What is Authentication or certification?
Authentication is the means by which a copy of a public record can be accepted in place of the original record for the purposes of legal proceedings. This is in accordance with s.9(2) of the Public Records Act 1958. The authenticated copy is more commonly known and referred to as a certified copy, and the process is normally referred to as certification.
How can I tell a copy has been certified?
A certified copy has a label or stamp on it, often on the reverse, which contains a description of the record, the date the copy was produced, and the signature and name of the person certifying the copy. Over the signature will be an imprint of the seal of the Public Record Office. The Public Record Office is the legal entity within The National Archives that has the statutory authority to certify copies of records.
When might I need a certified copy?
If you are using public records as evidence in a court case or other legal proceeding, certified copies will be acceptable to the court or tribunal. Certified copies are sometimes required for other official purposes, such as dealings with agencies like the Passport Service or Immigration and Nationality Department. If you require copies of naturalisation records in connection with British citizenship or passport applications, the copy of the Naturalisation Certificate must be certified.
How can I obtain a certified copy?
Authenticated copies can only be obtained from record copying department. You will need to identify the document to be copied yourself or through someone acting for you, or to supply sufficient information to enable Record Copying staff readily to identify it for you. Certification must be requested at the time the copy is ordered. Once a copy has been delivered, it cannot subsequently be returned for certification. Copies produced by self-service means or by other departments within The National Archives cannot be certified. There is an extra fee for certification. Certified copies take time to prepare. For orders made in person at The National Archives at least two working days are required. For orders by post or e-mail, please allow ten days for the estimate, and five days to produce the copies.
Are there any records that cannot be copied and certified?
Yes. Only copies of public records can be certified. There are some records held at The National Archives that do not have public record status, and these cannot be certified. In addition, published material in our reading rooms and our library cannot be certified.
Can a translation of a record be certified?
No. The Public Records Act only allows for copies of records to be certified, not translations or interpretations.
Can The National Archives provide a legal opinion on a record?
No. The National Archives cannot offer a legal opinion on the content, meaning or interpretation of the records.