Can a Notary Certify a Copy of a Passport or a Driver’s License?

Many people are traveling outside the US for both business and pleasure trips, and they must abide by the laws of various countries when crossing international borders. As we become more mobile, certifications of certain identity documents are necessary – including notary certification of passports and state-issued documents, like driver’s licenses and identification cards. While you might be generally aware of the role of a notary public, it’s important to understand how notarization of these documents is handled.


General Rules on Notary Copy Certification:

When travel requires you to submit  “a notarized copy” of your passport or government issued identification card, the term refers to a notary copy certification. Whether you can obtain a copy certification for these documents depends on the laws of the state where you reside. Please note that publicly recorded documents cannot be notary copy certified in any state. These would include birth and marriage certificates, certificates of naturalization/citizenship and records maintained by government offices. However, passports and government issued IDs do not fall under this rule.


States Where Copy Certification is Allowed:

In some states, a notary public does have the power to issue a notary copy certification of an ID document, including passports and authorized identification cards. Where allowed, the notary professional must follow the rules governing notarial activities within their state. Typically, this will require the notary public to verify the identity of a person presenting the copy of the passport or ID and supply the notarial seal.


States Where Copy Certification is Prohibited:

If you live in a state where notarial certification is not allowed, there are a couple of options that a notary public may offer – though these are not considered a notary copy certification.

  1. Request to Federal Government: You can contact the US Department of State Foreign Affairs (USDOSFA) obtain a copy of your passport records. When you submit your request, you’ll receive:
    • A cover letter verifying your birth place and date;
    • Your original passport application with color photo;
    • An official certificate bearing the seal of the USDOSFA, with a signature of the US Secretary of State that certified that the documents constitute a true and correct copy of your passport records.
  1. Sworn Statement of Requestor: You can present an affidavit along with your passport, wherein you swear, under oath and before a notary public, that the passport is a true and correct copy. It’s important to keep in mind that the notary public is only notarizing the affidavit and your signature: He/she is not providing a notarized copy of your passport.

Whether you can use the services of a notary public to certify your US passport or state-issued identification will depend on the laws of your state. If you do live in a jurisdiction where a notary public can legally certify these documents, you should choose the right professional to handle your transaction. Look for notary services that are dedicated to providing quality customer care and know the laws regarding proper execution of passports and state IDs.

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