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What Is A Vital Record — And Can I Notarize It?

birth-certificate-resized.jpgCustomers often ask Notaries to notarize birth certificates or marriage certificates — also known as vital records. But because of the special nature of these documents, you will have to say no. Here is more information about what a vital record is, and why they cannot be notarized.

What Documents Are Considered Vital Records?

A vital record is a government document containing information about a person’s important life events. Examples of vital records include birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates. In the United States, vital records are typically issued and maintained at the county or state level by offices such as a county clerk or recorder’s office, registrar’s office or vital records office.

Can I Notarize A Vital Record?

Customers most commonly ask if Notaries can certify a photocopy of a vital record. Unfortunately, Notaries cannot do this. The reason is that a copy certification requires the Notary to certify that the copy is a true and accurate reproduction of the original document. However, original vital records documents are kept by the government agency that issues them. Only that agency is authorized to issue certified copies of the vital record in question — Notaries are not authorized to make copies or certify copies of vital records.

However, if a customer wishes to sign a document to request a copy of a vital record from a government agency, you may notarize the customer’s signature on the request document, provided that the notarization request meets all requirements of your state’s Notary laws.

Can A Vital Record Be Used To Identify A Signer?

A signer may ask to use a birth certificate as proof of identity for a notarization. Many states, including California, Florida and Texas, do not allow this. Even if not specifically prohibited in your state, a birth certificate is not a reliable form of ID because it lacks the signer’s photo and signature, and any physical description of the signer as a baby on the certificate is useless for verifying the signer’s identity.

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

Additional Resources:

NNA Notary Hotline





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Mike S

08 Jul 2019

If the state allows for self-attesting statements about documents to be notarized, can that be notarized for a vital record?

National Notary Association

22 Jul 2019

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Cindy Ivester

09 Jul 2019

Regarding a vital record notarization. Isn't it possible to attach a jurat to the letter wherein the customer declares the document is a true copy of the original? In this way, the notary isn't actually notarizing the document itself. Thank you for your clarification.

National Notary Association

23 Jul 2019

Hello. Normally, the original version of a vital record is held by the recording agency that issued it, and only that agency is authorized to certify copies of the original vital record.

Carla Swenson

09 Jul 2019

Thank you for the info

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