are fake diplomas legal or illegal

Walking across that stage on graduation day and being handed a diploma is a feeling unlike much else. Immediately, that diploma can offer change in your life, whether it’s better job opportunities or respect for friends and family. A diploma can also be a keepsake of your time spent at school, friends you made, teachers you loved and hated, and so forth.

On the other hand, not everybody gets to graduate school. Some people are forced to leave school unexpectedly, leaving behind any chance at getting that diploma handed to them. This is because life can hand us curve balls and challenges that can get in the way of our goals and aspirations. For some dropouts, such as high school dropouts, they may look to purchase a fake diploma from a high school one day down the road. Knowing each person's personal reasons for wanting one, some people immediately get heated that the idea of such items exists in the marketplace, without considering the rooted intentions of somebody like this dropout.

By buying diplomas online, somebody is able to get a custom made document that looks and feels like a real diploma. The document reminds them of what they almost once had. It may also give them a false sense of accomplishment or this belief that they know everything they think they need to know, just to reassure themselves of their status. Whether that is right or wrong, it certainly isn't illegal. A boost in esteem may provide, among many things, a desire to return to school and pursue a real degree. Something many haters of these novelties don't stop to consider.

This article discusses more about fake diplomas being sold online and whether they are always 100% without a doubt illegal or somewhat misunderstood legal products when used as intended.

A Fake Diploma Being 100% "Illicit" or "Always Legitimate" is Difficult to Judge

crazy judge with wacky hair making an outragous ruling crazy judge with wacky hair making an outragous ruling

Most people assume that getting a fake diploma is without a doubt, no questions asked, truly and undeniably illegal and simply holding one in your hands will have yo doing hard time. Yet, contrary to what internet conspiracy theorists and bloggers seeking click-bait want to preach that simply isn't true. Creating, purchasing, and owning a fake diploma is entirely legal.

If you spend some time on the web researching the term “fake diplomas” the belief is that if you buy one somebody will knock on your door at 3AM, take your family away and you’ll never be seen from again. Let me be clear, if you're designing, buying and holding a fake diploma in your hands, it is entirely 100% legal. 

That isn’t to say there aren't actions you can take with your fake diploma that aren’t legal. People who abuse such documents in ways that could be illegal, against the advice of suppliers providing them, give this novelty print industry as a whole a bad reputation and make it difficult for those who need these documents for legitimate reasons.

More information about the legal issues associated with fake diplomas are below.

Fact #1: Making and Buying a Fake Diploma is 100% Legal

There are people who choose to make a diploma themselves by designing one in PhotoShop. There are people who choose to buy one, have it shipped to their home and hang it on their wall. Neither of which is a crime. Maybe you want to frame it and use it as a set piece or prop for a community play with some friends.

This is because owning or creating a custom diploma for personal use is one thing. Falsely claiming your records or pretending you have credentials, you don’t have to land a job or gain acceptance to a school is another thing altogether. It’s also something no legitimate supplier will encourage (quite the contrary) and such an attempt could land you in STEAMING HOT water.

Fact #2: Using it Beyond Novelty or Personal Replacement Use Can Be Questionable and Illegal

Although it's not illegal to buy or make fake diplomas, it's considered fraud if you try to pass them off as real. This is just use being frank with you. If you submit a fake diploma to a potential employer, or to college admission councils, you're lying about something that people need to know about.

It’s really simple. Can you make you one? Yes. Can you hire somebody else to help you make one? Yes. Can you show it off to friends or frame it in your wall? Sure thing. Where it gets dicey is applying for a job and using a fake diploma as false proof that you graduated or have the credentials to do a job.  In this case you are lying about your credentials which is 100% illegal. Doing the same, as in lying to get accepted into a school is the same thing, although the penalty may or may not be as serious depending on local laws.

In most cases either action could be considered fraud and you could face charges. As far as what charges, I’m not a lawyer and I'm not here to provide legal advice and penalties will obviously change area to area.

Very few, if any, buy fake diplomas to scam the system

We know the establishment will want you to believe that every single fake diplomas is purchased to deceive and create havoc. That is not true. There are many legitimate reasons why people buy fake diplomas, including bringing a much-needed smile to their esteem. Quickly replacing diplomas for personal reasons when a school is slow to present, as personal backups, to safeguard originals, as props for movies and tv shows, and so forth.

There are legally solid reasons why people want such a document and punishing an entire industry because of the actions of a few irresponsible fools is not fair to everybody else in our honest option. 

Is this to say that nobody has ever purchased a fake and used it illegal? I am sure they have. In a rare case, industries often work with individual authorities as their goal is to stop such improper use that damages the reputation of the industry. Site terms, document disclaimers, etc. All discourage this use and limit how likely such actions would or could occur.

A Degree Mill is Illegal But Not All Fake Diplomas Come From Mills

diploma of graduation folder with shiny gold letting sitting next to black graduation cap and rolled up diploma with red ribbon diploma of graduation folder with shiny gold letting sitting next to black graduation cap and rolled up diploma with red ribbon

One of the biggest problems with the term "fake diplomas" is that it’s easy to lump all segments of the industry (from mills to novelty print shops) in as a whole. One example of this is diploma mills (or degree mills). A mill is a company illegally operating as a school so they can illegally provide/sell issued degrees under that school's name.

A mill will often gladly verify any diploma they sell for the purposes of helping customers land jobs they are not qualified for or getting somebody into a school they don’t deserve to attend.

Many of these mills continue to operate even in because they stay in business due to many gray areas. For example, let’s say I decide to start my own mill called “Sunshine Technical School” where I hand out degrees in business. So people go to my nice website and there I give them a test that I created. If they answer all the questions on my test to my satisfaction, they are not proud graduates of “Sunshine Technical School”. Then “Sunshine Technical School”  not only gives them a diploma, but they will allow you to tell others you graduated from “Sunshine Technical School” and have a degree.

You may be asking yourself, “why is Sunshine allowed to graduate students?” It’s because we set our own standards as far as what constitutes graduating from our school. Once the standards are met, you’re a graduate.

What allows businesses in this great area to operate, in some areas of the world, are the same standards that allow for religious schools. If a religious school wants to set its own standards for science because of their beliefs, they are allowed to hang out science degrees and verify those science degrees because of their religious rights. A school like Sunshine is simply setting their own education standards and handing out what they call life experience degrees or better put, degrees from a mill.

This is not always the case. Other times companies will just setup a school and hang out diplomas, claiming they are legitimate even without operating in anyway like a school (their own standards or not). These shutdown all the time.

A site like is a novelty print shop; not a mill. They are providing you with an awesome looking “piece of paper” or a “work of custom document art”. Any other use beyond its intended novelty or personal replacement use is discouraged. You will never hear us tell you have earned a degree with us or say we are awarding you a diploma. This is not a mill folks. Unlike diploma and degree mills, a novelty print shop is not granting or issuing educational degrees, contrary to what many ill informed people wish to believe.

A Fake Diploma on the Surface is Simply Put a Work of Art on Paper

a diploma framed and placed in an art gallery like a beautiful work of art masterpiece a diploma framed and placed in an art gallery like a beautiful work of art masterpiece

When we look past the undeserving negative reputation that such documents carry, we can see what a fake diploma truly is... a work of art on paper. Such diplomas or transcripts, as we see them as passionate designers, is a piece of art as breathtaking as the Mona Lisa. Don’t agree with us?  Go look carefully at a historic college diploma from the 1930’s and take a moment to step back and admire the integral detail in its fancy decorative border, the handwritten calligraphy and the glistening of the sparkly shiny gold foil stamp. If you can’t admire any of that as art, you may need to rethink your idea of just what art is.

The fact is, like most anything else you buy, there are legal and illegal uses somebody could attempt with a fake diploma. That is no doubting that fact. Yet, any questionable actions you take with any object you obtain should be carefully thought through and contemplated, as any reasonable person would do. Let's look at it as a different analogy.

Say you bought car. The decision to speed and put others in danger is a decision you make yourself and pay the consequences for. Sure, you could argue a point if the car dealer thought you about how to speed, how to get out of a ticket and how to avoid the police. In that case they would be encouraging such illegal activity and enabling you. A novelty print shop is providing you piece of paper, a work of art, and that's it. We're not verifying anything. We're not issuing anything. We're not encouraging misuse of any kind, regardless of what self-proclaimed whistleblowers, with too much time on their hands, want to push.

As long as you respect a phony diploma for what it’s intended to be, it can bring joy to your life, get a good laugh and you can help stop the negative connotations the industry has fought against over the years because of people who misuse them.