Abstract : Certificates to a linear algebra computation are additional data structures for each output, which can be used by a—possibly randomized— verification algorithm that proves the correctness of each output. In this paper, we give an algorithm that compute a certificate for the minimal polynomial of sparse or structured n × n matrices over an abstract field, of sufficiently large cardinality, whose Monte Carlo verification complexity requires a single matrix-vector multiplication and a linear number of extra field operations. We also propose a novel preconditioner that ensures irreducibility of the characteristic polynomial of the preconditioned matrix. This preconditioner takes linear time to be applied and uses only two random entries. We then combine these two techniques to give algorithms that compute certificates for the determinant, and thus for the characteristic polynomial, whose Monte Carlo verification complexity is therefore also linear.