Definition of Certificate of Authenticity

Art Is My Career | 17th June 2023

Navy blue certificate of authenticity for artwork on a pink background

Official Definition:

A certificate of authenticity (also known as a COA) is a document that accompanies a piece of art, and serves as an official guarantee of its authenticity, origin and specifications.

They are usually issued by the artist, gallery or authorised representative of the artist when an artwork is sold or transferred. Certificates of authenticity can be issued for original work or print reproductions.

Other names for a certificate of authenticity

This document is most often known as a certificate of authenticity, but you may see other names used including:

  • Authentication Certificate
  • Proof of Authenticity
  • Artwork Certificate
  • Originality Certificate
  • Authenticity Guarantee
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Validity Certificate
  • Art Authentication Document
  • Artwork Provenance Certificate
  • Artist’s Certificate

These all mean the same thing essentially – a document that verifies the authenticity, origin and specifications of an artwork.

What is the purpose of a certificate of authenticity?

A certificate of authenticity’s primary purpose is to establish an artwork’s legitimacy and provenance. Artwork scams are increasingly common, and some buyers are wary of buying art that may not be legitimate, or that does not come with official paperwork.

We use certificates of authenticity for all our artworks. They reassure clients that the artwork they’ve bought is the real deal. John Hopkins, Art Dealer

Including a certificate of authenticity with your art helps to verify that the artwork is an original creation of the stated artist and provides reassurance to collectors, buyers, and sellers regarding the artwork’s authenticity and value. The certificate acts as a legal and historical record that can be used for appraisal, insurance, and future resale purposes.

What information does a certificate of authenticity contain?

Certificates of authenticity provide information about the artwork including:

  • The title of the artwork
  • The medium
  • Date of creation
  • Dimensions
  • Artists Signature or seal
  • Date of signature
  • Statement of authenticity

If your certificates of authenticity are for limited edition prints, you may also wish to include an edition number or serial number. If your work is of unusual manufacture or requires specific storage or installation procedures the certificate may also contain this information.

It is important to note that while a certificate of authenticity adds credibility to an artwork, it does not guarantee its quality, artistic merit, or future market value. These aspects are subjective and can vary over time.

pink certificate of authenticity art branding

Choosing a Certificate of Authenticity

There are many factors that go into choosing a certificate of authenticity for your art:

  1. Design – Does the design fit with your brand’s aesthetic? Colours, typeface, patterns, shapes, imagery and style are all important elements.
  2. Information – What information does the certificate contain, does it meet your needs as an artist?
  3. Security – What security features do you require? Is a simple signature enough, or do you need space for embossing, artwork images or gold wafers?
  4. Artwork type – Some certificates are optimised for original artwork, whereas others are set up for limited edition prints. Customizability – Can the certificate be easily customized to include specific details about the artwork, such as the title, dimensions, medium, date of creation, and artist’s signature?
  5. Material – Consider the type of material the certificate is printed on. Will it be durable and long-lasting? Is it compatible with your desired printing techniques, such as inkjet or laser printing? Is it writable on?
  6. Size – Determine the ideal size of the certificate for your artwork. It should be proportionate and fit well alongside the artwork and other documentation without overwhelming or overshadowing it.
  7. Versatility – Will the certificate design work well for various types of artwork? It should be adaptable to different styles, mediums, and artistic genres.
  8. Language and Translations – If you have an international audience or plan to sell your artwork globally, consider whether the certificate can accommodate multiple languages or if translations can be easily added.
  9. Legal Compliance – Ensure that the certificate meets any legal requirements or regulations specific to your industry or region.
  10. Branding Opportunity – Evaluate if the certificate design allows for incorporating your logo, brand colours, or other elements that reflect your artistic brand identity.
  11. Packaging and Presentation – Consider whether the certificate can be elegantly presented, perhaps in a folder or envelope, as part of the overall packaging of the artwork.
  12. Reorder Availability – If you plan to use the same certificate design for future artwork, check if it is easy to reorder or if templates are provided to streamline the process.
  13. Pricing – If you are buying pre-printed certificates, compare the pricing options considering the cost per unit and any bulk discounts available.
  14. Customer Reviews – Look for feedback and reviews from other artists who have used the same or similar certificate designs to gauge their satisfaction and overall experience.


Certificate of Authenticity Template Pack

(5 customer reviews)
Original price was: £399.Current price is: £37.

The Ultimate Certificate of Authenticity Template Pack for Artists. 100% Customisable Certificate Templates for Original Artwork and Fine Art Prints. 20 Unique designs and 40 templates. PSD, Canva, PDF, JPG, PNG Files Included.


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Find The Meaning of Certificates of Authenticity

In this article, we look at the definition of the term ‘Certificate of Authenticity’. Certificate of Authenticity has a very specific meaning in the art world. It is an essential document, used to verify the authenticity, origin and specifications of artwork. Here at Art Is My Career we provide a full range of certificates of authenticity, and so can offer expert guidance and advice on the subject.

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