ART G MADLAING: Certifying a copy of document


As accredited and commissioned Notary Public in California since 1981, I received from time to time requests for certifying documents needed  in California and in the Philippines  

How do I certify a copy of a document? The basic process for copy certification is described below. Some steps my vary depending on individual state laws:  

  1. The documents custodian requests a certified copy. The keeper of the original document (also called the “custodian”) appears before the Notary Public and asks to certify a copy of the original document.  
  2. The Notary compares the original and the copy. The custodian presents the original document and the copy so that the Notary may confirm the copy is identical to the original.  In some cases, the custodian may present the original document and the Notary may be asked to make the copy.  
  3. The Notary certifies that the copy is accurate.  Once the Notary confirmed the copy matches the original, he or she will complete and attached to the copy a notarial certificate that the copy is true, accurate and complete.  

Can all notaries certify copies? Not in every state. Some states( such as Michigan and Nebraska do not allow Notaries to certify copies of documents as an official notarial act, and some states limit the types of documents  or records that Notaries may certify.  

California Notaries may only certify copies of powers of attorney, or copies of the Notaries’ own journal entries if requested by the Secretary of State or a court.  

Florida Notaries may not certify copies of vital records  or public records if a copy can be made by the custodian of the public record.  

Texas permits Notaries to certify  a copy only if the original  is a non-recordable document. A potentially recordable document cannot be copy certified.  

If Notaries can’t certify a copy of a document, is there an alternative? An alternative procedure called “copy certification by document custodian” may be permissible.  With this procedure, the document’s custodian or holder signs a statement attesting to the accuracy of the copy, and the Notary notarizes the custodian’s signature on the statement. The difference is that rather than directly certifying the copy, the Notary is notarizing the custodian’s signature on a statement vouching for the copy’s accuracy.  

Can a Notary advise a signer regarding copy certification alternatives? Notaries must be careful not to provide unauthorized legal advice to the signer. Notaries can mention that we may perform a copy certification by documents custodian, but should not suggest or recommend it to the signer. For example, if asked to certify a copy, Notary can say,  “State law does not authorize me to certify a copy of your document. However, in this circumstance, I may be able to notarize your signature  on a written statement  in which you certify the copy.”  Notaries should not say something like, “I can’t do this and must perform a copy certification  by the document custodian instead.” The important difference here is that you may mention you can perform the procedure, and let the signer  choose that option if he or she wishes, but you should not tell the signer what to do — that could constitute legal advice Notaries aren’t allowed to give.  

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Notarized statement or Affidavit  of a copy certification by document’ s custodian if needed in the Philippines must be apostilled by the Secretary of State, Notary Public Section in Sacramento or Los Angeles to be legal, valid and binding in the Philippines.  

Mobile Signing Services (MSS)is committed and will continue to help and assist old and new clients in the notarization and apostille follow up of Affidavits, Special Power of Attorney (SPA) Extra Judicial Settlement of Estate, DEED OF DONATION, Durable Power of Attorney (DPA), Last Will, DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE and other documents needed in the Philippines and the other member nations of the Hague Apostille Convention.  

For immediate help and assistance, just write or call: MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES, 730 Madrid Street, San Francisco, CA 94112 Tel.(650) 438-3531 or (415) 584-7095 or email:  

(ART GABOT MADLAING is accredited and commissioned Notary Public and licensed Real Estate Broker in California since 1981. He is founder of MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES, FITNESS FOR HUMANITY (aka FITNESS FOR CHRIST) and ACAPINOY. He is active Evangelist with the GOLDEN GATE CHURCH OF CHRIST in San Francisco, California USA)