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Public and Private Laws

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Public and Private Laws
Legal Status and Use of Seals and Logos

The seal of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) authenticates the published editions of the public and private Acts of Congress issued under the authority of the Archivist of the United States. The public and private Acts of Congress are published in slip or pamphlet form and in the United States Statutes at Large. NARA's published editions are competent evidence of the public and private Acts of Congress in all the courts of law and equity and of maritime jurisdiction, and in all the tribunals and public offices of the United States, and of the several States, without any further proof or authentication. See 1 U.S.C. 106a, 112, and 113. It is prohibited to use NARA's official seal and stylized logos on any republication of this material without the express, written permission of the Archivist of the United States or the Archivist's designee. Any person who uses NARA's official seals and logos in a manner inconsistent with the provisions of 36 CFR part 1200 is subject to the penalties specified in 18 U.S.C. 506, 701, and 1017.

Public and private laws are also known as slip laws. A slip law is an official publication of the law and is competent evidence admissible in all state and Federal courts and tribunals of the United States. Public laws affect society as a whole, while private laws affect an individual, family, or small group.

After the President signs a bill into law, it is delivered to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where it is assigned a law number, legal statutory citation (public laws only), and prepared for publication as a slip law. Private laws receive their legal statutory citations when they are published in the United States Statutes at Large.
Prior to publication as a slip law, OFR also prepares marginal notes and citations for each law, and a legislative history for public laws only. Until the slip law is published, through the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), the text of the law can be found by accessing the enrolled version of the bill. About Public and Private Laws.