and Regulations" (PDF). Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Law Revision Commission.
  49. ^ "Notary Information, Resources and FAQs". Ohio Secretary of State.
  50. ^ "Oklahoma Statutes, Title 49. Notaries Public" (PDF). Oklahoma Senate.
  51. ^ "Oregon Notary Public Guide" (PDF). Oregon Secretary of State. 2020.
  52. ^ "Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 57, Chapter 3, Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts" (PDF). Pennsylvania Department of State.
  53. ^ "Leyes de Puerto Rico, Título 4 § 2091. Testimonio o declaración de autenticidad – Concepto; limitaciones; extensión de la fe pública" [Laws of Puerto Rico, Title 4 § 2091. Testimony or declaration of authenticity – Concept; limitations; extension of public faith] (in Spanish). Justia. 2020.
  54. ^ "Notary Public Manual" (PDF). Rhode Island Secretary of State. 2023.
  55. ^ "Notary Public Online Manual" (PDF). South Carolina Secretary of State. 2023.
  56. ^ "Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). South Dakota Secretary of State. July 1, 2021.
  57. ^ "Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service. June 2016.
  58. ^ "Government Code, Title 4, Chapter 406. Notary public; commissioner of deeds". Texas Legislature.
  59. ^ "Act no. 8542" (PDF). Lieutenant Governor of the United States Virgin Islands. 2022.
  60. ^ "Utah Notary Public Study Guide and Handbook" (PDF). Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Utah. May 16, 2022.
  61. ^ "Vermont Statutes, Title 26, Chapter 103: Notaries Public". Vermont General Assembly.
  62. ^ "Notary Public Handbook" (PDF). Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. March 23, 2021.
  63. ^ "Washington State Notary Public Guide" (PDF). Washington State Department of Licensing. July 1, 2018.
  64. ^ "West Virginia Notary Handbook" (PDF). West Virginia Secretary of State. May 2018.
  65. ^ "Notary Public Information" (PDF). Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. February 2022.
  66. ^ "Wyoming Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts" (PDF). Wyoming Secretary of State. 2021.