PRIA Publishes Best Practices for Certifying Copies for Land Records

May 5, 2016

The Board of Directors of the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) in April approved publication of a paper titled “Best Practices for Certifying Copies for Land Records.”

The paper focuses on best practices for certified copies for land records. PRIA acknowledges that there may be additional and different issues related to certifying documents that are contained in other government offices. The best practices are limited to the recording of documents.

“It is incredibly important to be engaged in PRIA’s efforts to promote understanding and uniformity in recording,” said Brian Ernissee, director of document completion at Nationwide Title Clearing and co-chair of PRIA’s Certified Copies Work Group. “These Best Practices are the result of PRIA members from both the government and business sectors bringing their collective knowledge and experience to the wider discussion of how best to advise stakeholders on practices that can work for everyone.”

Joyce Watts, clerk-register for Allegan Co, Mich., and government sector co-chair of the Certified Copies Work Group, added, “Having clear, concise standards for production of certified copies is beneficial to recorders PRIA is recognized as the leading resource for the property records industry. In providing assurance the copies they produce for customers will address title clearance issues. Standardization of practices benefits our offices, our records and our customers.”

PRIA’s Best Practices for Certifying Copies

  1. A certified copy should contain a certification stamp that includes the following attributes to indicate that it is indeed certified:
    • Signature of authorized person in the Recorder’s Office
    • Jurisdiction seal
    • Jurisdiction and state identification
    • Date of certification
    • Number of pages the document contains
    • Certification statement, for example, “I hereby affirm that this document is a true certified copy of the document recorded in the land records of ABC County…”
  2. Only entire or complete documents should be certified.
  3. The certification stamp or raised seal should be placed on the last page of the document.
  4. The certification mark should be distinct and easily identifiable from the document text.
  5. Jurisdictions are encouraged to provide a method to verify that the certification is valid.

While statutory language could not be found to define the content of a certification, PRIA acknowledged that the practice of making and sending certified copies is well-established. PRIA said the paper exists to define content and best practices so that movement towards a national consistency will evolve.

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