Colorado RULONA Notary Training classes include the process of how to notarize a certified copy. A notary may make a certified copy of an original document, but the document must not be a vital record, a public record document, or a document that may be publicly recorded, available from a clerk and recorder of public documents, the Secretary of State, the state archives, or a document that is marked “do not copy” or is prohibited from copying.
Certified copies of vital records may not be made by a notary. Copies are available directly from government agencies and document custodians that keep those vital records, including birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce records.
The most common types of certified copies made by a notary include powers of attorney, contracts, leases, bills of sale, financial statements, health assessments, passports, and driver’s licenses (caution: illegal to copy in some states: MI, TX, WI).
The U.S. State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) section 7 FAM 886 states that there is no prohibition against photocopying or certification of true copies of the identity page of a U.S. passport.
Sources of Certified Copies
Court records may be obtained from the court clerk. County records, including copies of real estate deeds, may be obtained from the county clerk and recorder. City records may be obtained from the city clerk. Some public records are available online, on government websites.
School and college records, such as student grades, course transcripts, and diplomas, may be obtained from the school registrar.
For internal business records, contact a company officer or the secretary. A business may include a Business Records Affidavit signed by the record-keeping custodian.
For business registration records, such as a corporation, LLC, tradename, or trademark, filed in Colorado, see the online records of the Business Division of the Secretary of State’s website. They issue free Certificates of Good Standing, Certificates of Existence, and Certified Copies of business records instantly, signed by the Secretary of State, including the Great Seal of Colorado and a verifiable confirmation number, on their website at Colorado business registration records.
You may verify the status of over 50 types of professional, occupational, and business licenses regulated by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Division of Professions and Occupations for free on their website at Colorado professional license verification. License types not listed there, such as real estate, insurance, or law, are verified by other state agencies.
Electronic records and documents may be obtained from the original issuer or custodian of the electronic records. They can print a copy and certify it as genuine.
As blockchain electronic records become more common, a Blockchain Records Affidavit may be issued by the record-keeper.
Do Not Copy Certain Documents
Do not copy a Social Security card or an immigration card, permanent resident card, green card, or other documents issued by USCIS. Contact the issuing agency or the recipient for help. Effective August 1, 2014, Social Security stopped providing Social Security Number (SSN) printouts. USCIS can issue a Certified True Copy of a Certificate of Naturalization with the seal of USCIS.
Warning: Under federal law,18 U.S. Code 1426, there are criminal penalties for making, printing, or reproducing a certificate of arrival, declaration of intention to become a citizen, or certificate of naturalization or citizenship, or any part thereof, without lawful authority.
According to Federal law, do not make copies of military ID except for military use.
Do not copy documents marked “Do Not Copy”.
It would also decline to make copies of documents that are marked Confidential, Classified Information, Trade Secret, or similar notice of restricted content.
Even though your state notary laws may authorize you to make certified copies, you may not make certified copies of certain documents if there are other laws or regulations that prohibit anyone except the authorized records custodian from making certified copies.
Model State Vital Statistics Act (MSVSA)
Under Section 28 of the 2011 version of the Model State Vital Statistics Act and Model State Vital Statistics Regulations, adopted by many states for uniformity and security, only agencies authorized by state law may issue certified copies of vital records. To prevent fraud and errors, registrant information must be verified in the vital records database, and all certified copies issued shall have security features that deter the document from being altered, counterfeited, duplicated, or simulated without ready detection.
Many states also make a conspicuous note in the birth record if the registrant is deceased, to prevent criminals from misusing the identity of a dead person.
To prevent identity theft and impersonation, certified copies of vital records may only be issued to a qualified applicant, and require a copy of the applicant’s government-issued identification card. Qualified applicants include the registrant, his or her (spouse, domestic partner, civil partner), child, parent, [sibling, grandparent, grandchild,] legal guardian, legal representative, the qualified applicant’s authorized representative, or a government agency in the conduct of its official duties, not to the general public.
If a notary is making a certified copy of a document, it may not be required to verify the identity of the customer, because no document is being signed, only a copy of a document is being made. Colorado law 24-21-505(4) does not require the requestor of a certified copy to provide satisfactory evidence of identity. CRS 24-21-506 does not require the customer to appear in person for a certified copy because the customer is not making a sworn statement or signing a document. There is no restriction on who may make a request for a certified copy, so the document holder may be a criminal who has stolen a birth certificate.
MSVSA Section 28 (r): No person shall prepare or issue any paper or electronic document which purports to be an original vital record, a certification or a verification of a vital record, or a copy of a vital record except as authorized in this Act or regulations adopted hereunder.
[A notary is not authorized to make a certified copy of a vital record. Below are examples of several state vital records laws that restrict the making of authorized certified copies to the state vital records agency. A notary may be subject to fines or jail for making unauthorized certified copies of vital records, in violation of state or federal laws. Notary insurance does not provide coverage if the notary is violating the law.]
Arkansas statute Ark. Code Section 20-18-305 Issuance of certified copies and data from system of vital statistics (11) – No person shall prepare or issue any certificate which purports to be an original, certified copy, or copy of a vital record except as authorized in this chapter or rules adopted pursuant to this chapter.
California Health and Safety Code, Section 103545 Authority to make certified copies – Certified copies of birth, fetal death, death, and marriage records may be made only by the State Registrar, by duly appointed and acting local registrars during their term of office, and by county recorders.
Connecticut statute Section 7-62a. Illegal issuance of certificates. No person other than a registrar of vital statistics or the commissioner shall issue or cause to be issued any certificate or document which is, or purports to be, an original or certified copy of a certificate of birth, death, fetal death or marriage. Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than one hundred fifty dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Florida statute 382.025, Certified Copies of Vital Records, (4) Certified Copies of Original Certificate – Only the state registrar, local registrars, and those persons appointed by the department are authorized to issue any certificate which purports to be a certified copy of an original certificate of live birth, death, or fetal death.
Georgia statute Ga. Code Section 31-10-26 Issuance of certified copies of vital records (d) – No person shall prepare or issue any certificate which purports to be an original, certified copy or duplicate of a vital record except as authorized in this chapter or regulations adopted under this chapter.
Kansas statute 65-2422d. Disclosure of records (g) – No person shall prepare or issue any certificate which purports to be an original, certified copy or abstract or copy of a certificate of birth, death or fetal death, except as authorized in this act or rules and regulations adopted under this act.
New Hampshire statute 5-C:98 Vital Records Copies – I. A vital record may not be issued, duplicated, sealed, or notarized by any persons other than the division or clerks of towns and cities. These restrictions shall not apply to vital records in the public domain unless a certified copy is requested.
II. Certified copies of vital records shall be issued to the public only by the state registrar or a clerk of a town or city in accordance with this chapter.
Pennsylvania statute 28 Pa. Code Section 1.44 Penalties for unauthorized duplication – no person may photograph, photostat, duplicate or issue what purports to be a certified copy, certification or certificate of birth, death or fetal death except for authorized employees of the Department of Health or its local registrars of vital statistics.
Texas statute Health and Safety Code Title 3. Vital Statistics, Chapter 191. Administration of Vital Statistics Records, Subchapter C. Copies of Records, Section 191.051. Certified Copies. (a) Subject to department rules controlling the accessibility of vital records, the state registrar shall supply to a properly qualified applicant, on request, a certified copy of a record, or part of a record, of a birth, death, or fetal death registered under this title.
(b) A certified copy issued under this subsection may be issued only in the form approved by the department.
Wisconsin statute Chapter 69 Collection of Statistics, Subchapter I, Vital Statistics
69.24 Penalties. (1) Any person who does any of the following is guilty of a Class I felony:
(a) Other than as authorized under sections 69.21(2)(d) and 69.30(3), prepares or issues any paper or film which purports to be, or carries the appearance of, an original or a copy of a vital record, certified or uncertified, except as provided under this subchapter or section 610.50.
Certified Copy Request Form
Colorado RULONA notary law no longer requires the customer to give the notary a signed, written certified copy request form. The request form states that a certified copy of the document is not available from a clerk, recorder or custodian of documents in this state, and, making a certified copy of the original document does not violate any state or federal law.
RULONA Certified Copy Certificate
If the customer needs one certified copy, as a best practice, the notary may request permission to keep a copy in notarial records for evidence.
The notary will certify each copy given to the customer, by stamping or securely attaching a signed RULONA certified copy certificate, indicating the notary has carefully compared the original document with the certified copy, and the copy is complete and accurate.
As a best practice for fraud prevention, the notary should include a description of the original document so the notarial certificate may not be attached to a different document.
The certificate wording is:
I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a record in the possession of _______________, dated _______________, 20_____.
[For historical reference here is the old certified copy certificate used before RULONA laws became effective on July 1, 2018.]
The transaction is recorded in the notary journal. The original document and the certified copy are returned to the customer.
Best Practice Record Storage Tip: The paper copy kept by the notary should be made on acid-free archival paper for long-term storage and stored in a controlled environment in the notarial archive, according to best practices for the preservation of paper records. A fireproof, waterproof safe should be used as disaster protection for storing notary journals and records.
Note: Colorado law does not specifically mention color regarding certified copies. It is not clear that if the original document is in color, if the certified copy must also be made in color, or if a black and white copy is acceptable. Contact the Secretary of State or an attorney for more information.
Colorado RULONA Notary Training includes Colorado statute CRS 24-21-505(4), which describes the procedure for making a certified copy.
[For historical reference, Colorado statute CRS 12-55-120 was used for making a certified copy before RULONA laws became effective on July 1, 2018.]
NNA Model Notary Act, Section 2-4 Copy Certification
[Note: The Model Notary Act is not Colorado law, but is used as a reference for best practices. It includes provisions for copy certification of paper or electronic documents. Metadata may include important information about the style, size, and spacing of the typeface used. They might also include past edits and revisions that have been made to the electronic document.
Metadata may be very useful to know whether a certified copy of an electronic document is the same metadata of its original. Metadata may include a computed hash value, based on the document content. To check file integrity, if any character in the document is altered or corrupted in storage or transmission, the computed hash value will not match the stored hash value.]
“Copy certification” means a notarial act in which a notary:
(1) locates or is presented with a paper or an electronic document that is neither a vital record, a public record, nor a recorded document;
(2) compares the document with a second paper or electronic document that either is:
(i) presented to the notary;
(ii) located by the notary; or
(iii) copied from the first document by the notary; and
(3) confirms through a visual or electronic comparison that the second document is an identical, exact, and complete copy of the image or text and, if applicable, metadata of the first document.
Certified Copy Certificate
A notary shall use a certificate in substantially the following form in notarizing a certified copy:
[State] of __________
[County] of ________
On this ______ day of ________, 20___, I certify that the (attached or following paper document)
(affixed, attached, or logically associated electronic document) has been (visually) (electronically) confirmed by me to be a true, exact, and complete copy of the image (or text)
(and metadata) of ________________(description of original document),
(presented/e-mailed to me by ___________________,) (found by me (online) at _______________________,) (held in my custody as a notarial record,) and that, to the best of my knowledge, the copied document is neither a vital record, a public record, nor a publicly recordable document, certified copies of which may be available from an official source other than a notary public.
(official signature and seal of notary)
Copy Certification by Document Custodian
If the notary is unauthorized to make a certified copy for you, you may consider using a Copy Certification by Document Custodian. The document custodian certifies that the copy is a true and correct copy of a record in their possession.
[Last-Modified Date 2023-09-05] added Model State Vital Statistics Act, certified copies of vital records prohibited