Guide to Certified Copies: Verification and Process

Sunday 24 December 2023
Discover what certified copies are, how to get documents certified, and the legalities involved across different regions and languages.
Guide to Certified Copies: Verification and Process

Understanding Certified Copies: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction to Certified Copies A certified copy is a duplication of an original document that has been verified as a true and correct representation by a person vested with legal authority. These copies are often required for legal proceedings, academic applications, or any official process where validating the authenticity of a document is necessary. Understanding what constitutes a certified copy, who can certify these documents, and the process involved is crucial for anyone dealing with official paperwork.

What is a Certified Copy?

A certified copy is a document that a legally authorized person or entity has declared as a true and exact reproduction of the original. The certification process involves a certifier inspecting the original document alongside the copy, ensuring all details match exactly. Once satisfied, the certifier will stamp and sign the copy, thereby endorsing its authenticity. This certification process is vital in preventing fraud and ensuring documents presented in legal affairs are legitimate and trustworthy.

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How to Certify a Document

Certifying a document involves a series of steps that must be followed meticulously to ensure the copy is legally recognized. Here's a general guide:

  1. Obtain a Quality Copy of Your Original Document: Ensure that the copy is clear, legible, and includes all information from the original document. It can be in black and white but must be an accurate representation.

  2. Present Both Documents to a Certifier: Bring your original document and its copy to a recognized certifier. This could be a notary public, a government official, or any other person authorized by law to certify documents.

  3. Certification Process: The certifier will compare the original document with the copy, and if they match, they will stamp and sign the copy, indicating that it is a certified true copy.

Certifying Documents Outside Victoria

The process and authorities responsible for certifying documents can vary based on your location:

  • Within Other Australian States or Territories: You may approach a sworn member of the police, a Justice of the Peace, or other designated officials.
  • Outside Australia: Seek out Australian consulate or embassy officials, Notary Publics, or local police members for certification services.

Documents in Other Languages

If your documents are in a language other than English, two things are required:

  1. Certified Copies of the Original Documents: Ensure the document is certified in its original language by a qualified certifier.
  2. Certified Translations: Obtain translations by an approved translator, particularly for those in Australia, where translators should be accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). The translator will certify their work, providing an additional layer of authentication.

Conclusion

Understanding the certified copy process is essential for anyone dealing with official documents in personal, academic, or professional spheres. By ensuring your documents are properly certified, you maintain their integrity and meet the legal requirements of various institutions and agencies. Always seek out a reputable and legally authorized individual to certify your documents to avoid complications in their official use. Whether you're in or outside of Victoria, or dealing with foreign language documents, being informed will simplify the process and ensure everything is in order.

List of people authorised to certify copies of original documents

Under Section 39 of the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018 (External link) (as of 1 March 2019) the list of persons who may certify copies of original documents includes:

  • A person currently licensed or registered to practice in Australia as one of the following occupations:
    • Architect
    • Chiropractor
    • Conveyancer
    • Dentist
    • Financial adviser or financial planner
    • Legal practitioner
    • Medical practitioner
    • Midwife
    • Migration agent
    • Nurse
    • Occupational therapist
    • Optometrist
    • Patent attorney
    • Pharmacist
    • Physiotherapist
    • Psychologist
    • Trade marks attorney
    • Veterinary surgeon
  • An accountant who meets at least one of the following criteria:
    • Fellow of the National Tax Accountants’ Association
    • Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
    • Member of the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants
    • Member of CPA Australia
    • Member of the Institute of Public Accountants
  • Agent of the Australian Postal Corporation who is in charge of an office supplying postal services to the public
  • Australian Public Service employee engaged on an ongoing basis with 5 or more years of continuous service who is not otherwise authorised
  • Australian Consular Officer or Australian Diplomatic Officer
  • Bailiff
  • Bank officer with 5 or more continuous years of service
  • Building society officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • Chief executive officer of a Commonwealth court
  • Clerk of a court
  • Commissioner for Affidavits
  • Commissioner for Declarations
  • Credit union officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • Employee of a Commonwealth authority engaged on a permanent basis with 5 or more years of continuous service who is not otherwise authorised
  • Employee of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission who is authorised in writing by the Secretary of DFAT to collect fees under s 3(d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955, if at a place outside Australia and in the course of the employee’s duties at that place
  • Employee of the Commonwealth who is authorised in writing by the Secretary of DFAT to collect fees under s 3(d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955, if at a place outside Australia and in the course of the employee’s duties at that place
  • An engineer who meets at least one of the following criteria:
    • A member of Engineers Australia, other than a student
    • A Registered Professional Engineer of Professionals Australia
    • Registered as an engineer under a law of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory
    • Registered on the National Engineering Register by Engineers Australia
  • Finance company officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • Holder of a Commonwealth statutory office not otherwise specified
    • For example, Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • IBAC Officers
  • Judge
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Local government Councillor
  • Magistrate
  • Registered marriage celebrant
  • Master of a court
  • Member of the Australian Defence Force who meets at least one of the following criteria:
    • An officer
    • A non-commissioned officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
    • A warrant officer
  • Member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
  • Member of the Governance Institute of Australia Ltd
  • Member of the Parliament of a State
  • Member of a Territory legislature
  • Member of a local government authority
  • Registered minister of religion
  • Notary public, including a notary public exercising functions at a place outside either the Commonwealth or the external Territories of the Commonwealth
  • Permanent employee of the Australian Postal Corporation with 5 or more years continuous service who is employed in an office providing postal services to the public
  • Permanent employee with 5 or more years of continuous service who is not otherwise specified, if employed at one of the following:
    • State
    • Territory
    • State authority
    • Territory authority
    • Local government authority
  • Police officer
  • Police reservist
  • Protective service officer (PSO)
  • Registrar, or Deputy Registrar, of a court
  • A school principal
  • Senior executive employee of a Commonwealth authority
  • Senior executive employee of a State or Territory
  • Senior Executive Service employee of the Commonwealth
  • Sheriff
  • Sheriff’s officer
  • State Trustees officer or employee with a classification level of 2 or above
  • Teacher employed on a permanent full-time or part-time basis at a school or tertiary education institution
  • Transport Accident Commission officer or employee with a classification of level 2 or above
  • VicRoads officer or employee with a classification of level 2 or above
  • Victorian Inspectorate Officer
  • A Victorian Public Service employee with a prescribed classification level of 2 or above
    •  For example, a project officer employed as a VPS4 or an administrative assistant employed as a VPS2
  • Victorian WorkCover Authority officer or employee with a classification of band 2 or above
  • Any authorised affidavit taker, including:
    • A judicial officer
      • For example, a judge or magistrate
    • An associate to a judicial officer
    • An honorary justice
    • The prothonotary or a deputy prothonotary of the Supreme Court
    • The registrar of probates or an assistant registrar of probates
    • The registrar or a deputy registrar of the County Court
    • The principal registrar, a registrar or a deputy registrar of the Magistrates’ Court
    • The principal registrar, a registrar or a deputy registrar of the Children’s Court
    • The principal registrar, a registrar or a deputy registrar of VCAT
    • The principal registrar or a registrar of the Coroners Court
    • A member of VCAT
    • A member or former member of either House of the Parliament of Victoria
    • A member or former member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth
    • A public notary
    • A senior officer of a Victorian municipal Council who meets one of the following criteria:
      • Chief Executive Officer
      • A member of Council staff with management responsibilities and reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer
      • Any other member of Council staff earning a salary of at least $124,000 (or a higher threshold, if specified by the Minister under s 97B of the Local Government Act 1989 (External link))
    • A fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives (Victoria)
    • A person acting judicially
      • For example, an arbitrator or any person or body with authority to hear, receive and examine evidence
    • Any other officer or person empowered, authorised or permitted by or under any Act or rules of a court or rules of a tribunal to administer affidavits

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