Notary Public: Frequently asked questions
What is a notary public.
- A Notary is a qualified lawyer and a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales.
- Notaries are primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity relating to documents for use abroad.
- They are also authorised to conduct general legal practice (excluding the conduct of court proceedings) such as conveyancing and probate. They may exercise the powers of a Commissioner for Oaths.
What is the difference between a notary and solicitor?
- A Solicitor is trained in English law and typically deals with general legal practice, either contentious or non-contentious. They are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and form the largest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales.
- Notaries however, whilst also permitted to conduct general legal practice, focus on the highly specialised area of ensuring documents executed in England and Wales are valid in foreign jurisdictions. They are appointed for life by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury and regulated by the Master of the Faculties.
Why do I need a notary and not a solicitor?
- Notaries, by virtue of training and status, are regarded as a higher authority in the authentication of documents.
- Whilst legal transactions within the UK will often only require a solicitor’s assistance, when a document is used abroad the authorities in the foreign jurisdiction will often seek to rely on the higher form of authentication by a notary.
What type of documents do you notarise?
- We notarise a wide range of documents, including but not limited to:
- Adoption documents, affidavits/oaths, application forms, articles of association, bank statements, bills of sale, certificates of change of name, certificates of good standing, certificates of incorporation, change of name deed polls, company documents, consent to travel, contracts, educational certificates, degree certificates, HMRC certificates, loan agreements, memorandum of associations, minutes of meetings, mortgage documents, passports, property transactions, powers of attorney, resolutions, share certificates, statutory declarations, trademark assignments, utility bills.
What is an Apostille?
- This refers to a stamp by the government of the country where a document has been issued or certified. If a document has been notarised abroad, it will need to be Apostilled in the country where this occurred.
- In the UK, once a document has been notarised it will need to go HM Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be stamped with the Apostille.
- An Apostille provides an international certification, and an added level of authentication to documents going abroad.
Do I need an Apostille?
- The standard rule is that if the document is going to a country who have signed up to the Hague Convention of 1961, the document will need an Apostille.
- In practice, many countries who are members of the Commonwealth do not require the Apostille.