Keys provide authorized people access to a room or an area. For instance, only you and your roommates have working keys in an apartment that will allow you all to get in. The same is true in your office, where you and your colleagues are only authorized to step in using certain keys. However, there are some areas in your business establishment where only a few people have access to them. In most cases, these few worthy people hold keys that say, “do not duplicate.”

The question is: can these “do not duplicate” keys be copied at all? That’s what we will discuss further in this article.

What to know about “do not duplicate” keys

Yes, some keys actually have a marking that says, “do not duplicate”—or any equivalent to that. As the wordings would suggest, they aren’t meant to be reproduced. But the truth is that these keys can still be copied or duplicated. Until today, there’s no existing law that will hold one accountable for doing so. Sure, some hardware stores may refuse to produce a copy of these keys, but in reality, any locksmith can easily and quickly duplicate them.

What “do not duplicate” keys are for

Property owners and managers typically use them as a way to regulate security. They try to control security violations from former tenants, terminated employees, or those who gain possession of these keys. 

As you may or may not be aware, key duplication leading to unauthorized access remains a top security threat. In fact, it is one of the most violated policies in the world of business, which is why some business owners and even property owners rely on these types of keys.

How these “do not duplicate” keys don’t provide security

Sure, the markings on these keys are seen to have significantly reduced their number of copies in circulation over the years. This is why they have provided some sense of security. But the truth is that they do not ensure the utmost security, as they can still be duplicated. In fact, they do give a false sense of security to the key holder. The chances are that crooked individuals have already reproduced these keys and are planning to wreak havoc on your property. 

Because of this, your household or business needs to consider real security solutions seriously.

What better alternatives you can resort to

The good news is that there are other ways to increase your security, whether at home or in your business. In this case, you won’t necessarily have to rely on these “do not duplicate” keys. Instead, you can bank on real, concrete solutions that will boost your property’s security. Here are some alternative solutions to consider:

1. Restricted keys

Did you know that some keys cannot be duplicated at all? If you insist on doing so, you will be held legally liable. These are called restricted keys, covered by the US patent laws that protect manufacturers of specialized lock and key systems. If your business has a high-security requirement, restricted keys can be your most viable solution.

2. Rekeying the locks

Another way to increase your security is by rekeying your locks. It’s best to do so regularly so that you can control access and prevent unauthorized entry. But as soon as you suspect duplicate keys compromising your business, have the locks rekeyed as soon as possible.

3. Investing in locks

It’s best to invest in and install brand new locks for your home or business. While you’re at it, be sure to go for those designed to be more difficult to pick. If it helps, opt for smart electronic locks for superior security.


At this point, we’ve learned about what it takes to copy “do not duplicate” keys. While they serve a purpose for the holders, they aren’t highly reliable for your security as they can be reproduced. To that end, be sure to follow the recommendations above to boost your security at home or in your business because security and protection must always be a top priority!
We’re a full-service allied locksmith in Cincinnati, OH, providing a wide selection of security products and offering lock and key services. If you need a highly reliable locksmith, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!