CapitolIn late July, the California Secretary of State’s office announced that the Business Programs Division was making a change to the way they certify documents. Instead of attaching a separate certification page, state workers began applying certification by way of a stamp on the back of the final page of a document. Many other state filing offices have recently made similar changes to their certification procedures.

A certified copy used to be pretty fancy. Even just a few years back, it was common for certified documents to include foil seals and full-color printing on bonded paper; some even contained a ribbon or elaborate fastening device. These days, most filing offices are opting for simpler certification options such as the back page stamp method adopted in California or black and white certificates.

These new certification styles emerged for a couple of reasons. First, the extravagant certification pages we used to see were expensive to produce. Across the U.S., drastic budget cuts forced state filing offices to find innovative ways to cut costs. One way they reduced spending was by adopting new economical solutions for certifying documents. Advancing technology also played a role in evolving certification techniques. As states began to allow certified documents to be printed from their websites, it became necessary to develop new strategies for applying certification. Today, most certified documents issued from an online source will include a verification code that can be used to confirm the document’s authenticity.

Some of these new ways of certifying documents can make it difficult to determine if you have the original in hand. When interacting with copies from a state filing office, remember to check the backs of pages and watch for verification codes, If you still aren’t sure, check the state’s website for their specific certification practices or contact a service company that specializes in the filing and retrieval of corporate documents.

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