Can You Certify This Copy, Please?

Oct 13, 2020

Hi, this is Laura with Coach Me Laura and At Your Service Mobile Notary.

Today let's chat about a commonly requested act from us called "Copy Certification". This is when the signer brings a document and they need it to be certified that it is a true copy, they're asking for notarization. This is one of the only times we are performing a notarization where there's no signature involved!

If you're in one of the 20 States that has this notarial act, congratulations, you get to do it! There will be procedures involved, for instance, whether you need to make the copy or not, whether you need to keep a copy or not. There will be certificate language for you to use that is specific to this.

Also, there are some restrictions for all 50 States. These restrictions are for vital records like birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, or publicly recorded documents like real estate or court documents. These are documents that we will NOT be making a certification of the trueness of the copy!

Then what about the 30 States that don't have this notarial act at all? What do we do? We will get the same requests! So there is an option for the client. The client can write a statement about the trueness of the copy, sign that statement, and then the notary can perform a notarial act like an acknowledgement or a jurat against the signature affixed to the statement.

Now that's all good and fine, but here's the issue. We don't know what the right kind is. And even if we think we do, that's not our job. Second of all, we don't know if the receiving agency will accept the signer self certifying the copy rather than the notary certifying the copy. Some of us have called this a "copy certification by the document custodian".

That's not a notarial act itself. That's a description of the process I just mentioned to you. So here's the deal. If they want to do the statement, you might find a pre formatted certificate that has a place for them to write it out and then an acknowledgement or a jurat at the bottom of it.

The problem is you better have a version for each because it's not your place to determine which is the right notarial act. As a matter of fact, the NNA stopped producing that back in 2015, for this very reason. So make sure that the client understands what they're doing. They might have to make a call to find out if it's acceptable, and then you have a way to take care of that request. Remember, you're not certifying the copy in this case, so you don't need to see the original. You don't need to make the copy. It's all good.

Now I bring this up for a specific reason. Yesterday. I had an assignment. I was asked to go pick up six passport copies that have been notarized, and now they need Apostille work. So I went down there. Four of them I personally had notarized them myself a few weeks before. The other two were handled by a different notary a few hours away for people in another office.

So I took a look at the two that I did not notarize and sure enough, all that was on there was a jurat stamp with their Seal of Office that says 'subscribed and sworn', but there was no signature from the signer on it! It was done incorrectly. I needed to reject the two and let them know this needs to be redone so that there's a statement along with a signature that the notary can certify.

I asked them 'do you want to send it back and make the notary redo it again?' 'Do you want to wait until they're in the office the next time and I'll do it for you?' 'What would you like?' And so they chose to wait until they come in and I'll take care of that, and then facilitate the Apostille work after.

You know, when we handle documents that are going to be Apostilled, that means it's being reviewed by the Secretary of State, our boss. Not only do they check if we are a valid notary, they review the notarization to see if we performed it correctly. So now your boss knows if you're not doing this correctly.

Make sure you know what you're doing, and make sure you do it right so that when it gets to the Secretary of State, it's valid, not only are YOU valid, but YOU'RE notarization is! You will have saved your client time, money, and frustration because the Secretary of State doesn't give them back their money if it doesn't work. It's taking time to get this going back and forth.

So take care of your client! Good customer service means you know how it works! And if you're the second notary along the way, take a look at other work that's been notarized. And if you see it's not correct, speak up! It's not your job to fix it, but if you know that it's not going to work, then say something!

All right, I hope this has been helpful to you.

And until next time, keep it safe!





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