Unpacking Certified Copies

Hello Product Council,
On the 23rd of November 2022 at Noon EAT on this Zoom link, we invite you to participate in our next session where we will have a deep dive into Certified Copies. Issuing certified copies (printing a copy of vital event record data as certified by the registration office) remains a very important function of civil registration .
During the session the team will showcase a demo of our understanding of the process and would like to get your feedback on the process and the questions below:

  1. Is our definition of Certified copy accurate to your country? If No, why not?
  2. Who can issue a certified copy?
  3. For what reasons would you need a certified copy? Why is a birth certificate not sufficient?
  4. In the future do you see a need for paper-based certificates and copies? How can we go fully digital?
    Join us for this engaging discussion on this Zoom link. We encourage you to post your comments in advance by replying to this message so we can get started on the discussion.

To help us understand the requirements further.

It would be very helpful if you could share an example of the template paper that you print a certified copy onto (the security paper). Or an example of a certified copy with PII redacted of course.


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We continue to appreciate your participation in the product council sessions. Following the meeting, here are some key highlights:

  1. Often, there is a short-form and long-form version of the record printed as a certified copy

  2. The short form is a partial copy of the vital event - doesn’t contain sensitive information such as the cause of death

  3. Long-form is a complete copy of the vital event record

  4. In some countries, their certificate (short form) contains sufficient information for all use cases e.g. includes the child’s and parent’s details, so a long form (a complete record) is not required

  5. We must check the identity of the individual requesting a certified copy and audit the issuance.

  6. Often, the first copy is free, and subsequent certified copies printed have a fee. This must be a configurable option

  7. Some countries use control numbers to track the issuance of certificates printed on security paper. This must be a configurable option.

  8. Many countries are adding a QR code to the certified copy that can be verified. This is currently being built in OpenCRVS and linked to ongoing research into a digital verifiable credential.

  9. Paper-based copies will still be in high demand for as long as there are connectivity and coverage challenges in the continent

Click the link here to access the recording.

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As per the Uganda standards, the definition of a certified copy is true . Organizations request for certified copies to basically authenticate the submitted birth certificates. I do believe for efficiency and effectiveness, the request should be made online , where the requesting organization can make online payment for the certification and also submit the serial number of the certificate to be authenticated, upon confirmation of payment, on the civil registration body system should be able to auto-run the serial number and return a true of false value to the requesting organization. The return could be an instant message via email

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Thanks so much for this input, Paul! A few follow-up questions from me:

  • Is it just organisations who request for a certified copy? Or do individuals request one as well?
  • Which organisations can receive it?
  • What information is on the certified copy e.g. do you provide all details as per the birth certificate, or does this depend on the request and from whom?

Thanks so much!

Hello Anna, individuals always come to the Civil Registration body to have their birth certificates certified because a certain organization has requested for a certified copy of the certificate. 80% of these certification requests are from embassies as people seek for VISAs. However from experience as a Senior Civil Registration, if one obtained the certificate fraudulently, still they shall get the certified copy fraudulently off the street !! Therefore I strongly vouch for that the requesting body or organization should directly electronically contact the civil registration body for certification without involving the applicant. The registration body also needs to send back feedback electronically to the requesting organization. Forgery of certificates is a very big issue . In terms of the information availed during certification, basically the certified copy is a replica of the certificate. When someone comes for certification, we ask them to photocopy the certificate , we search for it electronically to ascertain that it does exist and upon proof that it’s genuine , we stamp onto the photocopy with a certification stamp. The applicant then takes this certified copy back to the requesting organization.

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This is a very interesting insight @paul.kasawuli that most of the requests are for visa purposes. Since there are several embassies, it will be interesting to figure out what kind of integration is required to support that need i.e verifying the details from the incoming requests instead of issuing the certified copies. Currently, we are considering adding a verify a certificate feature using the QR code lookup for that purpose. I have taken note of the additional efforts required to prevent the forgery of the certified copies. Thank you for the insights shared.

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Hello Annina, ideally embedding a QR code would ease the authentication process , the catch is that as an entity we do charge a fee for certification. How do you get the entities to undertake authentication using the QR code but same time have them pay for the authentication?? Do you embed a payment algorithm in the QR code that gets them to first make payment, the payment is verified then they are issued with certification results ??


You raise a very interesting question @paul.kasawuli, let me check with my colleagues and come back to you on how to manage the payments.

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Hi Paul, this is a really interesting configurable option we could introduce. Essentially we were thinking that the QR code would be hardcoded to take you back to a page to verify the VC. Perhaps we could make the URL configurable, so that you could intercept the process with a payment integration first before the user follows on to verification. That is entirely possible and I will add this requirement into our build ticket. Thanks very much for raising this! :slightly_smiling_face: Euan.