True Copy (Certified Copy) of a Document

Revised: 2018-03-12

True copy (or certified copy) of original documents are often needed to make sure that copies submitted are true, exact, complete and unaltered.

Most states allow a notary public to certify a true copy of non-recordable documents. Birth certificate, marriage license, deed, court documents are recordable documents and usually should be obtained directly from authorities. On the other hand, passport, green card are "non-recordable documents" and you may obtain a true copy from a notary.

In this page, we will first discuss how to obtain true copy from a notary, then discuss how to obtain authentication of the true copy document from Chinese consulate.

I. How to obtain a true copy from notary: Basic requirements

In general, a simple "true copy" word with a stamp and signature of the notary public is NOT enough for the purpose of document authentication in a Chinese consulate. It must be done following strictly the wording and procedure defined by the Secretary of State of each state, which may differ slightly from state to state. Detailed information may be available from the notary handbook or the Office of Secretary of State of each state.

Here are the basic requirements for some states.

Louisiana Does not allow a notary public to certify true copy. Follow the "Connecticut" example.
Mississippi Does not allow a notary public to certify true copy. Follow the "Connecticut" example.

However, "nothing in this section shall prohibit a Notary from notarizing a signature on a document which has a copy of an official government document embedded or attached as an exhibit."

Florida, Georgia Allow a notary public to certify true copy, but the notary public must make the copy, or supervise someone to make the copy.
Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas Allow a notary public to certify true copy.

Special requirement at Chinese Embassy in Washington DC

From November 2017, if you do true copy of passport, green card or similar documents, and the notary acknowledgment is on a separate page, the consulate requires that the "true copy" word stamped or written on the copy of the document, and both you and the notary sign on the copy. If the notary acknowledgment is on the copy of document itself, then no special treatment is needed.


Sample wording for certifying photocopies:

State of Arkansas
County of ____________

I, ______[Name of Notary]_______, certify this is a true and perfect copy of the original document _______[insert type of document]______ presented to me on this ______ day of _________, 20___.

Notary's Signature _____________
My commission expires: ___________
                                                                [Seal of Office]


Example for attestation of a copy of a document:

State of Oklahoma
County of ____________

I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document in the possession of _____________________
Dated _________________

(Signature of notarial officer)
(Seal, if any)

Title (and Rank)
(My commission expires: )
(My commission # )



State of Texas
County of _______________

On this __________ day of __________, ___(year)___, I certify that the preceding or attached document, and the duplicate retained by me as a notarial record, are true, exact, complete, and unaltered photocopies made by me of _____(description of document)_______, presented to me by the document's custodian, _______________, and that, to the best of my knowledge, the photocopied document is neither a public record nor a publicly recordable document, certified copies of which are available from an official source other than a notary.

Notary Public's Signature

(Personalized Seal)


A notary public may make attested photocopies if the following criteria, found in 117.05(12)(a) 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.

F.S.A. 117.05(12)(a)

A notary public may supervise the making of a photocopy of an original document and attest to the trueness of the copy, provided the document is neither a vital record in this state, another state, a territory of the United States, or another country, nor a public record, if a copy can be made by the custodian of the public record.

A notary public must use a certificate in substantially the following form in notarizing an attested copy:

COUNTY OF __________

On this _____ day of __________, ___(year)____ , I attest that the preceding or attached document is a true, exact, complete, and unaltered photocopy made by me of ______(description of document)______ presented to me by the document's custodian, ____________________, and, to the best of my knowledge, that the photocopied document is neither a vital record nor a public record, certified copies of which are available from an official source other than a notary public.

(Official Notary Signature and Notary Seal)
(Name of Notary Typed, Printed or Stamped)


Please use this PDF version: Georgia copy certification by notary public.

North Carolina


I, _______________________________ (document owner), do hereby swear or affirm that the attached is a true copy of ________________________________________ (description of document) and that this copy contains no alterations from the original.

____________________________________ Principal’s signature

North Carolina
County of _______________

I, __________________ , a Notary Public for _______________ County, North Carolina, do hereby certify that ______________________ (Name of principal) personally appeared before me this day and acknowledged the due execution of the foregoing instrument.

Witness my hand and official seal, this the _____ day of _____________, 20___.

(Official Seal)

Official Signature of Notary ___________________________

Notary Public Notary’s printed or typed name _________________________

My commission expires:_______________________

PDF version available here or:



State of Wyoming
County of __________

I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document entitled ________________________ (Title of document) in the possession of ________________________ (Name(s) or Person(s)).

Dated _______________________


Signature of Notarial Officer __________________________

Title (Notary Public or Rank if military officer) ____________________________

My commission expires: ________________


Under Connecticut law, notaries have NO AUTHORITY to prepare "certified" or "true" copies of any documents. It is a very common request and notaries should be prepared to meet such requests in a helpful manner. The Office of Secretary of State of CT recommends that all notaries use the following procedure:

The notary should request that the person presenting the document make a photocopy and prepare a written statement, that may be attached to or written on the photocopy itself, stating that it is a true copy of the original. The individual then verifies under oath, administered by the notary, that the statement is true. The requesting party signs the statement in the notary's presence and the form of jurat that appears under Sec. 4.9, is attached and completed by the notary.

II. Authentication of true copy: basic procedures

authentication procedure: notarized documents
Fig 1, Authentication procedure for notarized documents. Please read the text below for details.

1. Take your original document to a notary and get a true copy. This new document (certified copy), including the notary certification page, is called "original" document for the purpose of authentication.

1a. Some states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland) require the notarized document to be sent to the notary public's county clerk for verification before presenting to the respective Office of Secretary of State.

You must do county step yourself if needed.

2. Certify by the Office of Secretary of State in the state where the document is notarized.

  • We begin providing service for this step from September 2012.

3. (DC Chinese Embassy states only) Authenticated by US Department of State

  • This step is needed only if the document is to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC, i.e. for documents from DC, DE, ID, KY, MD, MT, NC, ND, NE, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY.
  • If your document is from other states, it will normally go to other Chinese consulates in US, and thus do not need this step.
  • We recommend that you let us help you with this step.

4. Certified by the Chinese consulate or Embassy.

  • We can help you with this step.

III. Steps to apply for authentication through YWPW

We can help you obtain document authentication, including Secretary of State step, US Department of State step and consular step (Houston consulate and DC Chinese Embassy). We accept applications for documents from the following states:

  • Chinese Consulate in Houston covers: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, OK, TX, PR
  • Chinese Embassy in DC covers: DC, DE, ID, KY, MD, MT, NC, ND, NE, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY

If your document is from a state not listed above but you would like to use our service, you may always choose to do an extra step, i.e. authentication by US Department of State, then the document can authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in DC.

  1. Please fill out the online order form of our agency.
  2. Print the confirmation page. You order ID, our mailing address, payment information (including credit card payment) and other instructions are shown on the confirmation page.
  3. Mail us the documents listed in the "Documents needed" section below.
  4. Tell us the time and method you mailed your documents, including tracking number, so that we can track the movement of your mail.
  5. Upon receiving your documents, we will check your application, and contact you if there is any issue. We then submit your application to the consulate, pick it up, and mail it back to you.
  6. We update your order status by email and online when we: a). receive your documents; b). submit your application to the consulate; c). pickup and mail back your documents. We usually send emails and update status in the evening hours, but if there is anything goes wrong, we may contact you during the day.

IV. Processing time and fees

  1. The consular authentication step takes about 1 week, and the consular fee is $25 per document.
  2. The US Department of State authentication step also takes about 1 week, and the DOS fee is $8 per document.
  3. The time for the Secretary of State certification step varies, but normally 10-15 days. The SOS fee ranges from $2 to $25 per document.
  4. We charge a service fee of $56.96 per document for each step invloved (volume discount available if more than 2 documents).
  5. Expedited services are available with extra fees, see calculations below.
Business document Num of copies Consular fee Service fee Processing time
Consular authentication processing 25 44.96 4 business days
Secretary of State certification 2-25 44.96 10-15 days
US Department of State authentication 8 44.96 4 business days
Subtotal: (excluding shipping fees)
Please note:

    1. There may be delays at the consulate. If your schedule is tight, please be sure to check the latest updates on processing time on our Home page.

    2. The fee calculation does not include costs of shipping to/from the office of Secretary of State and shipping documents back to you ($8-32 each). The acutal charge will be according to our current fee schedule or your order confirmation page.

    3. In general, the Secretary of State and US Department of State do not offer expedited service.

V. Documents needed to apply for authentication

  1. One Authentication Application Form. The form must be completed and signed by the applicant.
  2. Photocopy of the applicant's passport (page with name and photo).
  3. If you are not a US citizen, please also provide copy of your current immigration document (e.g. green card, I-20, H1B).
  4. The "original" document to be authenticated.
  5. The "photocopy" of the "original" document to be authenticated.
    • If you have already done the Secretary of State authentication, the copy should include the state certification page. Please do NOT take them apart when making copies -- doing so will invalidate the document.

Disclaimer: All information provided on this web site, through email communications, or over the phone, are for reference only and do not constitute legal advice. We shall not be held responsible if loss or damage occurs. Please seek legal advice from law professionals for your document authentications if needed.

Created: 2008-03-15
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Document can only be authenticated at a consulate based on the state that issued the document, not where you live now.