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

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 a crucial tool used to guard against fraud.

Who can certify documents in South Africa?

Typically, the list will include notaries, attorneys, advocates, and commissioners for oaths. In some instances, it includes a wide range of persons including accountants and magistrates.

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 the full name of the 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 securely 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 South Africa, only a notary can notarise documents. Only notaries may 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 need to use a Notary Public.

They have undergone a two-year training course covering key aspects of 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 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 South Africa
You do not need to be based in South Africa to get your documents certified in South Africa. You can 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 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. Several trusted professionals can complete it; 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 South Africa. South African 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 proof of address certified to open a bank account?
Do you need your educational certificates certified for a new job?
Contact us today at 0736869078 or email law@louwrenskoen.co.za.co.za to get your documents certified by experienced and highly professional notary publics.