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 customers' records. Now it’s time to upload compliance documents and process them. 

Upload and process all your customers' documents when you initially set up CertCapture. As you continue to do business and receive new exemption certificates, develop a routine for consistently processing incoming documents. Also monitor CertCapture for expiring documents, so you can reach out to customers to ask for new ones.

Add your customers' documents

There are several ways to add your customers' documents:

  • Your customers can submit them online
  • You and your customers can submit them by fax
  • You and your customers can submit them by email
  • If you're a CertCapture for Retail or eCommerce SDK user, your customers can upload them as part of an in-store or online transaction
  • You can use the upload button in CertCapture

If your customers submit documents online, by fax, by email, or as part of a retail or ecommerce transaction, the documents are uploaded to CertCapture and are ready for processing.

If you use CertCapture's upload button, prepare your customers' documents for upload by scanning them to PDF. There are a couple of ways to do this. The one you choose will impact the steps you take when it's time to upload your PDFs.

  • Scan each document to a single PDF, and then upload each PDF separately
  • Scan multiple documents into a single PDF. Then upload the PDF and use CertCapture to split it into separate exemption certificates.

When you've turned all your documents into PDFs, you're ready to upload them.

When you upload a new certificate in CertCapture to replace an existing certificate, the new document doesn't automatically replace the existing one. Understand the difference between active and historical certificates to learn how CertCapture uses a set of rules to determine which certificate is active.

Upload documents

  1. Click Data Entry on the toolbar, and then select Validate Documents. Next, click Upload Document.
  2. In the Upload Documents dialog:
    1. Click Choose File. Find and select the PDF you want to upload, and then click Open.
    2. Use the Priority drop-down to flag important documents for earlier processing.
    3. Use the Auto-Split drop-down to tell CertCapture whether or not to automatically split multi-page PDFs into single pages. Choose Yes to automatically split and No to leave all pages in one PDF.
    4. Place a check in the Claim Document box to assign the PDF to your profile, so others can't access or process it. Leave the box blank to send the PDF to the general processing queue, so anyone on your team can claim and process it.
    5. If you use CertCapture to manage more than one kind of document, you may see a Document Type drop-down. If so, choose the document type you're uploading.
    6. Use the Exposure Zone drop-down to pick the jurisdiction the exemption certificate covers. If you're processing a multi-page PDF where documents cover different jurisdictions, it makes sense to wait until later to pick a document category. If that's the case, skip this drop-down.
    7. Use the Document Category to digitize the document's exemption reason. If you're processing a multi-page PDF where documents have different exempt reasons, it makes sense to wait until later to pick a document category. If that's the case, skip this drop-down.
  3. Click Upload Stack, and your documents are uploaded and ready for processing.

Process documents

To process documents, click Data Entry on the CertCapture toolbar, and then click Validate Documents. In CertCapture PDFs are processed in phases.

  • First, PDFs are merged, which is where you use CertCapture to separate multi-page uploads into individual exemption certificates.
  • Next, each exemption certificate is validated, which is where you confirm the certificate's information, digitize it, and link it to a customer record.

The Stage column in the processing queue marks the status of each document. When a PDF enters the queue, it's marked Ready for Merge. When merging is complete, it's marked Ready for Validation. When validation is complete, the document leaves the processing queue.

Navigate the processing queue

What you see in the processing queue depends on the view you select from the Available Documents drop-down.

As documents enter the processing queue, they're sent to one of these views: Available Documents, My Unfinished Documents, or Documents Claimed by Others.

  • Pick Available Documents to see the general queue. Everyone on your team can see these documents. Anyone can claim and process documents from this list.
  • Pick My Unfinished Documents to see documents you've claimed. These documents are taken out of the general queue, so others don't claim and process them. Your team members only see these documents if they pick Documents Claimed by Others.
  • Pick Documents Claimed by Others to see documents other team members have claimed.


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.

Validate, copy data, and link a document to a customer

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, if the original document you uploaded has a Certificate Id of 500, once you've validated the document and have indicated that it's multi-jurisdictional, each jurisdiction is stored with a separate Certificate Id. The first jurisdiction keeps the Certificate Id of 500. Other jurisdictions are stored with next sequential Certificate Ids, like 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.

Escalate certificates for review

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)

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.