British Birth Death and Marriage Certificates – No-one may copy them

British Birth Death and Marriage Certificates – No-one may copy them.

As an English Notary, I am very often asked to assist people in England who need to produce documentation for use in foreign jurisdictions. Of course, the requirements of foreign jurisdictions are many and various and so it should not be too much of a surprise to find that occasionally there are contradictions between what is needed abroad – on the one hand – and what is permitted in England – on the other.

One example of this arises when I am asked to produce notarially certificated COPIES of UK documents. These are often needed in order to obtain a visa for work or settlement in a foreign country.

In particular in the United Arab Emirates and in Canada (and no doubt in several other countries) the requirement often includes a request for COPIES of birth certificates or of marriage certificates to be produced. In respect of clients needing to resolve matters after a relative’s death abroad – perhaps wanting to obtain the release of money in a foreign Bank – the requirement often is for a COPY of a death certificate to be notarised and then Apostilled.

However, the rules of Crown Copyright require that no-one may place an official birth death or marriage certificate on a photocopier and press the button. If they do, a Notary Public is certainly not allowed to add a certificate to it. The actual rule is to be found at and its consequence is that a Notary can only certify an “Original” certificate.

Many of the clients I see have the actual birth certificate which their parents were given at the time of the birth – or the marriage certificate handed to them at their wedding. Although these certificates can only be documents onto which the fact of the birth or marriage registration are copied – so that they themselves are “Certified Copies”, nevertheless I often find that my client considers that these are “original” certificates which have significant sentimental value.

The answer is that new certificates can be purchased direct from the Registry office at any time. If you require a certificate to be Notarised, it is quicker if you contact me and I will purchase the new Certificate/s in readiness for our meeting.

The advantage of this that, because I receive it direct from the Government office, I will know that is genuine without need of any further checks and so I can certify it straightaway. Otherwise if my client brings me the certificate, I can only certify it to be genuine after phoning or writing to the Registry for verification.