What is a Notary? A Notary is a qualified lawyer who deals mainly with documents intended for use outside the UK. Many notaries also practise as solicitors.
For example, a notary is usually needed when a person is arranging to buy or sell a foreign property, moving or working abroad, arranging for relatives or friends to visit from other countries or where a company has offices abroad or is entering into a contract with a foreign business.
Notarial work is very varied and may involve notarising a form to enable the payment of a foreign pension or notarising a statement (protest) given by the captain of a foreign ship which has been damaged by the elements on its way to it destination causing loss to its owners.
When signing a document, the notary certifies its authenticity by adding his or her signature and seal. Many foreign countries also require an Apostille certificate. This is obtained from the Foreign and Commonwealth certificate and is proof that the notary is qualified and that their seal is genuine. Certain countries also require their London-based Embassy to certify the notarised document and this processes are usually dealt with by the notary.
There are approximately 900 notaries in England and Wales and most of these also practise as solicitors.
What do I need to bring to an appointment with a Notary?
Most documents intended for use abroad must be prepared by a lawyer in that country. You will need to bring the original document/s which are to be notarised together with any instructions you have received. Every transaction is different and certain countries or certain foreign lawyers may specify everything from the wording to be used to whether handwritten amendments are permitted to the colour of ink which the notary may use.
You will need to provide the Notary with your passport and a utility bill confirming your residential address. In most cases a personal appointment is required and the notary must be able to confirm your identification.
The Notary will need to be satisfied that you understand any document before you sign it especially if the document is not in English. In some cases, a translation will be needed.