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Contact Us

148 West River Street
Providence, RI 02904-2615
Phone: (401) 222-1487
Fax: (401) 222-1309
TTY: 711


Open to the public
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Filing Info

Examples of Public Documents

Public documents include, but are not limited to, birth or death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, school transcripts, school diplomas or degrees, and adoption papers.

Notarized documents:

A notarized document presented for authentication must include a properly completed notarial certificate. A notarial certificate is the portion of the document or an attachment to the document that is completed by the notary public, bears the notary’s signature and seal and states the facts attested by the notary in a particular notarization (ex: jurisdiction, date of notarization, name of signor etc.)

It is prudent for a notary public to use a seal when notarizing documents. An authentication is a certification of the authenticity of the issuing official’s or notary public’s signature on the document, the capacity in which the person has acted, and identifies the seal/stamp which the document bears. It is strongly recommended that all documents intended for out-of-country use bear the seal of the notary public.

Definitions and examples of common notarial acts are provided in Section 3(f) of the Standards of Conduct for Notaries Public in the State of Rhode Island.

Vital Records:

Birth, death, and marriage records are vital records and must be obtained through Vital Records at the Rhode Island Department of Health. We cannot authenticate a document certified by any official other than the State Registrar of Vital Records or the Deputy State Registrar of Vital Records. Our office cannot authenticate a birth, death, or marriage record issued by a City or Town Clerk.

To contact the Rhode Island Department of Vital Records go to their website or call 401-222-2811.

A notary public should not notarize or prepare a copy certification of a vital record, see Section 4(a) of the Standards of Conduct for Notaries Public in the State of Rhode Island.

Divorce Decrees:

An exemplified copy of a final divorce decree is required for authentication and can be obtained through the Rhode Island Family Court, Domestic Clerk’s Office. The Family Court is located within the J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex, One Dorrance Plaza, Providence, RI 02903. Please contact the Domestic Clerk’s Office at 401-458-3200.

BCI Records:

The Bureau of Criminal Identification, Office of the Attorney General provides certified BCI records. A BCI record can be obtained by mail or in person through the Office of the Attorney General, 150 South Main Street, Providence, RI 02903, 401-274-4400. Visit the Attorney General's website for specific filing instructions including required filing fee. When requesting a BCI record for out-of-country use, please specify on your application that it will be presented to an out-of-country authority and must bear the signature and seal of the Attorney General.

School transcripts/diplomas/degrees:

Many foreign exchange students need to provide their home countries with certified records of their school transcripts, diplomas or degrees. Most often the school record is certified to in the presence of a notary, who then notarizes that statement. Often it is the record officer of the school who certifies to the record in the presence of a notary public. The notarized transcript, diploma or degree is sent to the Secretary of State’s office for authentication.

The following formats are standard procedures; however, we offer no guarantee for your particular set of documents. Please consult with an official of the destination country before requesting a school transcript, diploma, or degree be certified to verify the country’s preferred method of certification.

Short form for witnessing or attesting to signature of a school official. Required elements:

Jurisdiction where the document was notarized;
Statement by school official (principal/registrar) as to the authenticity and type of document being notarized;
Signature of school official (Document must be signed in the presence of the Notary);
Statement by the notary indicating who signed the document/date of signature;
Signature line for notary;
Notary prints his/her name in clear and legible block letters, lists commission expiration date, and commission number;
Notary affixes his/her seal.


I, ___________________, the (school principal/registrar) of ______________ (name of school) hereby certify that this is a true and original (transcript/diploma/degree) for (student’s name.)

Signature of School Official

State of Rhode Island
County of ______________

This _____ day of ________, _____, before me personally appeared ______________ (school registrar/principal) and signed the above statement.