A common question we receive is “What is the difference between a Notarized Copy and a Certified True Copy?” The answer? Nothing.
Although some organizations may accept copies that have been certified by someone other than a Notary Public, normally if a Certified True Copy is required, it must be certified by a Notary. This is almost invariably true when the documents are crossing international borders.
Certified True (or Notarized) Copies are the only service a Notary Public can provide you without a signatory present. Instead, the Notary requires only the original document to be present. You could send it by mail or courier, if you want. It cannot, however, be sent by email, even if that is how you received it. Emails are far too easily ‘spoofed’, thus must be verified by some outside means. So, for example, if your bank statements are emailed to you, you can print them out and have your bank stamp them. Then the stamped papers are original documents for the Notary to make certified copies from.
The Notary is certifying that the copy is a true reproduction of the original document presented, not that the original document presented is valid. For example, having a certified copy of a Will does not prove the Will was properly executed.
“So why do I need it?”, you ask? Certified copies are usually required for entirely practical reasons.
Having a Notary Public check a copy, or make it themselves, makes it more difficult to alter the copy afterwards. Thus the recipient of the copy can be reasonably assured that the copy is genuine. They are more reliable than a simple photocopy.
Typically, certified copies are required to include with applications of some kind, such as for a job, admission to a university, or a professional or trade licence. Most often, the required documents are identification, such as Passports, Driver’s Licences and Birth Certificates, or Academic, such as Degrees, Diplomas, Transcripts, or Trade Certifications. If you are applying to more than one organization, it is impractical to send your original documents to all of them.
As you might imagine, Certified True Copies are normally requested when it is impractical for someone to verify a copy for themselves. This is particularly true when documents are sent over a distance, or where the volume of documents to be verified by an organization is too large to be verified internally. Often they are simply used to guard against losing the original document, or having to return it.