Why You Need To Certify Documents

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Why You Need To Certify Documents

A “certified copy” is a copy of an official primary document that has on it an endorsement or certificate that it is a true copy of the primary document. A certified copy does not certify that the primary document is genuine, only that it is a true copy of the primary document.

A certified copy is often used in English-speaking common law countries as a convenient way of providing a copy of documents. A certified copy may be required for official government or court purposes and for commercial or administrative purposes.

Why the need for certified copies?

The reason people want certified copies is to check that the original documents or ID books are genuine. This is to avoid fraud, where people can make up certificates and documents on the computer that looks real.

A certified copy also avoids the owner of important documents (especially identity documents) giving up possession of those documents which might mean a risk of their loss or damage.

Why you need to certify documents

How to certify your documents

Take your original documents as well as the photocopies to your nearest police station, post office, or lawyer’s office. Ask them to certify the documents, and they will stamp them.

  • Some places may have a limit on how many copies they will certify so you may want to phone and check first.
  • Some places insist that a document should be certified within three months of application so you need to check that too.

Where can you certify documents

You can have copies of original documents certified at any police station, at any time.

  • You must provide your own copies.
  • You must provide the original documents when requesting to have copies certified.
  • Copies will not be certified if the original documents are not produced for verification.

Alternatively, you can have copies certified at the following places:

  • Lawyers or notary public (who are members of a recognised professional body)
  • Actuaries or accountants (who are members of a recognised professional body)
  • Members of the judiciary
  • Directors, managers or company secretaries of a bank or regulated financial services business

The person certifying the copies shouldn’t be:

  • Related to you
  • Living at the same address as you
  • In a relationship with you

What is a notarised copy of a document?

A notarized translation is signed by the translator in front of a notary, who adds their signature and stamp to provide proof of the authenticity of the translation. A certified translation does not need to be signed in front of a notary.

Let us assist you

We assist clients with the legalisation of all South African public documents and has a dedicated courier service to DIRCO. Due to the different legalisation procedures, we would advise that applicants first contact our offices to obtain a quotation based on the specific documentation that must be legalised.

Speak to us for professional advice

Contact us today

If you need legal advice or drafting of a legal document feel free to get in touch with us, we’re more than happy to help you with your query

Jonell Delport

Immigration Attorney & Notary Public



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