How To Prepare A Certificate of Authenticity

The COA is an essential document you must provide in the event of a sale of your artwork.

by Ashlyn Gentile

In the fast-paced contemporary art world we are currently immersed in, selling a work of art can occur in the blink of an eye. The sale is an exciting, invigorating process, but it is extremely important to include the proper documentation, to ensure the validity of your transaction.

Perhaps one of the most essential documents you should include in the event of a sale of your work is a certificate of authenticity or COA. Many artists wonder where to even begin in composing this crucial document. Luckily, this guide on composing a professional, genuine certificate has you covered!

Agora Artist Cynthia Evers (left) posing with her sold artwork during the opening reception.

What is a Certificate of Authenticity?

The Certificate is an official document that proves your work is genuine and authentic. It is a helpful tool in proving a work’s provenance, quality, and ensures the buyer that it is produced by you and no one else. Ideally, it should accompany every work of art you’ve constructed, regardless of whether it is sold or not. In the event of a sale, a certificate of authenticity is typically one of the first documents provided to the buyer.

Useful Article: How To Take Great Photos Of Your Artwork

Why Do You Need a Certificate of Authenticity?

First and foremost, providing a physical document to the potential buyer or collector eases the transaction process because it assures the buyer that the work is your own.

COA for one of Fariba Baghi’s artworks.

In a similar vein, because we live in a digital world where forgery is unfortunately rather commonplace, this document aids in the prevention of counterfeit. In this day and age, it is essential to avoid as much risk as possible in selling your work, because you have invested your time, money, and creativity in your practice. COAs are a form of risk prevention.

A COA also acts as a sales receipt, ensuring a successful and smooth sale of your work between you and the buyer. Furthermore, in the event that your work increases in value over time, a COA acts as a physical document that tracks the provenance of your works, thus proving an increase in value.

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How to Write a Certificate of Authenticity

Now that you know the what and the why of a certificate of authenticity, it’s time to write one! Listed below is a step-by-step guide with all the information you must include in a COA.

1. Artist name

This should be located within the headline of the document.

2. Title of the work

3. Year of completion

4. Dimensions

5. Medium

6. Edition number, if applicable

7. Special instructions

Make sure, if necessary, to include any special instructions regarding the condition of your work, installation instructions, etc.

8. Artwork Image

Ideally, your COA should include a high-resolution image of your work within the document. This ensures ease in archiving the document for both you and the buyer.

9. Statement of Authenticity

This should consist of a short, one to two sentence statement declaring the authenticity of your work, as well as a statement that your work is copyrighted by you, and you alone.

As a promotional gallery, we take pride in the diverse group of artists from across the globe that we represent. Visit our Gallery Representation and Artist Promotion page for more information about how we promote our artists.

Make sure you’re professional and prepared by having a COA made for each of your completed artworks. Here you can view and download a sample Certificate of Authenticity.

Join the discussion

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  • Thank you so much for this information. I will be selling my art for the first time in the next couple of months.

  • Hi,
    Do I need to get a copyright of my name/art before creating COA?

  • Hi there!

    Does Digital Artworks should also have COA?

  • Hello,
    Do I need to my my COA’s notarized by a notary public?

    • Hi Matthew,

      As long as it’s signed and dated by you, no, it’s not necessary.

  • Hi, to whom this may concern,
    I’m looking around the net to find out how I can authenticate and protect my art? I do not have a website up at this time.

    I will wait to hear from you,

  • How do I download the COA in the link above?

  • Hello,
    A famous painter has painted a portrait of my mother in the late 70’s and my mother would like to cell the painting. The painting was gifted to my mom because she agreed to model the painting. There were people who witnessed the event and saw the painter painting it. Is it possible to have an authenticity statement about the painting from an expert painter who witnessed the event? also, what kind of documents should we have if we want to auction the painting?


  • Hi,
    If a piece of art is commissioned, should copyright be stated on a COA and am I correct in believing that the client commissioning the piece has the copyright?

    • Hi Anne,
      Yes, that is correct.

    • Copyright is separate from purchasing the artwork. Selling the copyright is separate negotiation, with a separate fee. If it was not discussed, the copyright remains with the artist.

  • Hello!
    – Should I register every single work of art for its own COA?
    – What’s the cost to register my work of art?
    – Should I have to have a copyright logo?
    – Where can I obtain my COA?
    – Do artists pay an monthly or annual fee for having a CAO?
    – OR Can I just create my own CAO at home?
    I need help please. Thanks

    • Hi John,

      Each artwork should be sold with its individual COA and you can create it yourself or use the one provided by us in the article. This is a free certificate and artists don’t pay for it.

      Good luck!

  • What does the medium stand for on the certificate of authenticity

    • It’s about the material used to create the art. For example acrylic medium, water colour medium, soft stone medium.

  • Do you know if there is necessary another COA for the courier. Some couriers are asking for this kind of proof (for example DPD in Romania).
    Thank you!

    • Hi Eleni,

      Maybe you should give the courier a photocopy of the COA you send to your collectors.

  • Where exactly can i put my signature in the COA?

    • Hi Kristian,

      You can add your signature right in the end, after your artist name.

  • Might I attach the certificate to the back of the artwork or print? I was thinking of using a high quality acid free envelope attached to the back of the art and putting the certificate inside the envelope.

    • Hi Cheryl,

      It’s advisable to hand the certificate to the buyer of your work separately.

  • Thank you so much for this information. I will be selling my art for the first time in the next couple of months. Can you tell me if the certificate should include a seal. If so I can I attain that.

  • Hi Ashlyn
    Really appreciate the generous tips and info you share. My wife printed one of your sample certificates of authenticity but theres a sentence on which I d appreciate your clarification . It reads “All copyright and reproduction rights are reserved by the artist .” Do I have these rights by virtue of. 1) being the artist , 2) issuing the certificate or ,3)registering and purchasing a copyright from the government ? Thankyou again.

    • Hi Armin,

      Primarily, the artist owns all copyright.

  • Thank you this has been most helpful for my gallery and my confidence as an Artist

  • This was perfect, thank you. Do you recommend good, high quality printing services? Any type of archival paper?

  • Can you tell me please the COA website? Thanks!

  • would love to read more on the authenticity of the artwork. I will work on my authenticity certificate and thanks for aware me how COA is important for my artwork.

  • Hello! Thanks for this tutorial. I am just wondering if the date of authentication should be the same with the date the work was done/finished. This is the first time I am going to sell my artworks and some of them were done a or two years ago. So this is also the first time I am going to hand out certificates (though, I have given friends my works before and they have not asked for COAs as they were gifts.). Thanks again.

    • Hi Reina,

      Yes, the date in the CoA should be the one when the artwork was completed.

  • I read somewhere that COAs should be signed in pencil rather than pen because it’s irreplicable. What is your advice on this?

    • Hi Cheryl,
      You should sign your CoA with whatever is more convenient for you.

  • I have a Thomas Kinkade painting that I have no coa for it and I want to auction. What can I do

    • Hi Robert,
      If you bought the painting, you should contact the seller. Or, if that is not possible, an official authority that would certify the authenticity of the painting.

  • Should “prints” of one’s work be accompanied by a COA?

  • thanks for the superb post!

  • Love your Tutorials. Thanks!

  • You can also buy the hahnemuehle hologram certificate of authenticity.

  • Do you recommend the COA for sculptures / carvings as well as for paintings / photographs?

  • Very useful information, especially the real life example. Thanks!


  • Hi! My name is Dhimitra Chano . Im new artist painter and is very helpful to me too assisting me with my Gallery. Thank you

    • Hi Dhimitra! We’re glad to be of use. If there are any other articles you’d like to read on our blog, please let us know.

  • Would love to attend one of the conference and teachings. I believe it’s very helpful & would go a long way to assisting me with the day to day activities of my Gallery.
    #My Heritage Contemporary Art Gallery