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Certified Copies or Attested to Copies?

posted May 29, 2016, 4:57 PM by AG Pro Serve Intl.

Let’s say you were asked to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Do you make a copy of the original and take it to a notary public to “certify” it? Or do you take the original to the notary for him or her to make one and “certify” it?

Well, the short answer is “No” for both!

This is the second post where I’m addressing the basic duties of a notary public in more detail, and on this one, I’m addressing the issue of certified copies,  photocopies of documents that many people want notaries to “certify.” Notaries can attest to, not certify, some documents; others cannot be done.

However, first let me explain the difference between certified and attested copies to clear up any confusion you might have.

Certified copy: it is a copy of a document that people can obtain from a vital record, a public record,  or from the custodian of that public record.

Which types of documents cannot be photocopied from the original and attested by a notary?

Birth, marriage, or death certificates, certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship, documents filed in a court proceeding,  documents recorded by the Clerk of the Court, public records maintained in government offices, student records (transcripts, etc.) kept in public education offices, federal or state income tax forms, already filed, professional licenses issued by the State of Florida, any document for which photocopying is prohibited (not a complete list of public records).

Ex.: If you need a copy of your birth certificate, you do not take the original to a notary to photocopy it because he or she cannot do that; you need to contact the pertinent vital record department so they can issue a copy of your birth certificate which is a certified copy.

NOTE for Notaries: If the document is issued by a government entity, the notary should contact that entity to determine whether a certified copy is available. If one is available, then the notary public must decline to make an attested photocopy. Additionally, the notary should ask the person if the document has been filed in a court proceeding or in the official records at the courthouse.

Attested copies: in FL notaries can make attested photocopies in which they attest to the trueness of photocopies of certain documents; although known and called, they are not certified copies.

According to section 117.05(12) of the Florida Statutes, notaries can make attested photocopies if the following criteria are satisfied:

  • The document must be an original document. A notary public cannot make an attested photocopy from a photocopy, or from another certified copy.
  • The document cannot be a public record, certified copies of which are available from another public official. If a certified copy can be obtained from the official source, then the notary public should decline the request.
  • The making of the photocopy must be supervised by the notary public. It is not sufficient for the notary public to compare the photocopy with the original document in FL. The notary public must actually make the photocopy or supervise another person while he or she makes the photocopy.
So don’t bring copies of the original to a FL notary; he or she will have to make the copies or supervise you making them.
Which types of documents can be photocopied from the original and attested by a notary?

The following documents can be photocopied from the original (if not officially filed or recorded) and attested to by a notary, because certified copies cannot be obtained from another public official:

Florida driver’s license, Florida vehicle title, Social Security card, diploma, medical record, U.S. passport, resident Alien card (permanent resident card)  issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service,  bill of sale, contract, lease, or personal letter.

After the photocopy is made by or supervised by the notary, the notary should complete a notarial certificate in substantially the same form as prescribed by law. This notarial certificate should be typed, stamped or written on the front or back of the photocopy or may be attached as a separate page.

State of ______________
County of ____________
On this ___ day of _________, 20___, I certify that the preceding or attached document is a true, exact, complete, and unaltered photocopy made by me from the original document (Description of Document), presented to me by the document’s custodian, (Document Custodian’s Name) and that, to the best of my knowledge, the photocopied document is neither a public record nor a publicly recorded document, certified copies of which are available from an official source other than a notary public.

                                                       (Signature of Notary Public)
[SEAL]                              (Printed Name of Notary Public)


FL – Duties of a Notary Public p.15

Hope this clarified any  confusion, saved you time, and paper!

by Alessandra Jackson

AG Pro Serve Intl.