Certifying Copies by a notary is possible in some states. Other states allow the practice but only under certain conditions. Still other states do not allow the practice at all.
Below you will find a quick list of the states that allow notaries to perform this service or allow it with some restrictions. All states not listed do not allow notaries to perform this service.
Certifying copies comes with obvious risks. In legal documents the changing of one word, sentence or paragraph can change the entire meaning of the document. Therefore, be very careful when you are certifying copies.
Many states attempt to avoid this risk by requiring the notary to "supervise" the copying of the document prior to certifying copies. This makes sense as you can see the copy being made and the chance of changes being made without your knowledge are slim. Other states require you to review the original, but unless you have a photographic memory, it would be difficult to be absolutely sure the copy is the original.
My suggestion is to always supervise the copying. If the client brings you a copy, just tell them you have to make a copy. Simply, this is a good practice. I highly recommend it to you.
Documents can be certified by governmental official assigned to supervise the recording and indexing of the document, I would direct all clients to get certified copies directly from them, even if your state allows you to certify the document. It is simply not worth the risk to me. Think about it, if someone can get an officially certified copy from the government, but wants you to do it anyway, my spider senses kick in and I would avoid the potential for problems down the road. It is up to you of course, and not everyone is out to scam the system, but to me it is just not worth the risk.
States Certftying Copies are Allowed
Here are the states that allow notaries to certify documents:
District of Columbia
Certifying Copies are Allowed but with Restrictions
Here are the states that allow certification but with restrictions:
California - Power of Attorney document and Notary Journal only.
Colorado - Only with signed written request stating that certified copy not available from the officer of any recorder of public documents or other custodian of documents in the state.
Florida - Only with supervised photocopy. Notary can supervise the photocopy of the original and attest to the authentication of the copy.
Georgia - Only with supervised photocopy.
Hawaii - Only protest and notary journal.
Kentucky - Only protest.
Maryland - Only Register papers.
Montana - Only records issued on the job.
Oregon - Not public documents, especially vital statistics and health records. Should direct the bearer to get certified copies from government official who maintain the records.
Texas - Only recordable document. That is, documents that can be recorded with the government.
Utah - Only if the custodian of the original document appears before the notary.
Virginia - Not birth certificates, death or marriage certificates.
All other states do not allow this process.
The language used to certify the documents varies from state to state. California has a form that works well. It looks like this:
State of California
County of (where the certificate is being signed)
I, (your name) the undersigned Notary Public, hereby certify that on (date) I examined the original power of attorney, and the attached document is a true, complete, and unaltered photocopy of the original power of attorney presented to me.
___(your signature)______ (SEAL)Signature of Notary
Other such language that can be used:
* I, ________, a notary public, do certify that on DATE, I carefully compared the attached copy of DOCUMENT with the original. It is a complete and true copy of the original document.
* I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document in the possession of ______. (New Hampshire)
* On this DD day of MONTH, YYYY I certify that the ______ document is a true, exact, complete and unaltered copy of the original. (Mass)
* On this DD day of MONTH, YYYY, I hereby certify (1) that the foregoing [or attached] document is an accurate and unaltered copy of NAME OF DOC, presented to me by ______, the document's custodian, and (2) that, to the best of my knowledge, the copied document is neither a public record nor publicly recorded. (Utah)
* I, (name & quality of attestor), certify that the foregoing is a true and faithful copy of the original (this day exhibited to me), the same having been carefully examined by me and compared with the said original and found to agree therewith word for word and figure for figure. (US Consulate or Embassy)
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