The most common act performed by notaries is the witnessing of a document’s signing, also known as the document’s execution. The notary public verifies the signer’s identity, ensuring he or she is who they claim to be, and then watches as the person signs the document. Depending on the state’s requirements (notarial acts vary from state to state), the notary public may place a notary seal on the document as well.
Certified/Attested Photocopies: Defined
One of the lesser-known the notarial acts, however, is the certification or attestation of a copied document. In this act, the notary public certifies or attests (hence the name) that the photocopy of a document is indeed a true copy of the original document.
The notary public doesn’t take an acknowledgment or administer an oath when performing this act, but instead he or she verifies that a photocopy is a complete and true copy of the original.
When a notary public performs this task, he or she may either personally create the photocopy, or he or she may verify the contents of an existing photocopy created from a client. It’s important to note that a notary public is in no way swearing to the accuracy of the contents of neither the original document nor the certified photocopy.
As with most notarial acts, the method in which a notary public certifies a photocopy varies depending on the state’s statues. In some states, the notary public may only certify a photocopy if he or she witnesses its creation, whereas other states allow notaries to certify photocopies by comparing it with the original. Once the photocopies is confirmed as a true and honest copy of the original, the notary completes and attaches his or her notarial certificate.
States which allow appointed notaries to make certified and attested copies of a document include the following:
- California (restricted to power of attorney and journal pages)
- Colorado (restricted to documents containing a signed request stating that copy certification services are not available from the officer)
- District of Columbia
- Florida (notary public must be physically present during the actual photocopying of the document)
- Georgia (notary public must be physically present during the actual photocopying of the document)
- Hawaii (restricted to protests and journal pages)
- Kentucky (restricted to protests)
- Maryland (restricted to register pages)
- Montana (restricted to records issued or filed in the job)
- Nevada (copy certification of public documents like birth certificates and divorce decrees are prohibited)
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- Oregon (copy certification of public documents like birth certificates and divorce decrees are prohibited)
- Texas (notaries are prohibited from certifying true copies of recordable documents)
- Virginia (notaries are prohibited from certifying true copies of birth, death and marriage certificates.
- West Virginia