How to Certify Copies

Updated November 22, 2016

There are many reasons that you may need a certified copy of a document. A certified copy is a copy of a document that is certified to be a true and accurate copy of the original by a person that has been authorised by the legislature of your state to certify documents. Common examples of documents that you may need to have certified include birth certificates, death certificates, divorce decrees, business records and civil and criminal judgments.

Determine who originally issued the document. In the case of birth or death records, for example, it will generally be the Department of Vital Records or the Department of Health. For other court records, it will be the court where the document was originally filed. Business records can usually be obtained from the Secretary of State where the business is registered.

Locate contact information for the office, agency or court that needs to certify the document. If it is a court that issued the document, look for contact information for the Clerk of Courts, as the clerk is the person who generally certifies documents. Contact information can be found online or at your local library.

Determine what steps must be taken to obtain a certified copy. If you are using the Internet, you will most likely be able to find the steps necessary on the agency, court or office's website. If not, call them directly and ask what you must do to obtain a certified copy. Most of the time, you will need to prove your identity and why you are entitled to the document. You will also need to pay a fee for certification.

Mail all the required information along with the certification fee and a self-addressed stamped envelope if you can complete the entire transaction via mail. If you must appear in person, take all your information and the certification fee with you to the office and you should receive your certified copy that day.


Ask what form of payment they accept. You may have to send a money order, as many government offices no longer accept personal checks.


If requesting a certified copy by mail, make sure that you give precise information regarding the document you need or your request may be sent back unfulfilled. Also, make sure that you are one of the people listed as legally entitled to the document. This will apply for birth or death records.

Things You'll Need

  • Copy of the original document
  • State or federal identification
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About the Author

Renee Booker has been writing professionally since 2009 and was a practicing attorney for almost 10 years. She has had work published on Gadling, AOL's travel site. Booker holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Ohio State University and a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law.