In Ontario, only a notary public is legally authorized by way of legislative mandates to certify and validate a photocopy of the original document as “certified true copy of the original document.”

Many people mistakenly assume that by the authority of certain professions or by virtue of the government offices they hold, that they are entitled to certify a document as a certified true copy. Many people still believe that for examples: doctors, principals, postmasters, clergies, engineers, police officers, accountants, bankers, city councillors, immigration consultants, and even lawyers, paralegals and commissioners of oaths have the automatic legal authority to notarize and certify a document as a certified true copy. It is true that these individuals by the authority of their offices may be guarantors or having the authority to swear a person under oaths (city councillors, lawyers, paralegals, commissioners of oaths etc.), or to endorse the document within the specific scope related to their profession and within geographic limits, and limited duration. However, in Ontario, legally they do not have the authority to notarize documents until such time that they get themselves registered or get appointed to become notaries public pursuant to legislative requirements (the Notaries Act, R.S.O. 1990). Hence, until such a time, they do not have a registered notary seal for use on the certified true copies.

The process of certifying a document requires the notary public to inspect/examine the photocopy and the original document and comparing the two documents to ensure that the photocopy is exactly the same as the original document. When the notary public is satisfied that the two documents are identical, by the authority under the Notaries Act, R.S.O. 1990, he/she will insert a certifying statement onto the document or through a cover letter certificate certifying and validating the photocopy document as the “true and accurate copy of the original document as examined on a specified date.” A signature of the notary public and his/her original notary public seal notary stamp will be signed and imprinted/embossed on the document to finalize the process. The main purpose of notarizing a document as a certified true copy is to avoid surrendering or giving up possession of the original document to certain agencies for fear of lost or damage of the original document. A notable point regarding this process is the fact that it does not certify that the original document is genuine, only the issuers of the original document (schools, universities, colleges, police offices, passport offices and other government agencies etc.) can validate the genuineness of the document. The process of certifying a document as a certified true copy merely confirms that the photocopy is the exact copy of the primary/original document.

For examples of the various documents and certificates that a notary public is often requested to certify as certified as certified true copies or notarial true copies are:
  • Certified true copy seal for a passport
  • Certified true copy seal for a driver's license
  • Certified true copy seal for a citizenship card
  • Certified true copy seal for a permanent resident card - PR Card
  • Certified true copy of university degrees and diplomas
  • Certified true copy of highschool transcripts
  • Certified true copy of university transcripts
  • Certified true copy of birth certificate
  • Certified true copy of marriage certificate
  • Certified true copy of a will
  • Certified true copy of death certificate
  • Certified true copy of criminal record background check
  • Certified true copy of letters and memos
  • Certified true copy of visas
  • Certified true copy of utility bills
  • Certified true copy of membership cards



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