A notary public is a qualified lawyer - a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in the United Kingdom. He is appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and is subject to regulation by the Court of Faculties. The rules which affect notaries are very similar to the rules which affect solicitors. They must be fully insured and maintain fidelity cover for the protection of their clients and the public. They must keep clients' money separately from their own and comply with stringent practice rules and rules relating to conduct and discipline. Notaries have to renew their practising certificates every year and can only do so if they have complied with the rules.
When is a notary required?
Many documents intended for use abroad require notarisation. You might be informed of this requirement by the other party to the transaction or the document itself might state it. Contact me if you are unsure whether a notary is required. Notaries are also permitted to draft wills and carry out conveyancing and property transactions, and in many cases we can offer a better value service than a solicitor.
Prior to your appointment
Personal attendance is required in most cases. You can attend at our office or we can visit you at any location of your selection. It is advisable to make an appointment before visiting the office in case we are attending on a client elsewhere.
It is very useful if you can provide the documents to be notarised in advance. It is quickest to send the documents by email but if you use postal services please ensure that there is plenty of time for us to receive the document before the appointment.
Do not sign the document in advance of your appointment.
What to bring to your appointment
In addition to the document(s) to be notarised, you will need to bring the following to your first appointment:
- an identity document such as a passport or driving licence; and
- proof of address, such as a utility bill from within the last 3 months.
If you are representing a company we will verify its existence and your authorisation. In most cases no further documents are required but if they are we will endeavour to inform you in advance.
During your appointment
Notarial services are specialised to each individual matter but in general you can expect that the notary will check the identity documents and make sure that you understand the contents of the document, in particular where it is in a foreign language. Where your signature to a document is required this should be done in the presence of the notary at the time of the appointment. Subject to this being satisfactory the notary will then proceed to notarise the document, and where relevant submit it to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for legalisation and/or an apostille. The notary will keep a copy of the identity documents provided and the document notarised. Most appointments where there are no complications should take around 20 minutes.
Most notarisation services can be provided same day.
Where a document requires an apostille (also called legalisation) from the government Foreign & Commonwealth Office they can take 5-7 days but we also offer courier and premium same-day services from London.