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Certification of True Copies of Documents

Some states in the United States provide that notaries public may execute certifications of true copies of documents. Many U.S. states, however, have eliminated this as a function of notaries due to concern about security and fraud.

Avoid Certifying True Copies of Public Documents: Refer Inquirer to Custodian of Records: If the document is a public document, such as a birth, death, marriages or divorce record, a notarizing officer should direct the inquirer to the custodian of records in that state or other jurisdiction.
Note: The office of Consular Affairs is aware that in international adoption, for example, a notarized certified true copy of a birth, death, marriage, divorce decree is not acceptable in most foreign jurisdictions. Applicants must obtain copies certified by the official custodian of the public records. See country specific adoption information material on the Consular Affairs Internet home page (http://travel.state.gov). For consular reports of birth or death, see How to Apply for a Certified Copy of One of These Reports.

SWORN OR AFFIRMED STATEMENT BY THE BEARER
An alternative is to permit the requester to make a sworn statement that the document presented is a true copy. This is a process whereby an individual makes a sworn statement declaring that a copy is an exact reproduction of an original document he or she possesses. This is also known as a "Copy Certification by a Document Custodian."

Notarizing officers, e.g. notaries, should ask the following questions before performing this function.

THRESHOLD QUESTIONS
Foreign Public Documents:
(1) Is it possible for the applicant to obtain a duplicate original or certified true copy of the document in the host country from the custodian of records?
(2) If the answer to (1) is "no," has the applicant presented adequate evidence that the document is required for use in the United States?

U.S. Public Documents:
(1) Is a notary public authorized to execute certified true copies of documents, including vital records (birth, death, marriage records, etc.) located in the jurisdiction where the document will be used?
(2) If the answer to (1) is "yes," has the applicant presented adequate evidence that the document is required for use in the United States? The state Notary Public Administrator can provide this information.

See attached table to view which states allow notaries to make "Certified Copies" or "Attested Copies".

Table of States - Copy Certification by U.S. Notaries


Article Details
Date Created December 01, 2009
Submitted by: Paul Williamson <Paul@PAWnotary.com>
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