Certification is the act of confirming the validity of a document.

When applying for something like a mortgage, bank account or a new job abroad, you may be asked to provide a certified copy of a document. Certified copies are an important tool used to guard against fraud.

In the UK, fraud has been the number one crime for the past 30 years and according to the UK’s Fraud Prevention Community, £190 billion is lost to fraud each year.

Who can certify documents in the UK? Certification can be performed by the person or organisation who issued the document or by a third party. For example, a bank may certify copies of bank statements they’ve printed, or a solicitor may certify a copy of a passport. A list of acceptable third parties is often provided by the organisation requesting the certified document.

Typically, the list will include notaries, solicitors and commissioners for oaths. In some instances, it includes a wide range of persons including accountants, FCA professionals, magistrates and chartered surveyors. 

Which Professions Can Certify Documents in the UK?

Your document should be certified by a professional or someone of good standing in your community. 

People often ask whether the police can certify documents or whether a chartered surveyor can certify documents. The following professions are all able to certify documents in the UK:

  • Notary Public
  • Commissioner for Oaths
  • Solicitor
  • Bank or Building Society official
  • Chartered Accountant
  • Chartered Surveyor
  • Dentist
  • Doctor
  • Minister of Religion
  • Councillor
  • FCA regulated person
  • Post office official (through the post office’s certification service)
  • Member of Parliament, or Scottish/Welsh/Northern Ireland Assembly Member
  • Serving police officer
  • Social worker
  • Embassy, consulate, or high commission officer in the country of issue

*The above list is not exhaustive. 

The person certifying the document should not be related to you, living at the same address, or in a relationship with you.

Different professions will charge different prices to certify a document. You may wonder whether a bank will charge to certify documents. The answer is yes. How much the bank charges or what a doctor will charge to certify documents will likely be different to that charged by a solicitor or notary public.

You should check directly with the professional at the outset to find out the cost. The cost can vary depending on the skill and expertise of the professional, how much work is involved, where the professional is based, and whether the document is to be used outside of the UK.

It is always advisable to check with the organisation that needs the certified document. They may have their own requirements as to who can certify the document. For documents to be used outside of the UK, certification by a notary public is likely to be required.

How Is Certification Done?

You will need to provide the certifier with the original document. They will then make a photocopy of the original and certify the photocopy. 

The exact wording of the certification can depend on the organisation requesting the document. Different organisations, particularly from different countries, often have different requirements.

Documents With Photos

When certifying the document with a photograph, such as a passport, driving licence or ID card, the certifier will write the following:

  • Write “Certified to be a true copy of the original seen by me” on the document
  • Write “‘I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name of individual as appears on the document].’
  • Sign and date it
  • Print their name
  • Add their occupation, address and telephone number

Documents Without Photos

For all other documents without photos the certifier will write the following:

  • Write “Certified to be a true copy of the original seen by me” on the document
  • Sign and date it
  • Print their name
  • Add their occupation, address and telephone number

Multiple Pages

If the document has multiple pages the certifier may write the certification on the first page and state how many pages are included in the certified copy.  Alternatively, if required the certifier can sign and stamp each page of the certified copy.

The certifier will secure attach or bind multiple pages together to ensure they are not tampered with.

What if You Don’t Have the Original Document?

If you do not have the original document, certification can still be completed if you can provide the certifier with evidence of the source of the document. For example, if you have an electronically issued bank statement or utility bill, you will need to show the certifier how you log in to the app or website of the bank/utility company and then download the PDF of the document.

If the document was only issued to you via email, you will need to show the certifier the original email in which the document was attached as a PDF. The certifier may then also need to contact the issuer to confirm that the document was in fact issued by them.

Notarial Certification

Certification by a notary is called notarial certification or notarisation. In the UK, only a notary can notarise documents. Banks do not offer notary services.

A notary public can certify a copy of a document. The notary may either attach a separate notarial certificate containing the certification or write the certification on the photocopy itself.

Notarial certification will include a notary seal impression on either the notarial certificate or photocopy. The notary seal is unique to each notary and provides evidence that the notary has certified the document. The use of a notary seal dates to antiquity and, prior to the introduction of ink stamps, was the main method of certifying documents.

Why Is a Notary Public Certification Preferred?

A Notary Public is a professional specialising in the certification of documents. If you are going to use the document abroad, you will most likely need to use a Notary Public.

They have undergone a two-year training course covering key aspects in the certification process for use across jurisdictions. Notaries will be able to explain the certification process in detail, and ensure it is completed correctly. Notaries are internationally recognised and are regarded as the highest level of authentication in most countries. 

How to Certify a Translation

Any translation should be accompanied by a written statement from the translator.

  • The following statement, or something similar should be written on the document: “true and accurate translation of the original document”
  • Sign and date it
  • Print their name
  • Add their occupation, address and telephone number

If the translation is to be used abroad, you will likely also need a notarial certification. If the notary didn’t translate the document, they will only be able to certify a copy of the translator’s certified translation, or confirm the authenticity of the translator’s certified translation.

Certification from Outside of the UK

You do not need to be based in the UK to get your documents certified in the UK. You can post or courier your original document to us and we can complete the process for you.

You may not even need to post the documents to us. If you send us a scan of the document, we may be able to verify the authenticity of the document directly with the issuer and provide a relevant certification.

Contact us and we can advise on how best to get your document certified.


Certification of documents is an essential process in the business world. It can be completed by several trusted professionals; however, it is always best to check the requirements of the organisation asking you to get it done to see who they will accept certification from.

Notarial certification is the highest level of certification you can get and is typically required for documents used outside of the UK. Notaries are legal professionals specialising in certification and will carry out any verification needed to ensure your document is correctly certified.

Do you need your passport, or a proof of address certified to open a bank account? Do you need your educational certificates certified for a new job?

Contact us today on 020 7630 1777 or email info@notary.co.uk to get your documents certified by experienced and highly professional notary publics.