These notes are intended to help you understand the work that the Notary Public has to do. I hope that they may save time and expense, both for you and me. They are not exhaustive, and not every point covered will apply in every case.
2. Apostille and Legalisation
An Apostille is a certificate given by the UK Government through the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office that confirms the signature or seal of the Notary Public on the document is genuine.
The Apostille is accepted in an increasing number of countries without further formality.
However, some countries still require notarial documents to be legalised, which, in addition to the Apostille, means that the document must be presented to the Consulate in the country's Embassy, or other diplomatic representation of the country where the document is to be used, for a further certificate to be endorsed.
For a small additional fee I will be happy to deal with both the Apostille and Legalisation procedure for you using my agents in London
You can deal with legalisation yourself which would save my fee for arranging legalisation and my agents' fees
Your signature should normally be witnessed by me, the Notary. Please do not jump the gun by signing the document in advance of your appointment with me.
4. Timing of Receipt of Completed Document
The likely timescale will be as follows
Stages of Transaction after Notarisation Document received by Client/Addressee
Not involving legalisation On the day of the appointment, subject to payment of my fee, unless otherwise agreed
Legalisation by Apostille at FCDO By post to you using Royal Mail Special Delivery
In the UK 3 working days after the date of notarisation
If sent abroad this will depend on the Postal Service of the receiving country
3 working days after the date of notarisation but can be longer with some countries
Legalisation by Apostille at FCDO and at Embassy The likely date of receipt will depend on the timescale of the Embassy concerned. This can be checked at our appointment
5. Papers to Be Sent to Me in Advance
It can save time, expense, and mistakes if, as long before the appointment as possible, you can let me have the originals or photocopies of:
- The documents to be notarised;
- Any letter or other form of instruction which you have received about what has to be done with the documents;
- Your evidence of identification.
I will need you to produce by way of formal identification the original of (in preferred order):
- Your current passport or, if not available;
- A current new driving licence (with photo)
- A current old style driving licence (without photo);
- Security pass, or other formal means of identification;
- Any other means of ID which may be referred to in the papers sent to you as being required.
- If any of the above do not incorporate a good photographic likeness, please be ready to let me have a recent photograph for me to retain with my records.
- A utility bill or bank statement, in either case less than three months old, showing your current address;
7. Proof of Names
In a case where the name on the document is different from the name you are currently using, or there has been a variation in the form of spelling of the name over the years, please provide me with, eg, Certificates of Birth, Baptism, Marriage, or a Divorce Decree. If there has been a change of name, then I will need to see a copy of the Deed Poll or Statutory Declaration which dealt with it.
8. Companies, Partnerships, etc
You must advise me in advance if a document is to be signed by you on behalf of a company, a partnership, a charity, club or other incorporated body to enable me to carry out my own verification procedures before we meet. There may then be further requirements on which I may have to insist. Please be prepared for these and telephone with any point of difficulty before attending on the appointment.
In each case I will require:
1. Evidence of identity of the authorised signatory.
2. A Letter of Authority, Minute, Resolution or Power of Attorney, authorising the signatory to sign the document.
Additionally, UK companies:
When you advise me in advance I will be able to check
1. Certificate of Incorporation and of any Change of Name.
2. Any Memorandum and Articles of Association.
3. Details of Director(s) and the Company Secretary.
Additionally, foreign companies
It is essential that I am advised of this at the initial stage. I will need to verify the existence of the company and the status of the signatory. It may be necessary for me to pay a fee to the relevant foreign Company or Business Registry to obtain this information, which will have to be reimbursed.
Additionally, partnerships, clubs, etc:
1. A Partnership Agreement; or relevant Trust Deed; or Charter; or Constitution/Rules.
I may have to insist on seeing originals of these documents. If you do show me photocopies, they would have to be certified on behalf of the person holding the originals and who may not be able to release them. The certificate should be in the following form:
I certify that this (with the following ….pages) is a true and complete copy of the original document which is currently held by me.
Full name of signatory:
Who certifies in his/her capacity as:
Signature ……………………………… Date …………………………….
9. Chain of Evidence
Notarisation is accepted as a safeguard under international law. The signature and seal of the Notary Public are recognised as a link in the chain of evidence relating to international documents. If therefore I seem to you to be a bit fussy over minor details, please understand the responsibility placed on me!
10. Examining the Evidence
Careful examination by the Notary Public is required to check whether both the document to be notarised and your personal ID are original, genuine, valid, complete, accurate, and unaltered.
11. Incomplete Documents
The Notary has to check that each document to be notarised is fully completed. Unfortunately, many documents produced as ready for signature have blank spaces left in them, not always intentionally! This occurs even when they have been prepared by other lawyers or professional advisers. If you can help in identifying the information needed to complete any blanks in documents, it will save time when we meet. However, please do not mark the document itself until I have seen it.
12. No Advice on the Document
If you bring a document to me for official witnessing as a Notary Public, it is not usually necessary for me to read and understand all aspects of the document. Whilst I will advise you as to the formalities required for completing it, I shall not be attempting to advise you about the transaction itself. I am acting as an official witness, not as a legal adviser.
13. Written Translations
It is important that you understand what you are signing. It may not be essential for me to fully understand the contents of the document if it is in a foreign language.
Sometimes a professional translation is required either before or after you have signed the document.
- If it is in a foreign language which you do not understand sufficiently, I may have to insist that a translation be obtained. If I arrange for a translation, a further fee will be payable.
- Unless you have a good understanding of the language yourself, an informal or amateur translation is rarely satisfactory.
- If you arrange for a professional translation, the translator should add his/her name, address, relevant qualification, and a certificate stating: “Document X is a true and complete translation of document Y, to which this translation is attached.” If the translation is required to be notarized the signature to the certificate should be made in front of a Notary Public
14. Oral Interpreter
If you and I cannot understand each other because of a language difficulty, we may have to make arrangements for a competent interpreter to be available at our interview and this may involve a further fee.
15. And Finally
When I carry out my work for you, I am required to make an entry in a formal register which is kept by me as a permanent record. I will retain a copy of the notarised documentation with that record. I can be required to deal with queries from e.g. foreign lawyers, Land Registries or Embassies to confirm the fact that you saw me and the nature of the identity evidence which you provided, and the details of the document which I notarised.