What is a Certified Copy?

There are two definitions of a certified copy, a traditional certified copy and a true certified copy. A traditional certified copy is a photocopy of a document that is certified by a professional. A true certified copy is a copy of a document issued by the government office who originally issued the document.

In relation to immigration in Canada, the CIC defines a traditional certified copy as a copy that has been certified by any of the following professionals:


  • Professional accountant
  • Chiropractor
  • Commissioner of oaths
  • Dentist
  • Funeral director
  • Professional engineer
  • Justice of the peace or judge
  • Lawyer
  • Manager of a financial institution
  • Medical doctor
  • Member of parliament
  • Member of a provincial legislature
  • Minister of a religion
  • Postmaster
  • Primary, secondary or university teacher
  • Social worker
  • Veterinarian

The CIC requires that the person certifying your copy not be your family member and also that this person

mark the following on the photocopy:

  • Their name and signature under the written statement “I certify that this is a true copy of the original document.”
  • Their official position or title
  • The name of the original document
  • The date they certified

A true certified copy is issued by the government office that issued the original copy. If you are seeking to obtain a true certified copy of a document issued by the Canadian government, such as a replacement PR card, you can request it by filing form IMM 5545.

To understand the definition or a true certified copy you first must understand the definition of an original document.

An original document is the original copy issued to you by the government office recording the event or ceremony (such as a birth or marriage), a change in status (such as an approved immigration application), etc. There are two copies of the original document—one of which is kept by the issuing government office and the other which is given to you. Your copy of the original document is literally irreplaceable. This means that if an original copy is lost, stolen, or otherwise destroyed, there is no way to get another original. Once the original is gone, it can only be replaced by a government issued certified copy, a true certified copy.

A true certified copy has the same significance as the original and can be used for all the same purposes. You can obtain a true certified copy from the register of the government office that issued the original. The register will make a copy of the original and print the words “certified copy” on it.

You can obtain a true certified copy of any original document. However they often need to be requested in person at the government office where they were issued, which might not always be an easy thing to do.

An added benefit of having certified copies of original documents is that they can be used in lieu of originals. This way, if you are submitting an application that requires important documents to be included, you can keep the originals and submit certified copies. Doing this means you are never without your originals and you don’t have to worry about them being lost in the mail or otherwise misplaced.