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WWYD Answers: The Case Of The Birth Certificate And The Near Newlyweds

Bride---Groom-Paperwork.jpgLast month we posed a scenario, The Case Of The Birth Certificate And The Near Newlyweds, about a Notary who was asked by a couple of near-newlyweds to notarize their birth certificates in order for them to get a marriage license. The question: Is this an act that a Notary is authorized to perform, and, if so, how would you go about it?

Notaries nationwide weighed in on the NNA Facebook page, and their answers were unanimous. “Notaries cannot notarize vital records,” said California Notary Cindi Jordan. Florida Notaries Maureen Marrin and Brenda Ray Grant, Montana Notary Jenny Palmer-Gray, Virginia Notary Patricia Keatts, and Colorado Notary Crys Wallace all agreed: Vital records, including birth, marriage and death certificates, cannot be notarized. New York Notary Debbie Page Edwards suggested referring signers to the County Clerks office to receive a certified copy, and Sue Grabowski recommended the couple contact the Vital Records department in the state where the original documents were issued.

Here’s what the NNA Hotline had to say:

Birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates are considered “vital documents,” and cannot be notarized.

While each state has its own laws pertaining to this issue, below is the California statute with regards to vital records, for additional reference:

Copy certification by document custodian is not appropriate for vital records (birth, marriage, death certificates) since originals of these documents are retained by public agencies. Anyone requesting certified copies of vital records should be directed to the agency that holds the original — either the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, duly-appointed local registrar or county recorder of the county where the birth, death or marriage occurred. (Health and Safety Code, Section 103545.)

If the vital record is from a foreign country, then you should tell the signer to contact that country’s government for information on how to obtain a certified copy of a vital record, or they could contact the embassy or consulate of that country to see if a Notary working there could assist them.

For more information or help with your specific situation, contact the NNA Hotline.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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