What is the difference between a Notary and a Solicitor?
Notaries form a small, highly specialised branch of the legal profession, whose area of specialisation is the preparation and certification of documents so that they may be used effectively abroad.
Solicitors form by far the largest part of the legal profession. They provide advice and representation to their clients on a wide variety of legal issues, usually within the legal framework of their country of residence.
One important difference between a Notary and a Solicitor is that whereas a Solicitor's primary duty is to his client, the Notary's primary duty is to the transaction and the authenticity of the documents. As Notary Publics are recognised worldwide, they have to maintain absolute integrity and impartiality to maintain the standing of the Notarial profession.
We are regulated by the Master of the Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
What is Legalisation or an Apostille?
Many countries also require notarised documents to be legalised. Legalisation is a double check to make sure that the notaries' signature is genuine and recognised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Documents may also be checked by foreign embassies to make sure that the Notary's signature matches the one on their records. The requirement for this will depend on the foreign country involved. Once the authenticity of the signature is confirmed, a certificate is attached, called an "Apostille".
Documents in a foreign language
If a document requiring notarisation is in a foreign language, it is usually necessary for the document to be translated by an official legal translator, who will then have to sign a statutory declaration certifying that it is a true translation.
In exceptional cases, the Notary may be satisfied to fix their seal of office and signature on documents in a foreign language, if they are fully satisfied that the person signing is conversant with the language of the document.
What identification does a Notary Public require?
Following the implementation of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, notaries are now obliged to keep sufficient evidence on their files of the identity and the address of all their clients before they undertake any work.
Each person whose signature they are to certify must provide one of the following original identification documents at the time of the appointment.
- Driving licence (with photo card)
- National identity card (EEA state members)
- An armed forces pass (with photo and signature)
- Firearms licence (with photo and signature)
- Other government issue ID (with photo and signature)
- Residence permit
- Benefit book or original notification letter from Benefits Agency
In addition, they require proof of residence, which can be one of the following original documents:
- Bank statement or letter from a bank
- Utility bill or council tax bill (not mobile phone bill)
- Tenancy agreement or Housing Association rent card
- Inland revenue tax demand or self-assessment statement
When a Notary Public is acting for a corporate client, evidence of the due incorporation of the company or entity is required. This can be one of the following documents
- Extract from the company register
- Certificate of incorporation
- Latest report and audited accounts
- Up to date certified copy of partnership agreement
- Evidence of being regulated by a regulatory body such as the Law Society or FSA.
In addition to the above, each individual signatory will need to produce one of the identification documents mentioned above.
What does it cost?
An early indication of the costs can usually be given in advance but so that we can establish the charges please tell us the following:
- What service you need - witnessing signatures, certifying copy documents, obtaining Apostille etc.
- The type of documents concerned - for instance, is it a Power of Attorney that you need witnessing
- Who is signing or presenting the documents - are they personal papers or for a Company?
- How many documents are there?
- Which country are they to go to?
Global Notarisation Requirements
We can help legalise documents for most countries. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.
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