- April 20, 2023

What if I need a certified copy of a document but don’t have the original?

It is not uncommon to encounter situations where a certified copy of an original document is required. The process to obtain a certified copy is typically simple. Bring the original document (e.g., your driver’s license) to the notary’s office, where the notary will create a photocopy and apply their seal and stamp, verifying that they have seen the original and the photocopy is an accurate representation of it.

However, what if the original document is unavailable, either because it has been misplaced or never issued, as in the case of some long-form birth certificates? In such instances, the notary cannot confirm that they have seen the original. Nevertheless, if the document’s owner (i.e., the client) knows or believes their document to be a true copy of the original, it is possible for the client to sign a brief oath, swearing or affirming the copy’s accuracy. The notary can then administer this oath. It is important to note the distinction between the first scenario, where the notary confirms the copy’s authenticity, and the second, where the client attests to its accuracy under oath.

In most cases, this alternative method of certifying a true copy will be accepted by the recipient. However, as a precautionary measure, we always recommend that clients confirm with the intended recipient whether this form of notarization will be sufficient before visiting our office.

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