Have you recently been asked to write a certification letter on someone’s behalf? Writing a letter of certification can be daunting, and you may not even understand what a certification letter is — much less how to write one. This guide will help you through the entire process, step-by-step.
What Is a Certification Letter?
A certification letter — also very frequently referred to as a letter of certification — is an official letter that serves the purpose of verifying information. A letter of certification is usually written by a person of authority in an official capacity in order to assist an applicant of some kind in completing the required steps.
Anyone may be asked to provide a letter of certification, and that includes people who do not often write such letters. The official nature of this request can easily make you feel intimidated, but you will typically simply need to state the facts.
Types & Uses of a Certification Letter
Why are certification letters used? While the reasons for needing a letter of certification can vary, and therewith also the reasons for writing such a letter, the most common types and uses are:
- A certification letter to confirm the completion of a course. Such requests may be directed at high schools, colleges, and vocational institutions such as trucking schools. The institution may be asked to confirm attendance dates on behalf of students, as well as grades.
- A certification letter to verify previous employment. A person who used to work at your company has found new employment, and their prospective employer needs confirmation that they worked at your company, for which duration, and what their job title and duties were.
- A certification letter may be required before an applicant gains access to financial institutions. One example would be accessing VA benefits to complete a vocational course, such as welding. This situation may also, however, apply to insurance benefits or housing vouchers. It may also be necessary for someone to verify that they own stocks in a company, including for IRS purposes.
- Character references are another type of certification letter. Character references have diverse uses, from potential employment to landlords who need a character reference before renting an apartment to an applicant, and from persons making visa applications to employees working with vulnerable populations such as the elderly needing proof of being an upstanding citizen.
What Do You Write on a Certification Letter?
The information presented in a certification letter depends on the nature of the request. In some cases, official forms may need to be completed in lieu of writing a certification letter. Where this is not the case, however, and you are called on to compose a letter, it should follow the standard US business letter format (in the following order):
- Your contact information, including name, address, phone number, and email address.
- The date on which you write the letter.
- The recipient’s contact information.
- A greeting, such as “Dear Mr. Walker,”.
- A subject line, in bold lettering, if desired.
- The body of the text.
- A closing salutation, such as “Yours Sincerely,”.
- Your signature, followed by your name and, where relevant, your position.
Although the contents of the letter of certification will depend on your purpose for writing as well as the capacity in which you are writing, your letter should always explain:
- Who you are. For example: “My name is Barry Green. I work in the HR Department at Austin’s Best Donuts & Cookies.”
- Your purpose in writing, for example: “I am writing in response to your request for confirmation of employment for George Ryder.”
- The relevant information. For example. “Mr Ryder managed our flagship Austin’s Best Donuts & Cookies store between the years 2018 and 2022. Prior to that time, he was a shift manager from 2016 to 2018. Mr Ryder has an impeccable record and played a key role in helping Austin’s Best Donuts & Cookies open three further stores by mentoring managers at new locations.”
- Polite closing remarks, such as: “I trust that this information answers your question, however, should you have any further queries, we would be happy to be of assistance.”
- You should now finish your letter with a closing salutation, a signature, and your name and job title (where relevant).
When an applicant of any type asks you to participate in the process by providing a letter of certification, the requesting party may provide a form or announcement in which they specify details of the information they require. This should help you understand precisely what kind of information is being requested.
If you were not previously informed about the request, you can check in with the party on whose behalf the information is being requested, and ask for their permission to forge ahead with the letter of certification. The party in question will then understand that you are going to write a certification letter in accordance with, to the best of your knowledge, the exact truth.
How to Write a Certification Letter (Writing Tips)
Some people will be used to writing and providing certification letters on a regular basis. These include employees working within administrative departments of colleges and large employers who often need to provide formal references. Not everyone who is asked to write a certification letter falls into this category, however.
You may be a small employer who is encountering a request for a certification letter for the first time, an everyday citizen being asked to write a certification letter for a friend seeking a visa, or a Pastor who was asked to offer a character reference on behalf of an inmate.
In this case, you may have no idea how to move forward. Here are some useful tips that will help you write a professional and credible certification letter:
- Follow the standard business letter format.
- If you are writing on behalf of a company or organization like a non-profit, religious organization, or educational institution, use the formal letter heads associated with that organization and, where available, use the formal seal.
- If you are writing a certification letter as an individual, simply use the standard business letter format and explain your relation to the applicant.
- The letter will bear a postage date, but you still need to include the date on which you write the letter.
- Attach supporting documents as requested and as you are able to.
- Where in doubt, address the person requesting the certification letter as Mr or Ms Last Name. If another title, such as “Professor” or “Doctor” was provided, use that instead. If you do not know who you are addressing, you may write “To Whom it May Concern” instead.
- Type your letter in a formal font such as Times New Roman or Helvetica, and use font size 12.
- Leave three blank lines, which serve as a space where you can sign your letter after printing it.
It is crucial to use formal and polite language throughout any letter of certification. You are advised to remain factual and business-like throughout the letter you write but, where relevant, you may include supporting details that support the applicant’s cause (or indeed, depending on the context, dismiss it).
It is equally important to be truthful. Letters of certification are official in nature, and you should never use them as a vehicle to present false information.
Sample Certification Letters with Templates
Should you still be unsure how to proceed with your certification letter, the following samples may help you. However, never copy the exact wording and only use these samples as inspiration.
Certification Letter to Confirm Employment
Dear Mrs Strand,
This letter is to confirm that Mr Alexander Smith was employed at Total Auto Body Repair as a general mechanic during the period from March 2, 2017 to September 19, 2021. While working at our company, Mr Smith’s duties included auto body repair as well as customer service. He demonstrated great attention to detail and an admirable work ethic.
I was disappointed when Mr Smith had to move away from Smallville to care for his mother, but am confident that he will make an excellent addition to your team.
Total Auto Body Repair
Certification Letter for Students
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing on behalf of Fast Trucking School to confirm that Miss Cate Hill completed her CDL training with us on February 9, 2022. She showed great competence and we fully support her in her further career.
Letter of Certification for Visa
Dear Sir or Madam
I am writing to confirm that Mr Edward Parker has been employed as a marketing consultant at MadWorldMarketing from December 2011 to the present date, and that his annual salary is $120,400.
On behalf of MadWorldMarketing’s HR Department, I can verify that we have full knowledge of Mr Parker’s application for a temporary work visa.
Please do not hesitate to request further information,
This should offer you ample ideas that will allow you to continue writing your certification letter, whether the purpose is similar to those highlighter in the examples or different. Where specific information is requested, pay attention and ensure that you provide it. Should you not know what is required, you may make a short phone call to the requesting party for clarification. So long as you provide the requested details, have the applicant’s permission, and maintain formal language, your certification letter will meet the requirements.
How do you request a letter for certification?
In some cases, applicants may have to contact the party providing a letter of certification directly. If you are applying for the renewal of a passport while living abroad, for instance, you may have to find an appropriate person to provide a character reference independently. You may do so verbally or in writing. In other cases, the verifying party will contact the party providing the letter directly.
What is a standard letter of certification?
Standard certification letters follow a standard business letter format and use formal language.
What makes a certification valid?
Where you are writing on behalf of an organization, use the appropriate official seals and letter heads. If you are writing as an individual, sign your name.
How do you write a self-certification letter?
Take a similar approach to certify that the information you are providing is full and correct. Write a standard business letter and stick to the facts.