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 Can I notarize a birth certificate?
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crtowles

California
539 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2010 :  3:44:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ok lets get it straight. In California, a notary CANNOT certify a copy of any vital record. PERIOD. This includes a copy of a birth certificate, death certificate, etc. They must be directed to the county clerk for a certified copy. Just because a person makes a copy and swears under oath that it is a copy does not mean it is so. This is why they must get a certified copy. This insures the recipient that it has not been altered in any way. With regards to Wills, a notary can notarize a will and is NOT prohibited from doing so but they are advised to tell the client requesting this service that an attorney should have either prepared it or looked it over before doing so. Because it could be thrown out if not worded properly. Again I say-read your handbooks people....
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jbelmont

California
2626 Posts

Posted - 05/06/2010 :  11:26:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbelmont's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The NNA's California notary law primer states that copy certification by document custodian is a way to notarize documents that a notary is not permitted to certify as a legitimate copy themselves. However, it is not appropriate to use copy certification by document custodian for vital records.

It seems inappropriate, but not illegal to have the signer swear to the legitimacy of their copy of a vital record. Many of them insist. Its better to point them towards a government office for a legitimate copy, but customers can be very heavy handed.

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vince

Kansas
324 Posts

Posted - 05/06/2010 :  12:00:59 PM  Show Profile  Visit vince's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I believe the Kansas Notary Handbook is clear on the subject of vital records:

"Certifying Copies: The notary certifies that the document
is a true and correct copy of the original document.
The notary public must be presented with the original
document and make the copy so as to ensure that the
copy is in fact a true copy of the original. This procedure
should not be used for publicly recorded documents as the
notary public cannot obtain the original. Original documents
on file with an office/entity must be certified by
that entity
(i.e., court documents are certified by the
court clerk who retains the originals; corporation documents
filed with the Secretary of State’s office are certified
by the secretary of state; birth/death certificates are
certified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,
Office of Vital Statistics, which maintains the
original records
, etc.).
"
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PWinFL

Florida
469 Posts

Posted - 05/06/2010 :  06:44:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit PWinFL's Homepage  Reply with Quote
When someone needs a copy of a birth certificate, or other vital record, there is an underlying reason. That reason usually is because some agency needs it. For example, when applying for a passport or to receive death benefits, or for a foreign country visa or other situation where an apostille or document legalization would be needed. By allowing the custodian of the document to make a copy and to attest that it is a true, correct and accurate copy is probably, imo, misleading the custodian allowing them to think that the copy they have and the notarized affidavit would suffice, when in all probability it would be rejected causing delays and possible some financial implication.

By definition, a photocopy of a document, judgment, or record that is signed and attested to as an accurate and a complete reproduction of the original document is considered to be a certified copy. Typically, certified copies of documents can only be used (in court cases) when the original is not available. In other situations, especially when dealing in foreign agencies, not only must the document be certified, it also must be authenticated and often legalized. The authentication process, by the state's State Department and/or by the US State Department, only accepts copies of vital records certified by the holder of the original record and/or document, e.g. Bureau/Department of Vital Statistics.

Thus, I disagree with your statement, "Since our 'Copy by document custodian' is spelled out word for word by the SOS, I don't think anyone who truly has a legitimate need for an 'official' (by what ever name attached) would confuse one for the other." I truly do think that the public in general would not and do not, from my own experience, understand the difference between a certified copy and an attested copy.

Finally, (correct me if I'm wrong) the verbiage on the "Copy by Document Custodian" states: "... I certify that the preceding or attached document is a true, exact, complete, and unaltered photocopy from the original document of _____________________ (description of document) ..." As we all know, the copy of a vital record that one gets is not an "original" document, but a certified copy. Therefore, the custodian of the copy is making an invalid statement. And, if the notary knows a document or statement in an affidavit is not true, then the notary cannot notarize the signature of the custodian.

This whole thread may seem academic to many, but having my own customers provide me with what they thought to be a "certified copy" has caused quite a delay in processing their requests. To me, it is not academic, but reality. The general public often does not know or understand what needs to be done when they make a request for service. It is the notary's duty to not only perform the notarial acts as authorized by law, but also, as a public official, to educate the public.


Never drive any faster than your guardian angel can fly.

I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida,
and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.


Visit us online at http://www.PAWnotary.com
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cnaylor

California
32 Posts

Posted - 05/06/2010 :  12:46:07 AM  Show Profile  Visit cnaylor's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vital records, and CA Copy certification by document custodian.

From state approved 6 hour course workbook... "Notaries must serve anyone who makes a lawful and reasonable request for a notarization (G.C. 8205 & NPH)" Setting aside the legality of vital records for a moment, determining appropriateness, or need, of notarizing a document is not legal. I've notarized many documents, that really didn't need to be for any legal reason; but mine isn't to judge, just to serve and be paid in such circumstances.

quote:
Originally posted by PWinFLTo wit: "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. (Health & Safety Code section 103545)" (CA Notary Handbook, 2010, pg 16)


"Notarized" vs "Certified"

Using your argument regarding vital records, the first sentence in the the section of the NPH your relying on for your argument, which you left out, states notary public may only certify copies of POA's and their own journal. Following your argument, the state mandated wording for the "CA Copy Cert..." document serves no purpose, because we don't have the authority to use it. So not only would Vital records be out, but so would any other use of the document, there by it's existence useless.

I beg to differ that a "certified copy" and a "notarized" statement by a constituent, are the same thing. Since our "Copy by document custodian" is spelled out word for word by the SOS, I don't think anyone who truly has a legitimate need for an "official" (by what ever name attached) would confuse one for the other.

quote:
Originally posted by PWinFL[i]Therefore, if someone approaches a notary public asking them to notarize their signature on an affidavit that states that they (the signer) made the copy and attests to it being a certified or otherwise a true and accurate copy would be wrong to do so since the statutes, policies and procedure issued by the state do not allow copies to be made except by those authorized to do so.


Nowhere in the wording of the "CA Copy Cert..." does it state it is a "certified (copy)sic" or other words used in other posts such as "original", "official", or a "copy of an extract (or data)" or any other non-factual claim argued. They're only stating the "reproduction... is a true, correct, and complete photo copy of a document in my possession". Are we to infer in your argument about what they have, by what ever name you wish to apply, is not a "document"?

The notary makes no claim as to what the document is, it's originality, or it's officialdom, the constituent makes all claims.

So since I don't think the documents creation was pointless, and therefor your argument valid, by Notarizing the constituents statement, how exactly is it we're providing an unauthorized "Certified Copy"?

Craig/CA

Edited by - cnaylor on 05/06/2010 01:16:28 AM
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PWinFL

Florida
469 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2010 :  05:02:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit PWinFL's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jbelmont

Its not up to the notary to make LEGAL decisions such as what types of documents a client can swear an oath about.

I submit that refusing to notarize a vital record, whether or not the custodian of that copy provides an affidavit that states it is a copy, is not a LEGAL decision at all. It is adhering to the practices and directives of the state. The CA Notary Handbook states unequivocally that only the state may issue certified copies. To wit: "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. (Health & Safety Code section 103545)" (CA Notary Handbook, 2010, pg 16) Other states have similar statements in their statutes, policies or procedures and manuals.

Therefore, if someone approaches a notary public asking them to notarize their signature on an affidavit that states that they (the signer) made the copy and attests to it being a certified or otherwise a true and accurate copy would be wrong to do so since the statutes, policies and procedure issued by the state do not allow copies to be made except by those authorized to do so.

Again, this is not a legal decision, but abiding by the statutes which govern what a notary (and others) are authorized to do and what they are not authorized to do.


Never drive any faster than your guardian angel can fly.

I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida,
and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.


Visit us online at http://www.PAWnotary.com
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jbelmont

California
2626 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2010 :  10:55:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbelmont's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Its not up to the notary to make LEGAL decisions such as what types of documents a client can swear an oath about. The signer has to decide on their own what to do. So long as the notary is not breaking notary law or giving legal advice, I consider it to be okay. The notary might suggest that the signer go to the department of vital records. There is no harm in making practical and non-legal suggestions. Generally the signer insists that they need it notarized and won't take no for an answer. I got my education on the streets while other notaries often only know what they teach in their course which leaves you high and dry once you enter the real world.

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vince

Kansas
324 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2010 :  08:07:46 AM  Show Profile  Visit vince's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Another way to look at this is whether the entity ultimately asking for the copy will accept a notarized copy. For instance, let's say a notary wrongfully certifies a birth certificate. In many cases, the entity will understand the lack of capacity for the notary to certify a "vital record" and summarily reject it. But, if it is accepted (let’s say by a foreign entity), damage may have been potentially done to the person submitting the copy and the notary certainly should share whatever blame for the improper work when eventually it is discovered the document was improper. Just my opinion.
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PWinFL

Florida
469 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2010 :  05:23:32 AM  Show Profile  Visit PWinFL's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Maple


There are other documents that are extracts of information on file with official agencies, such as passports and driver's licenses. But we're allowed to certify copies of those.


I disagree. A passport and a driver's license is an ORIGINAL document. It is not a copy of a document that is on file from which the data is extracted. The information content of those documents is derived from completely different documents which are not archived. Only the data is archived.

With vital records, and many public records, the original document is filed and it is from those documents that copies are made or data is extracted.

The statute affecting who is authorized to produce the "certified copy" is Title 12, §1692 - Certified copies of public records admissible

Unless otherwise provided, a certified or photographic copy of a record or document required by statute to be kept by a public official shall be competent evidence in a court in this state. Such official shall be a certifying officer for such purpose.

Further, the Vermont Notary Guide explicitly states: "A notary may certify that a copy of an original document is a true copy. 24 V.S.A. §445. This applies to any document of a personal nature. It does not apply to vital records, such as birth, marriage, death or divorce records."


Never drive any faster than your guardian angel can fly.

I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida,
and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.


Visit us online at http://www.PAWnotary.com

Edited by - PWinFL on 05/04/2010 07:32:16 AM
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Maple

51 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  8:11:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As for the information on the Vermont SOS web site, I'm aware of that, that is where the manual I mentioned in the original question is. Nowhere on that site is there any pointer to any law that forbids copy certification of birth certificates.

I find the explanation that it is a copy of the original certificate to be unconvincing. After all, the short birth certificates are extracts, not copies. They are not necessarily informational copies; Barack Obama's birth certificate is only an extract, not a complete copy. As for whether they would be sufficient for certain international transactions, it isn't our concern what the requester wants to do with the certified copy. If it does not accomplish the requester's intended purpose, that's his problem.

There are other documents that are extracts of information on file with official agencies, such as passports and driver's licenses. But we're allowed to certify copies of those.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's good public policy to not allow notaries to certify copies of vital records. If we find a legal way for Vermont notaries to do that, I will promptly write to my state representatives and senators asking to plug the hole. But I would like to know the reasoning behind the SOS's position.
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Sylvia_FL

Florida
46 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  5:35:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Sylvia_FL's Homepage  Reply with Quote
from your secretary state's website:

Can I certify a copy of my friend's birth certificate as a true copy?

No, you may not. Certified copies of vital records (birth, marriage and death) may be obtained only from the custodian of those records. See our section on Vital Records on how to obtain certified copies of vital records


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PWinFL

Florida
469 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  5:34:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit PWinFL's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Maple,

Sorry, but in Vermont, as well as most if not all other states, only the registrar of the original registration certificate of birth (and other vital records) can create a "certified copy". The following is an excerpt from the Vermont Secretary of State, Deb Markowitz, Notary Resource Center, FAQ.
quote:
Can I certify a copy of my friend's birth certificate as a true copy?

No, you may not. Certified copies of vital records (birth, marriage and death) may be obtained only from the custodian of those records. See our section on Vital Records on how to obtain certified copies of vital records.
(Source: http://vermont-archives.org/notary/faq/notaryfaq.html)

The reason being, is that a "birth certificate" that people get, is a copy of the original registration. Information printed from the archive database usually is considered an "informational" copy and may not be used for some legal proceedings or accepted for international trade where the document must have an apostille or notary certification by the state's Department of State.


Never drive any faster than your guardian angel can fly.

I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida,
and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.


Visit us online at http://www.PAWnotary.com
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Maple

51 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  4:42:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sylvia, maybe you're right, but I'm not convinced. The relevant Vermont law (Title 24) says

§ 445. Powers

Every notary public is empowered to take acknowledgements, administer oaths and affirmations, certify that a copy of a document is a true copy of another document, and perform any other act permitted by law.

Even though the notary manual says original document, that isn't what the law says. Also, the manual does not explain what original document means.

Furthermore, not all birth certificate are copies of the originals. Some are extracts of computer databases. Some are extracts of the full certificate, that is, while the original gives information such as how much prenatal care the mother had, the short certificate just gives the name, birth date, and birth place.
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Sylvia_FL

Florida
46 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  3:28:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit Sylvia_FL's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Because it would be a copy of a copy!!! The original is with the office of vital records (or whatever it is called in each state), so only the registrar can certify it is a true copy of the original.

quote:
Originally posted by Maple

The Vermont notary manual says notaries should not certify copies of vital records. Although I will follow that advice if anyone ever asks me to do that, I am curious to know what law forbids it, or what other reason the manual authors have for giving that advise.



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Maple

51 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  1:30:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The Vermont notary manual says notaries should not certify copies of vital records. Although I will follow that advice if anyone ever asks me to do that, I am curious to know what law forbids it, or what other reason the manual authors have for giving that advise.
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PWinFL

Florida
469 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  05:04:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit PWinFL's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I completely disagree, Jeremy, and totally agree with Lisa. A birth certificate is a copy and must be authenticated and certified by the issuing authority. A copy attested to by anyone of a certificate of a vital record is flawed, since CA, like FL, does not allow the attestation of a copy, only original documents. Birth, death and marriage certificates, plus others, are copies provided by the issuing agency and therefore cannot be copied and attested to.

According to the CA Dept of Health, "authorized copies of vital records can only be obtained by the individual named on the record, parents of the individual named on the record, and certain other individuals or entities specified in law. All other requestors can only obtain informational copies. All copies issued are 'certified copies.'"


Never drive any faster than your guardian angel can fly.

I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida,
and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.


Visit us online at http://www.PAWnotary.com
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jbelmont

California
2626 Posts

Posted - 05/02/2010 :  8:35:22 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbelmont's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Its really up to the signer to decide what the original is. Clients will request this of the notary, so just as long as the notary doesn't break any laws, and the signer does the "certifying", its legal.

Obviously, its better to get an official copy from the city or county recorder who is the custodian of these documents. But, clients often don't have time for that.

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Lisa T.

California
391 Posts

Posted - 05/02/2010 :  6:16:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit Lisa T.'s Homepage  Reply with Quote
<<<The signer can swear an oath on a statement regarding a copy of a birth certificate where they swear that its a true and correct copy.>>>

The vital record the consumer gets is itself a copy, it is not an original so they cannot write their own statement that it is a true and correct of an original. To just say it's a true and correct copy....true and correct copy of what? According to the CA handbook, vital records can only be certified by the county registrar. If a customer needs copies of their vital record (birth, marriage, death certificate), they must order as many certified copies as they need from the county registrar.


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jbelmont

California
2626 Posts

Posted - 05/02/2010 :  2:49:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbelmont's Homepage  Reply with Quote
A notary can not certify copies of a birth certificate.
Our teacher in the notary course I took many years ago kept stressing that you can't notarize a birth, marriage, or death certificate -- or a will. However, I kept getting clients who wanted me to notarize these documents, so I had to figure out what I could legally do.

The signer can swear an oath on a statement regarding a copy of a birth certificate where they swear that its a true and correct copy of the original. This way it is the signer doing the certifying, NOT the notary -- which makes it okay. This type of statement is often written on a Jurat certificate which needs to be sworn to and signed by the signer as well as the notary. Another form commonly used is the copy certification by document custodian.

Please see:
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?certified-copy-by-document-custodian

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