--> Skip to main content
Avalara Help Center

Upload and Validate Compliance Documents

This article applies to:Avalara CertCapture

You’ve set up your company and added your customer records; now it’s time to upload compliance documents and link them to those customers. Once you validate uploaded document data, CertCapture will store and apply it.

You may have physical copies of compliance documents that you need to upload, digitize, and link to customers. If not, use CertCapture to create and send document requests to customers. You’ll also use the request feature when it’s time to renew expiring or expired documents.

Upload documents

To prepare for uploading, gather your existing compliance documents and scan them to PDFs. 

1. Upload documents

Before you can process documents and link them with customer records, you'll need to add the documents to CertCapture. There are several ways to add customer records to CertCapture:

  • Your customers can submit documents online, at your request
  • Your customers can submit documents by fax
  • If you have access to CertCapture for Retail, your company's retail associates can submit document images using a mobile app - or your customers can upload their documents as a part of an eCommerce experience
  • You can upload documents to CertCapture using an upload feature within CertCapture

If you have physical or digital copies of documents that need to be imported into CertCapture, you need to upload those documents to make them available for processing.  

  1. To upload digital copies of documents, first convert them into PDF format. The easiest way to do this is to scan them to PDF.  
  2. Within CertCapture, click Data Entry on the toolbar, and then select Validate Documents from the drop-down. Next, click the Upload Documents button on the Validate Documents screen.
  3. In the Upload Stacks – [Your Company Name] dialog box, at the top, do the following:
    1. Click Choose File. Navigate to and select a PDF image that contains any number of pages, and then click Open.
    2. Under Priority, select Low, Normal, High, or Critical.
    3. Under Auto-Split, select No or Yes. If you select Auto-Split: Yes, CertCapture separates the documents automatically into different documents.
    4. Under Claim Stack click the checkbox next to (Auto-assign stack to yourself) to take control of the stack as soon as it uploads. No other users have access to the stack after you claim it. That's why most stacks are not claimed when they are uploaded—so that any user can claim and process them further.
    5. If your account has more than one document type enabled (exemption certificates, excise licenses, and/or federal withholding), you may see a Document Type drop-down. If so, select the document type you are uploading.
    6. If you know the exposure zone covered by the document(s) you're uploading, select it using the Exposure Zone drop-down.
    7. If you know the exempt reason associated with the document(s) you're uploading, select it using the Exempt Reason drop-down.
  4. When ready to proceed, click Upload Stack.
  5. Once documents stacks have been imported or uploaded to CertCapture, they're available for processing within the Validate Documents screen. Click Data Entry on the CertCapture Toolbar and select Validate Documents.

2. Merge and adjust uploads

Within the My Unfinished Documents processing queue, for any document stack that’s marked as Ready for Merge – and that you’d like to begin merging – click its Certificate Id to initiate the merge workflow. A modal (separate) window will open.  View and adjust the format of your documents.

  1. On the My Unfinished Documents: [Your Company Name] page, click the Certificate Id of any document stack you'd like to begin merging.
    1. If there is only one compliance document within the imported stack, use this area to define the document type, identify the exposure zone associated with the document, or to specify an exempt reason. You can also rotate, flip, increase contrast, decrease contrast, and delete pages from the document here.
      • At the top, click Release Stack to send the stack back to your company's repository in CertCapture so someone else in your company can work with it.
      • Use these image tools to adjust the appearance of uploaded documents.
    2. If the document stack contains more than one form, click Mark Split Here between each separate form, to identify where one document ends and another begins. 
      Document stack pages that precede and follow a Split marker will be treated as separate compliance document records in later processing phases – and can be linked to different customer records.

  2. Once you’ve adjusted the appearance of documents and have separated them into individual document records, either click Submit, which will make the documents available for the next phase of processing – or click Release Documents, which will return documents to the Available Documents queue within the Validate Documents screen.

3. Validate documents

When documents have been merged and submitted, they become available for validation. During the validation process:

  • Check validity of documents
  • Digitize the document information, so CertCapture can store the information and you can search based on it later
  • Link documents to your customers' records
  1. Access documents that you have claimed and that are available for validation. On the CertCapture toolbar go to Data Entry > Validate Documents and from the Available Documents drop-down, select My Unfinished Documents
  2. Access all documents available for validation, no matter who else may have prepared them for validation. On the CertCapture toolbar go to Data Entry > Validate Documents and from the Available Documents drop-down, select Available Documents.
  3. To begin the validation process, click in the line of any document that's marked Ready for Validation within the document processing queue - or begin validating multiple documents by placing check marks in the boxes beside each document you want to validate. When you've selected a document or stack to validate, a modal (separate) validation pane appears.

    If the document you're validating is a multi-jurisdictional exemption certificate (one form that records a customer's exempt status in more than one jurisdiction), the Certificate Id for the document at this stage is the Id that was assigned during upload. Once you've validated the document, each of the certificate's jurisdictions will assume a new Certificate Id. For example, the original document you uploaded might have a Certificate Id of 500. Then once you've validated the document and have indicated that it's multi-jurisdictional, by selecting more than one jurisdiction during the validation process, the new Certificate Ids might be 501, 502, and 503. 
  4. Within the Data Entry document validation pane, enter all relevant, requested information about the document. Fields include:
    • Customers: Search for an existing customer record or use the blue plus sign button to add a new customer record.  The document you are validating will be attached to the customer(s) entered here 
    • Exempt Reasons: Select an exempt reason. The reason you select should match the exempt reason indicated by the document you are validating
    • Exposure Zones: Type to search for specific exposure zones. The zone(s) entered should match the exposure zone(s) indicated by the document you are validating
    • Effective Date: Enter the date the document should become effective
    • Location
    • Single Use: Check if the document you are validating should apply only to one purchase order
    • Invalid Reason: If the document is invalid, note the reason. Use the drop-down to locate possible invalid reasons, or type to search for an invalid reason you already know exists
    • Customer Code: If your team tracks customer attributes such as Business Closed, Address Change Needed, etc. assign those attributes here
    • Certificate Code: If your team tracks document attributes, such as Multi-Jurisdictional, Drop-Ship, etc. assign those attributes here
    • Validation Fax / Email Updates:
    • Notes:
    • PO Numbers: If you checked the Single Use box above, provide the purchase order with which the document should be associated

      If at any point during this validation, digitization, and customer-linking phase you decide to stop work processing this document, click the Release button at the top of the Data Entry document validation pane. The document is returned to the Available Documents view of the Validate Documents screen.
  5. If you complete data entry for a document, click Validate. The document is no longer a part of the Validate Documents queue, and the information you’ve entered is now searchable at the customer and document levels. In the future, if you perform a search for documents with specific attributes – or for customers who are linked to documents with specific attributes, the document you’ve validated may be surfaced as a search result.

    If at the top, you click Release, the stack returns to the Available Documents view of the Validate Documents screen, where another user can validate it. Release does not process the documents further or move them to complete status. If you neither finish processing a stack or release it, but leave the data entry area by closing the window or if it times out, CertCapture automatically assigns the stack to you for further processing. You can find any of those stacks under the My Unfinished Stacks view of the Validate Documents screen.

4. Escalate problematic documents

Come across a problematic document while processing? Escalate it.

If at any point during the validation, digitization, and customer-linking phase you find a document to be problematic, click the Escalate button at the top of the Data Entry document validation pane. The document is returned to the Available Documents view of the Validate Documents screen, marked as Ready for Validation (Escalated).

  1. While processing a document, click the Escalate button.
  2. In the Escalate Certificate dialog box, click Select Reason, and do either of the following:
    • Select No Customer Number.
    • Select Other, and in the text box below, type a reason why you’re escalating the certificate for review.
  3. Click Escalate.
  4. Continue validating any other certificates in the stack. If you need to escalate any other certificates, repeat these steps.
  5. Escalated documents are moved to the processing queue within the Validate Documents screen - and are marked as Ready to Validate (Escalated)


5. Reprocess documents with errors

For a small number of documents, errors can occur during the upload or merge phase. If you've uploaded a document and it's failed to process correctly, try re-processing it.

  1. On the CertCapture toolbar go to Data Entry > Validate Documents. Look at the document processing queue to see a list of all uploaded documents. Each document is a line-item with its stage displayed. For documents that either failed to upload correctly, or that failed to process correctly during the merge phase, the stage label is Error: Re-Process Document.

  2. If there are many documents in the processing queue, use the search options at the top of the screen to limit your processing queue to documents with errors. Click the Stage drop-down, and select Error: Re-Process Document to filter your queue.

  3. In your queue, click the check the box next to any of the failed documents you want to re-process. Then click Action > Re-Process Document.

  4. You can attempt to re-process documents this way three times. If the document fails to process correctly after the third attempt, the stage for the document in the queue is Failed to Process, and you need to upload the document again.


Request documents from customers

You can skip this step if you already had current compliance documents on hand for all of your customers and uploaded all of them in the last step. However, you'll eventually need to reach out to customers to ask them for renewal documents, so it's best to learn about the request process now while you're getting started with CertCapture.

Create a cover letter template

Create a letter with customizable tags, like a mail merge. Then, use it each time you send out a similar request. 

  1. On the CertCapture dashboard, click Requests and select Email Templates/Cover Letters.
  2. On the Email Templates/Cover Letters page, click Add Cover Letter.
  3. On the Add New Cover Letter Template page, type the following:
    • Title: A title to quickly identify which template this is
    • Subject: A subject to provide a brief overview of the template
    • Description: A description that shows the difference between this template and another so you don't have to compare them directly
  4. Under Body, type your cover letter, and use the formatting toolbar to add elements to your cover letter. This works like the toolbar of any web-based word processing program such as Microsoft Word web app. Use the Paste as Plain Text button to paste in text from Microsoft Word. This will strip out any unusual characters that Microsoft Word might otherwise paste into the cover letter.
  5. Use Template Tags to insert variables into your cover letter. Your company logo is automatically imported into all your cover letters.  You can move, remove or replace this logo as needed. Cover letters with template tags personalize details for each recipient when you send a request or campaign. To insert a template tag into your cover letter, place your cursor where you’d like to insert the tag, and then click the plus sign (+) next to the tag. Or just click and hold the tag while dragging it to the desired location in your cover letter. When you print or email your cover letter, they’ll automatically import the following kinds of data into the cover letter:
    • Customer Data: These tags import details about your customers and begin with CUST or CUSTOMER.
    • CertExpress Data: These tags import data about CertExpress. These tags previously inserted web portal instructions. They were recently updated.
    • Date Reference: These tags import data about when you sent a certificate request or expect to receive a certificate.
    • Certificate Data: These tags import details about certificates.
    • Your CertCapture Account: These tags import details from your CertCapture user account and begin with USER.
    • Your Company Data: These tags import details about your company begin with FROM.
  6. When you’re finished customizing your cover letter, at the bottom, click any of the following:
    • Update Cover Letter Template to save changes to your cover letter template.
    • Preview to download a copy of the cover letter in portable document format (PDF) so that you can see what it looks like before you print or email it.
    • Reset to reject all changes that you made to your cover letter template during this session so that it will appear just as it did before you began working on it.

Request from one customer

Only need to track down one document? Find the customer and quickly send a document request.

  1. To send a request to a single customer, select the appropriate company from the company hierarchy dropdown.
  2. On the CertCapture toolbar, click the Requests tab and select Send Request from the drop-down.
  3. On the Send Single Request page, type the customer number you would like to send a single request to. If you do not know the customer number, use the Search tab or the Quick Search bar to find the customer recordIf you have an Enterprise account and subscribe to the CertCapture for Retail, you can also select one of your customer's specific retail locations from the Location drop-down that appears beneath the Client field.
  4. Once you've entered a customer number, use the Cover Letter drop down to select the document you want to send. If you need to create a cover letter, go to Requests > Email Templates/Cover Letters and click the Add Cover Letter button.
  5. If you intend to send the cover letter by itself, click the Cover Letter Only checkbox above the Cover Letter drop-down.
  6. Use the Custom Message field to create a personalized message for your customer. This message is displayed above the “Dear Sir or Madam” line. For Standard Request letters, the content appears at the very top.
  7. From the Delivery Method drop-down, select one of the following options:
    • The Download option creates a PDF that is saved to your Download Center. To access it, click your name in the upper right of the dashboard and select Download Center in the drop-down.
    • The Email option generates an email that is sent to the email address entered beneath the drop down menu. The email content is an uneditable version of the cover letter you selected (and a PDF version of the cover letter is added to the email as an attachment)
    • The Fax option generates a faxed message sent to a fax number you'll designate in a field underneath the drop-down menu (when the fax option is selected
  8. If you selected the Cover Letter Only checkbox in Step 5, verify that the content of your request is correct and click Generate Request. CertCapture will either render a PDF download or send the request via your selected delivery method. If you plan to attach a document template, proceed to the next step.
  9. Select the exposure zones you would like to cover in this single request by clicking the checkbox next to the state names or by using the blue menu options at the top of the Exposure Zones table. If you have an Enterprise account, you have an additional option to add an exposure zone if a desired location doesn't populate in the table. To do so, click the Add ShipTo State/Zone button and choose the location you would like to add.
  10. Select an Exempt Reason from the drop-down. You may select one or all of the reasonsHoverTT.png available. After you make your selection, the appropriate certificate template appears under Exemption Certificate Templates
  11. Select the templates you would like to send the customer. If you have a Pro account, the certificate templates are selected automatically based on your exposure zone and exempt reason.
  12. Once you are satisfied with the contents of the single request, click Generate Request. CertCapture either renders a PDF download or sends the request via your selected delivery method.

Request from many customers

Request documents by sending an e-mail, letter, or fax to many customers at once. For help with search, see search for certificates and customers.

  1. On the CertCapture dashboard, on the Search menu, click Customer Search.
  2. On the Customer Search page, select the search criteria for customers you'd like to include in a campaign, and then click Get Search Results. When search results are returned, use the Perform Action On Results drop-down, and select New Campaign.
  3. In the Prepare Customer exemption certificate Campaign page, type a Campaign Title.
  4. To specify which customers from your search receive a document request, select any of the following fields:
    • Include Customers already in another campaign: Click to include any customers who are part of an existing campaign. CertCapture will send a document request to a customer even if that customer received a request in another campaign.
    • Omit Customers already in another campaign: Click to exclude any customers who are part of an existing campaign. CertCapture will not send multiple requests to the same customer.
    • Missing Certificate Exposures: Click to generate requests for exposure zones in which customer are missing certificates.
    • Invalid Certificate Exposures: Click to generate requests for exposure zones in which customers have invalid certificates.
    • Expired Certificate Exposures: Click to generate requests for exposure zones in which customers have expired certificates.
    • Include Soon To Expire Exposures: Click to generate requests for certificates that are currently valid but will expire within the specified number of days.
    • Taxable Exposures: Click to generate requests for customers who are classified as taxable or who have a taxable certificate.
    • Good Certificates (Non-exposures): Click to generate requests for customers with a valid certificate on file.
    • Billing Customers: Click to include all billing customers in the campaign. This is the most common selection.
    • Shipping Customers: Click to include all shipping customers in the campaign.
    • Exclude Same-As Relationships: Click to exclude from the campaign all customer records that are the same as the customers you selected for this mailing so that you don’t generate duplicate requests.
    • Expand Bill-to-Ship Addresses: Click to show both the bill-to and ship-to address in the cover letter
  5. At the bottom, choose Exempt Reasons, and then click Prepare exemption certificate Campaign.
  6. In the Edit Customer Certificate Campaign page, in the Round 1 tab, select the following fields:
    • Send Date: Specify the date when you expect to send the requests. This date is merged into the cover letter if you use the correct tag in the cover letter template.
    • Requested Return Date: Specify the deadline for customers to send the certificate to you. This date is merged into the cover letter if you use the correct tag in the cover letter template.
    • Generate Date: Specify the date you want CertCapture to generate the request files for email, print, or tax delivery. This field defaults to the day prior to the Send Date.
    • Method: This specifies how you request certificates from customers. You have three choices:
      • Postal Mail: Select to print a PDF for you to send requests to customers by postal mail. Contact your Customer Account Manager (CAM) to add Managed Services to your account where we mail the requests for you via USPS.
      • Email: Select to send requests to customers by email
      • Fax: Select to send requests to customers via fax
    • Cover Letter: Select the cover letter that you want to use for this request campaign. For help with cover letters, see create a cover letter template.
    • Cover Letters Only: Click to generate only cover letters without any exemption certificate templates.
    • Include Most Recent Invalid: Click to include with the requests a copy of the most recent invalid certificate that you have from each customer.
    • Include CertExpress access: Click to send an invitation to customers to use the online form submission tool to create certificates.
    • Automatically Send Round: Click to automatically send the request campaign on the Send Date you entered. If this option is not selected, you will have to manually launch the campaign by clicking the Send Emails tab on the bottom of the page.
    • Notes: Add notes about the request campaign. Customers will not see these notes.
  7. You may not be able to access all of the tabs. Access to the tabs depends on your campaign selections. And some tabs can't be accessed until you save your campaign changes. On the lower half of the page, click any of the following tabs.
    • View Cover Letter: Click to see the cover letter selected for the campaign.
    • View Email: Click to edit the campaign email. Some content of the email is automatically generated and cannot be edited.
    • Select Customers: Click to see which customers will be included in the campaign. To manually remove any customer from the campaign, click the check-box next to the customer number.
  8. If you want to add another round to your campaign, click the + next to the Round 1 tab, and then repeat steps 7 and 8. You can add multiple rounds to a campaign. For example, create an email campaign for the first round then follow that with a mailing campaign several weeks later. Each round can be customized.
  9. When you are finished editing your campaign, click Save Campaign Changes.
  10. To initiate your request campaign, on the lower half of the page, click one of the following tabs:
    • Print: Click this tab, and then click Create Printable File to create a printable file of the campaign documents.
    • Send Emails: Click this tab, and then click Send Certificate Requests to send the campaign email to the email address on file for each customer.
    • Send Faxes: Click this tab, and then click Send Certificate Requests to send the campaign letters using the fax number on file for each customer.