Certificates Law and Legal Definition

Generally, a certificate is a document signifying the satisfaction of certain requirements or terms and conditions or testifying to certain facts. The holding of a certificate grants the holder those rights granted by the issuer of the certificate. Laws exist at all levels of government regulating the issuance and use of certificates. For example, some states have laws governing when the issuer of a gift certificate must honor such certificate upon presentment, and setting minimum expiration periods.

Certificates are used in a variety of contexts and have different meanings and legal significances attached to them. A certificate may be a document testifying to the truth of something, such as a marriage or birth certificate. A certificate may be a document issued to a person completing a course of study not leading to a diploma, or authorize a person to officially practice in a certain profession. In yet another context, a certificate may prove ownership of property, such as a stock certificate.