What’s the difference between a notarized document and a certified document?

Notarized Documents: A Mark of Verification

What Is a Notarized Document?

A notarized document is one that has been signed in the presence of a Notary Public. The primary purpose of notarization is to verify the identity of the signer and ensure that they willingly signed the document. Notaries serve as impartial witnesses to the signing, confirming that the signature is genuine.

When Are Notarized Documents Used?

Notarized documents are commonly used for various legal and financial transactions, including:

  • Real estate transactions
  • Wills and estate planning
  • Powers of attorney
  • Loan agreements
  • Affidavits

Key Characteristics of a Notarized Document:

  • Presence of a Notary Public during signing
  • Verification of the signer’s identity
  • Notary seal and signature

Certified Documents: Proof of Authenticity

What Is a Certified Document?

A certified document is a copy of an original document that has been verified and authenticated by an authorized entity, often a government agency or a court clerk. Certification confirms that the copy is a true and accurate representation of the original.

When Are Certified Documents Used?

Certified documents are typically used when the original document is required to remain unchanged, such as:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Academic transcripts
  • Court records
  • Government-issued identification documents

Key Characteristics of a Certified Document:

  • Authentication by an authorized entity
  • A statement or certification attached to the copy
  • Confirmation of the copy’s accuracy and authenticity

Key Differences: Notarized vs. Certified Documents

1. Purpose:

  • Notarized documents verify the identity of the signer and the authenticity of their signature.
  • Certified documents authenticate copies of original documents.

2. Role of a Notary Public:

  • A Notary Public plays a key role in notarizing documents by witnessing and verifying signatures.
  • In the certification process, a Notary Public may notarize a document if required, but the primary certification is done by an authorized entity.

3. Content Alteration:

  • Notarized documents focus on confirming the authenticity of the signature but do not necessarily prevent alterations to the document’s content.
  • Certified documents aim to maintain the integrity of the document’s content by certifying the accuracy of the copy.

4. Document Types:

  • Notarized documents are used for various legal and financial transactions.
  • Certified documents are typically copies of vital records, academic transcripts, and government-issued documents.


Understanding the distinctions between notarized and certified documents is essential for providing accurate notary services. While notarized documents focus on verifying signatures and identity, certified documents authenticate copies of original documents. Both serve critical purposes in different contexts.

At Notary Public Class, we offer comprehensive Notary Public classes that cover essential topics like these, equipping you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in your role. If you have further questions or wish to enhance your notary education, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us or Enroll in Our Notary Public Class today. We’re here to support your growth as a knowledgeable and capable Notary Public.

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