7 FAM 860


(CT:CON-933;   10-04-2022)
(Office of Origin:

7 fam 861  state laws limiting practice of certification of true copies

(CT:CON-933;   10-04-2022)

a. Some states in the United States provide that notaries public may execute certifications of true copies of documents.  Many U.S. states, however, have eliminated this as a function of notaries due to concern about security and fraud.  U.S. state laws do not govern the Department of State’s ability to provide certifications of true copies as a notarial service, although certain state authorities may not accept such documents.

(1)  See the Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest volume for the U.S. state in question.  This is available to U.S. Department of State personnel via Lexis/Nexis, which you can access by contacting the U.S. Department of State Library Lexis/Nexis Page.

(2)  Consult the web page for the National Association of Notary Public Administrators (NPA) for updates on state rules and restrictions;

(3)  You may also contact L/CA.b. Avoid Certifying True Copies of Public Documents:  Refer Inquirer to Custodian of Records:  If the document is a public document, such as a birth, death, marriages or divorce record, a notarizing officer should direct the inquirer to the custodian of records in that state or other jurisdiction.  Certain states may not accept certified true copies and the inquirer may wish to determine if one would be acceptable for their purposes. See HHS/NCHS Where to Write for Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce Records.  


Note: CA/OCS is aware that in international adoption, for example, a notarized certified true copy of a birth, death, marriage, divorce decree is not acceptable in many foreign jurisdictions.  Applicants must obtain copies certified by the official custodian of the public records.  See country specific adoption information material on the Intercountry Adoption section of  travel.state.gov.  For consular reports of birth or death, see h travel.state.gov under Records and Authentications.

7 fam 862  sworn or affirmed statement by the bearer

(CT:CON-933;  10-04-2022)

a. Sworn or Affirmed Statement by the Bearer:  An alternative to a certified true copy is for the requester to make a sworn statement that the document presented is a true copy (see 7 FAM 850).  This is a process whereby an individual makes a sworn statement declaring that a copy is an exact reproduction of an original document he or she possesses.  This is also known as a “Copy Certification by a Document Custodian.”

b. Notarizing officers should ask the following questions before performing this function.


(CT:CON-933;  10-04-2022)

a. Foreign Public Documents:

(1)  Is it possible for the applicant to obtain a duplicate original or certified true copy of the document in the host country from the custodian of records?

(2)  If the answer to (a) is “no,” has the applicant presented adequate evidence that the document is required for use in the United States or required by a foreign government?

b. U.S. Public Documents:

Are certified true copies of documents, including vital records (birth, death, marriage records, etc.) acceptable in the jurisdiction where the document will be used?