How to certify copies of documents

Updated February 21, 2017

A certified copy of a document means that an authorised person checks and verifies that a copy of a document is in fact a true copy. In the United States, a notary public usually performs this process of certification. In order to get a document certified, you need to locate an authorised notary public in your region and take the document to that person to get it certified. The laws regarding certified copies vary from state to state..

Consult the United States State Department website to determine whether a notary public can certify a copied document in your state. For example, if you live in Kansas, a notary public can certify documents, but in Colorado, a notary public can only certify documents that are accompanied by a written request verifying that the copy is not available from an official source or public document recorder in the state.

Find a local notary public where you can take your documents. Notary publics are listed in various locations. You can find them in the phone book under Notary Public. If you have Internet access, you can search for notary public in your specific area. For example, if you search "Notary Public Akron, Ohio" you will find a list provided by the city of notary public locations. This is similar in many cities in the United States.

Gather supporting documents if necessary. For example, you may need to prepare a written request in a state that requires one. Ask your local notary public what additional documents are needed, if any. If you live in a state such as Illinois where certified copies are not permitted in any circumstance, then you must use the original document.

Take the document to the notary public. You need to take both an original and a copy so that the notary public can verify that the document is in fact a copy of the original. In some, the notary public may sign the document. After the notary public stamps or signs the document, then it is considered an officially certified copy.

Pay the fee for the certification. The fee will vary depending on the location and document type.

Things You'll Need

  • Original document
  • Copy of document
  • Phone book
  • Computer and Internet
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About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.