Notarized vs. Certified Records

Rebekkah Shaw Records Management

Today, let’s look at the difference between a notarized and certified record.

A notarized record is simply a record signed in the presence of a notary.

Records are notarized to prevent fraud, as the notary ensures those signing a document have verified their identity. The notary then signs and attaches their seal to the record. After the record is signed, a notary certificate is attached to the record. Notaries do not authenticate the contents of the record.

A certified record is a copy of an original record verified to be a genuine copy and may be used as the original.

A record can be certified by a notary and other government officials. According to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, only “[n]otaries, county recorders, custodians of vital records, and certain other public officers [such as court clerks] may officially certify copies as agents of the government.” ( )  These would have some sort of official seal on the record, other than a notary seal. A certified copy does not ensure the original is genuine, only that it is a true copy of the primary document.

For example, a birth certificate could be notarized IF the doctor and parents signed the certificate in the presence of a notary. That would be a lot of work. It is more common to get a certified copy of a birth certificate. An original birth certificate would be copied by a vital records custodian.

We hope to assist record officers in the meaning of some commonly used, and commonly misused terms found in information management. Please comment below to give us suggestions for future posts!