Incumbency Certificate: What It Is, with Sample

What Is an Incumbency Certificate?

An incumbency certificate (also called a certificate of incumbency or a form of incumbency) is an official document issued by a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC) that lists the names of its current directors, officers, and, occasionally, key shareholders. It specifies who holds which positions within the organization and is most frequently used to confirm the identity of individuals who are authorized to enter into legally binding transactions on the company’s behalf. Outside of the United States, it may also be known as a register of directors, certificate of officers, or secretary certificate.

Key Takeaways

  • An incumbency certificate records the identities of a firm’s current directors, officers, and, sometimes, key shareholders.
  • An incumbency certificate will often be required by a financial institution when opening an account to guarantee that the people who claim to be the authorized signatory of a company are actually authorized.
  • Contracts for transactions involving companies usually require an incumbency certificate to determine who can legally bind the company in the contracts.
0:49

What's an Incumbency Certificate?

What Information Is on an Incumbency Certificate?

Whatever the name used, incumbency certificates essentially provide the same information: all relevant particulars regarding the company’s directors, officers, and key shareholders. These can vary but can include the incumbent’s name, position, status (either elected or appointed), and term of office. It also usually includes a signature sample for comparison purposes.

A typical incumbency certificate may be worded as follows:

“The undersigned, X, Secretary of ABC Inc. (the ‘Company’), hereby certifies that the persons named below do hold the position set forth opposite his or her name with the Company, that the signature appearing opposite each such person’s name is the true signature of such person, and that they are duly authorized to...”

This mention would then be followed by a list of the directors and officers, the date, and the secretary’s signature.

How to Issue an Incumbency Certificate

An incumbency certificate is issued by the corporate secretary, often bears the corporate seal, and may be notarized by a notary public. Because the secretary is the officer in charge of keeping company records, the incumbency certificate is an official act of the company, and third parties can reasonably rely on its accuracy.

When to Use an Incumbency Certificate

An incumbency certificate can be requested by a financial institution when the company applies to open a bank account or initiates a major transaction. Also, the certificate could be requested by an attorney or anyone else who wants to confirm the legality and stated position of a director or an officer within the corporation.

Anyone who is involved in a transaction with a company and needs to confirm the stated position of an officer within it may request an incumbency certificate. In practice, it is often required by a bank or other financial institution when opening an account to ensure that the person who claims to be the authorized signatory of a company is indeed authorized.

Similarly, when attorneys are drafting contracts for transactions involving companies, they usually require an official incumbency certificate to determine who can legally bind the company in the contracts.

Example of an Incumbency Certificate

Although they may take various forms, a typical boilerplate incumbency certificate will look similar to the following:

CERTIFICATE OF INCUMBENCY

The undersigned, Secretary/Assistant Secretary of __________________________, a __________________ corporation (hereinafter “Corporation”), hereby certifies as follows:

1. That he/she is the duly elected, qualified and acting Secretary/Assistant Secretary of the Corporation and is charged with maintaining the records, minutes, and seal of the Corporation.

2. That pursuant to the Corporation’s Bylaws, as amended, the following named person(s) was/were designated and appointed to the office(s) indicated below, and that said person(s) does/do continue to hold such office(s) at this time, and the signature(s) set forth opposite the name(s) are genuine signatures.

NAME, SIGNATURE, and TITLE

__________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________

3. That pursuant to the Corporation’s Bylaws, as amended, and certain resolutions adopted by the Corporation’s Board of Directors, the person(s) designated to serve in the above-titled capacity was/were given sufficient authority to act on behalf of and to bind the Corporation with respect to transactions involving the leasing of equipment, including without limitation the sale and leaseback of such equipment, and that the execution by said person(s) of documents related to such transactions, including without limitation Master Lease Agreements and Equipment Schedules thereto, constitute a legally binding and enforceable obligation of the Corporation.

4. That pursuant to the Corporation’s Bylaws, as amended, the undersigned has the power and authority to execute this certificate on behalf of the Corporation and that he/she has so executed this certificate and set the seal of the Corporation this __________ day of _______________, 20_____.

Signature: ______________________________________ (SEAL)

Name: _________________________________________

Title: __________________________________________

What is a form of incumbency?

A form of incumbency is just another name for “incumbency certificate.” It provides necessary information as to a company’s directors and officers, and, sometimes, its key shareholders.

Who signs an incumbency certificate?

An incumbency certificate is issued by the company’s corporate secretary, who must sign it. If the secretary’s incumbency must be certified, it is co-signed by one of the company officers. It also often includes the signatures of the directors, officers, and key shareholders listed on it to signify that their signatures are genuine.

Is a certificate of incumbency the same as a corporate resolution?

A corporate resolution, according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, is “a written legal document, issued by the board of directors of a corporation, documenting a binding decision made on behalf of the corporation.” Thus, an incumbency certificate is an example of a corporate resolution, but not all corporate resolutions are incumbency certificates.

The Bottom Line

An incumbency certificate is a valuable tool for identifying who is legally allowed to represent a company in a business transaction. A form of corporate resolution, it is considered an official act of the company because it is issued by the company’s corporate secretary, allowing those doing business with the company to rely on its accuracy. It makes business transactions safe.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Thomson Reuters Practical Law. “Incumbency Certificate.”

  2. Delaware Inc.com, via Harvard Business Services. “What Is a Certificate of Incumbency?

  3. Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute. “Corporate Resolution.”