For millennia, humans have been trying to lock up their belongings in a safe way using both physical and psychological methods. Along with house keys themselves, one question has plagued key users for decades: can I actually copy a key that says “Do Not Duplicate”?
Short Answer: Yes
It’s hard to say exactly when the foreboding duplicate message was first used on keys, since it is just a stamp on the key after all. However, this message is more of a reminder than a hard and fast rule.
‘Do Not Duplicate’ generally aims to provide some confidence in a key being the only one of its kind and to scare off would-be thieves from copying a key for themselves. Since these keys are generally used as either house keys or business keys, it’s easy to see how this adds an extra level of protection. However, duplicating a house key of this type is not illegal and often may be necessary if multiple people need to enter areas protected by this warning.
Some Places Still Won’t Copy ‘Do Not Duplicate’ Keys
While there may not be any legal peril that will come from copying your “Do Not Duplicate” key, some stores that offer key duplicating services may still opt to observe this warning and not make your copy. This more so serves to protect them should any woes come from unsavory people making copies of house keys they shouldn’t have.
Duplicating Your Key? Call a Locksmith
Even though hardware stores may turn down your request, locksmiths won’t hesitate to make a duplicate on a blank key. Depending on the locksmith you go to, there’s a chance they might require some proof that you’re allowed to access the facility or dwelling that uses this key. Be sure to call before you go down to ensure you’ve got any documents required to make a key copy, or find a locksmith that isn’t as stringent with their requirements if you’re really in a rush.
Restricted Keys Mean Extra Security
The “Do Not Duplicate” tag is meant to reference what’s known as a “restricted” key – keys that are patented by a given entity and usually can’t be copied with normal tools. In this case, any attempts to copy a restricted key won’t get very far and you won’t be able to obtain a copy unless it’s from the original source. Unlike standard ‘Do Not Duplicate’ keys, copying restricted keys can carry hefty fines and other penalties, so it’s best not to try your luck.
Have a restricted key and absolutely need a duplicate copy? You’ll most likely need to contact the manufacturer for more information on how to obtain a spare key. Although restricted keys do help businesses and homes stay safer, replacing these keys when you’ve lost them presents a problem all in itself.
No matter what your next course of action is, locksmiths will usually be able to answer your questions should you need their assistance. Seek one out and see what they can do for your specific situation.