Obtaining Certified Copies of Your Documents Is Frustrating Experience in CA and Most States


Every day in California (and all over the rest of the US), thousands of people are asked to obtain a “certified copy” of their passport or drivers license (as proof of their identity) or a utility bill (as proof of their address) by having it “certified or notarized” by a CA notary public or other state notary. These certified copies are typically needed for business or government domestic or international transactions. These requests often come from other countries outside the US where this request is commonplace.

Unfortunately, almost all US states, including California, do not allow notaries do carry out this much-needed task and this policy creates a great deal of chaos. The notary has to explain to the person requesting it that they can have the person on the copied document make and sign a self-attesting statement that the copy is a true and correct photocopy (using the official form shown to the left) and then the notary can notarize that statement and signature.The notary cannot make the statement themselves that it is a true photocopy or true copy.  The signer will usually want to check with the receiving authority that they will accept this alternate method. The lawyers and bankers from the other countries often cannot understand why this is a such a problem here when they do it every day in their country for a multitude of customers. The receiving authority usually agrees to it as they don’t really have much choice, but it is quite a hassle and can be quite time-consuming to resolve. These notarized documents also usually require a CA apostille when being sent to another country (or state dept certification if not going to an apostille country), when notarized by a CA notary.

This then begs the question, why can’t CA notaries and other state’s notaries be given the authority to compare a copy and an original and certify that it is a true copy? Notaries are public officials sworn to take oaths of signers and acknowledgements and are given a great deal of responsibility to identify signers. Why couldn’t they be given the added responsibility to carry out this task? There is a giant vacuum in this area as thousands of organization around the world need these certified copies for a large variety of transactions and, yet, there is no one designated to carry out this much-needed task in most states in the US. It’s time US or state government officials stepped up and instilled some common sense into this broken system and made this right.