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Quiz: How Notaries Certify Copies

Test your knowledge: Take our quiz to determine if you know the proper procedures for creating a certified copy. (See below for detailed answers).

ANSWERS:

1.  When certifying a copy, the Notary is:

A. Verifying any signatures on the copy
B. Verifying the signer is the person named in the copy and original document
C. Certifying the copy is an accurate reproduction of the original document
D. Certifying that the copy was made by a currently commissioned Notary

Answer: C. Certifying a copy means that the Notary is being asked to verify that the photocopy or reproduction is a true, complete and correct copy of the original document. Not every state authorizes Notaries to do this. Nebraska and New York, for example, do not permit Notaries to certify any copies, and California limits Notaries only to certifying copies of powers of attorney or photocopies of their own journal entries. Virginia prohibits certifying a copy of court-issued documents.

2. When certifying a copy, does a Notary have to complete a notarial certificate?

A. No. The Notary compares the copy to the original and signs the copy
B. No. The Notary compares the copy to the original and affixes the Notary seal to the copy
C. Yes. The Notary may complete either an acknowledgment or jurat certificate and affix it to the copy
D. Yes. The Notary must complete a copy certification certificate and affix it to the copy

Answer: D. After comparing the copy to the original document and verifying it is an accurate copy, the Notary must complete the appropriate copy certification notarial certificate required by state law and attach it to the copy.

3. Who can certify a copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate in the United States?

A. The recording office where the original certificate is kept
B. A Notary commissioned in the state where the certificate was issued
C. Any Notary commissioned in a United States jurisdiction or territory
D. An attorney licensed to practice law in the state where the certificate was issued

Answer: A. Notaries may not certify copies of original vital records such as birth, death or marriage certificates. Copies of these documents may lawfully be certified only by officials in the relevant public records office.

4. Who should make the copy of the original document for a copy certification?

A. The Notary
B. The keeper of the original document
C. A third party not named in the document
D. It depends on your state’s laws

Answer: D. Some states, such as Arizona, require the Notary to make the copy that is being certified. If state law is silent on the question, either the Notary or the keeper of the original document may make the copy. Always familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements, to ensure that you follow the law if asked to certify a document copy.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

 

6 Comments

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Cheryl Kaster

05 Jun 2017

How about the first question being, "Does your state law permit you to certify copies?" You know,, or should know, that not all states permit certification of copies and not all Notaries know that, especially in states that do not required education and not all Notaries, unfortunately, are aware enough to even question whether it is something they can do.

James Burton

05 Jun 2017

Very good questions.

maria torres

07 Jun 2017

Thank you very much.....Is very helpful to remember in how to do the notary public duties. Question: Do I have to take the test every time my licese expires?

National Notary Association

08 Jun 2017

Hi Maria. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Maria sarraff

15 Jun 2017

I am in MA. Dies my state,allowes me to certify a copy of Birth Certificates, marriage or Death Certificates?

National Notary Association

16 Jun 2017

“A notary should not certify a copy of a birth or death certificate since cities and towns have their own procedures for certifying birth and death certificates. Refer the person instead to the state Bureau of Vital Statistics or county clerk’s office in the county where the birth occurred. For foreign birth certificates, refer the person to the consulate of the country of origin” (MA Governor’s website, “Notary Public Frequently Asked Questions”).

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