Is a copy of a notarized document acceptable?


Notarization is an important process that helps ensure a document is valid and legally binding. When you notarize a document, you ensure that the signers are who they say they are and have provided their signatures freely in accordance with local state law. But while an original of a notarized document can be legally enforced in all 50 states, is a copy of a notarized document acceptable legally?

While there are some circumstances where a copy of a notarized document may be necessary, such as when you are applying for a job outside of the country, certain requirements must be met. In this brief guide, we will take a look at everything you need to know about whether copies of notarized documents are legally permissible.

What is a notarized copy?

A notarized copy of a document is a physical copy made of a previously notarized document, which is notarized again when the copy is produced. The document that has been copied is often referred to as the original or “true” copy.

A notarized copy must be made per the notarization laws of the state in which it is copied. In order to be considered a certified copy, the notarized copy must contain a notary seal verifying the original notarization is valid.

In some situations, you have to get a copy of a notarized document or a notarized photocopy. Situations where you may have to get a notarized photocopy include submitting passports, valid IDs, driver’s licenses, and diplomas abroad for work or academic purposes. When you use a notarized photocopy or get a certified copy, make sure to understand what a public notary can and cannot do for you.

In hindsight, the public notary “only” certifies and verifies the copy of an actual document. So, don’t assume that a public notary authenticates and solidifies the original document. For instance, if you land a job in Europe, you will probably have to notarize a copy of your diploma and ID.

But instead of direct notarization, the public notary would mark the signature with a seal. And that’s because it is not up to the notary to investigate and validate the authenticity of the original document. The marked seal shows that a copy of a notarized document is legit and stems from the actual document.

Do you need to notarize a copy of the original document? 

Some documents are required to have copies notarized, though this is not true for all types of documents. Important documents related to identity verification, business, and legal practices, and financial documents typically require notarization to make copies.

Documents that require copies to be notarized often contain sensitive personal or legal information or directives, which require verification and protection against fraud. Notarizing a document copy helps guarantee that a document’s legality is upheld regardless of circumstances.

Usually, when you think about the need to notarize a copy of an original document, you probably think about the hassle of dealing with a public notary in person. Luckily, these days anyone can take advantage of a modern and client-centric platform like PandaDoc Notary to notarize a copy of an original document.

You can follow the standard process to notarize a document. But understand that the online notary agent would use marked seals rather than directly notarizing a document. If you’re good at virtual communication, you will find remote notarization more convenient than the in-person notarization process.

Is a copy of the notarized document acceptable?

Copies of notarized documents can be accepted. However, if there is a hint that the copy of a notarized document is tempered with – it won’t be accepted.

When you physically or virtually present a copy of an original notarized document, it fuels the discourse on whether or not it was tempered. The truth is that there is no 100% guarantee that the copy of an original notarized document isn’t tempered with.

So, how does the public notary conclude that the copy of a document has the same seal and sign as the original document? Well, a lot depends on the intuition of the public notary and the skill to cross-reference original and copied documents.

For instance, when you want to notarize multiple documents containing sensitive information, you cannot use copies certified of the actual documents for notarization purposes. Also, get familiar with your state’s current notarization laws and whether or not it allows people to notarize copies of original documents.  

And instead of looking for a black-and-white answer, take into account the situations and exceptions where you can use a copy of an actual document to initiate the notarization. Generally, states are cautious and thorough about the notarization process to avoid potential fraudulent activities.

Is a certified copy the same as a notarized document? 

Before diving into the notarization, understand the fundamental difference between notarizing and certifying copies of documents. It is the best way to save time and resources and avoid confusion later on. Of course, it is natural to get prepared and ensure your valuable piece of a document does not get caught under the state’s new terms, laws, and regulations.

Notarized documents and certified copies

Whether it’s a certified copy or a notarized document copy, there is more or less no difference. Besides, public notaries are not just waiting to receive a copy of a copy. When a legal or government organization asks for a copy of an original document, you can expect them to be specific about whether or not you should bring a notarized copy or an actual document.

Most confusion comes down to differentiating between a notarized copy and a certified copy. A certified copy includes copies of important documents that people usually receive from an official custodian like a county clerk. However, the terms of the notarized and certified copy are often interchangeable. Typically, the focus is on the copies that require notarization or certification so that the public notary can execute the task.

When is it legally acceptable to submit a copy of a notarized document?

Depending on your unique situation, you can legally submit and ensure acceptance of a copied and notarized document. But if you already possess a notarized document and decide to make a copy, you’re bound to run into legal issues. Instead, check the guidelines and laws of your state about making a copy of a specific document and whether or not it would get accepted by the third-party notary public.

When can a copy of a notarized document be rejected?

There is more than one situation where you risk rejection of a notarized document. Here are some situations where a notarized copy of a document most likely gets rejected:

  • Failure to communicate with the notary public about the contents of the document can lead to rejection. Also, make sure the public notary understands the degree of responsibility to certify or verify the copy of a document.
  • Notary terms can expire before the notarization of a document can start. However, you risk rejection when the notary’s seal is not valid.
  • A document can be rejected if an original document and copy were notarized and the notary’s seal is not on the submitted copy.
  • If there is a direct or indirect indication that the notarized copy of a document is tempered, it will likely be rejected.

What else? Partial notary seal

If the seal on the copy of a notarized document is partial rather than a full seal, it may be rejected.

How to notarize documents with PandaDoc Notary?

If you want to notarize a legal, business, or academic document, you need to take a few simple steps to initiate the notarization. Unlike in-person notarization, the remote notarization process on the PandaDoc Notary platform is more straightforward and convenient for people.

When you want to avail a notary certificate, understand the prerequisite state requirements specific to the document you want to notarize. If you find the notarizing documents too complicated, seek guidance from a public notary or an online notary agent.  

On PandaDoc Notary, here’s how you can follow through remote notarization of a document:

Step 1: Create a new notarization request

Inside PandaDoc Notary, click “New request.” Upload your file (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, JPG, or PNG) or select a document from the PandaDoc workspace.

Step 2: Add participants

A commissioned notary will be assigned to your session. You can add more participants by inserting their email addresses. They will receive an email to join the session.

Step 3: Prepare your document

Prepare your document for notarization. Add all the required text, date, and signature fields. If a notary prepares the documents for you, you can skip this step.

Step 4: Add a message

Send an email to the notary and participants providing context about the document and notarization session.

Step 3: Notarize

Review the document with all the participants in a live audio-video session. The notary will apply a digital signature and stamp to complete the online notarization.

Leverage the best aspects of remote notarization

Usually, finding a suitable public notary to notarize a document can take hours or days. But on the PandaDoc Notary platform, people easily find notaries online and move forward with the notarization immediately.

When dealing with remote notarization, follow the best practices and trends. In fact, take advantage of new features on PandaDoc Notary to make notarizing documents cost-effective and efficient.

Before you dive deep into the notarization, make sure you know the kind of document you want to notarize and use only an acceptable form of identification. Similarly, ensure your documentation is valid and complete. For starters, double-check whether or not you’ve fulfilled all the requirements and ensure witnesses and a public notary is present at the time of signing a document.

Final thoughts

Whether it’s a commercial lease, legal affidavit, passport application, mortgage document, certified copy, employment contract, or articles of incorporation, it is crucial to notarize documents for business, shared, and independent purposes.

Remember, there is a reason states and the National Notary Association mandates documents notarized – it sets a legal precedent to propel a transaction head in the right direction. From the get-go, understand that the state “expects” you to submit the original document to process a transaction.

Notarizing documents is about having someone validate and verify your personal identity at the time of signing a document. If you don’t want to get caught in the cobweb of submitting a copy of a notarized document valid, make sure your original notarized document is not lost or damaged.

Why choose PandaDoc Notary?

PandaDoc Notary platform brings remote notarization into the fold. Unlike in-person notarization, which takes a lot of time and resources, remote notarization cuts out technicalities. For the sake of convenience, PandaDoc Notary supports the notarization of electronic and digital documents.

Once you notarize a document on PandaDoc Notary, you will notice it saves significant time, energy, and resources than a traditional in-person notarization. After you find an online notary agent, it is only a matter of time before you can get a document notarized online.

While traditional notarization has been a standard for decades, it runs into many issues and drawbacks. But on PandaDoc Notary, you can follow a straightforward process to notarize documents and communicate with an online agent through the process.


Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions by people about documents notarized online:

Can you notarize scanned documents?

Technically, a scanned copy of a notarized document is a copy. In fact, the last thing you should do is presume that the state would accept a scanned document for notarization. But if you intend to scan a notarized piece of document, make sure to get in touch with the involved parties to find out whether or not they will accept it.

Is a certified copy as good as the original?

Contrary to misguided perception, a certified copy is not authenticated and verified like an original document. In fact, only the actual document works as a true copy of a document. But remember that you can create a certified copy out of an actual document.

Is notarization done on original documents?

The answer to this question depends on the document you want to notarize. For the most part, you don’t have to notarize every copy of an original document. But documents like diplomas, important financial transactions, and identification forms can be notarized on a copy.

But to facilitate these situations, signers need to locate an available physical notary. If you don’t want to jump back and forth from different places to find a suitable notary, use a modern platform like PandaDoc Notary to notarize a copy of a document. Like the physical notarization process, you can communicate your concerns, conditions, and queries to an online notary service agent.  

Who can certify the true copy of a document?

A notary public can supervise when you create a photocopy of an original notarized document. In fact, having a public notary present allows you to demonstrate the trueness and validity of a copy. In retrospect, you need a professional notary agent to certify or verify your documents. People often make sure the person who certifies and verifies documents has a good standing in the local community.