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Attesting to Photocopies

In Florida, notaries are authorized to attest to the trueness of photocopies of certain documents. Although commonly known as certified photocopies, the notary law refers to these documents as
attested photocopies. A notary public may make attested photocopies if the following criteria, found in section 117.05(12) of the Florida Statutes, are satisfied.
■ The document must be an original document. A notary public cannot make an attested photocopy from a photocopy, or from another certified copy.
■ The document cannot be a public record, certified copies of which are available from another public official. If a certified copy can be obtained from the official source, then the notary public should decline the request.
■ The making of the photocopy must be supervised by the notary public. It is not sufficient for the notary public to compare the photocopy with the original document. The notary public must actually make the photocopy or supervise another person while he or she makes the photocopy.

notary publicAfter making (or supervising the making of) the photocopy, the notary should complete a notarial certificate in substantially the same form as prescribed by law. This notarial certificate should be typed, stamped or written on the front or back of the photocopy or may be attached as a separate page.
One of the most often asked questions concerning attested photocopies is whether a particular document is a public record. Notaries must make a determination about this question before attesting to the trueness of any photocopy. The following documents are examples of public records, copies of which cannot be attested to by a notary:

■ Birth certificate
■ Marriage certificate
■ Death certificate
■ Certificate of citizenship or naturalization
■ Documents filed in a court proceeding
■ Documents recorded by the Clerk of the Court
■ Public records maintained in government offices
■ Student records (transcripts, etc.) kept in public education offices
■ Federal or state income tax forms, already filed
■ Professional licenses issued by the State of Florida
■ Any document for which photocopying is prohibited

This is not a complete list of public records. If the document is issued by a government entity, the notary should contact that entity to determine whether a certified copy is available. If one is available, then the notary public must decline to make an attested photocopy. Additionally, the notary should ask the person if the document has been filed in a court proceeding or in the official records at the courthouse.

The following documents can be photocopied from the original (if not officially filed or recorded) and attested to by a notary, because certified copies cannot be obtained from another public official:
■ Florida driver’s license
■ Florida vehicle title
■ Social Security card
■ Diploma
■ Medical record
■ U.S. passport
■ Bill of sale
■ Contract
■ Lease
■ Resident alien card
■ Personal letter