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Notary public

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What is a Notary? 

A Notary Public is a highly skilled specialist and a member of the oldest branch of the legal profession. A Notary is a public official sanctioned by the state to prepare and authenticate official documents for use overseas. 

A Notary will need to check that you are who you say you are; that you are the person who should be signing the document and that you have the capacity to understand the nature and effect of the document. This is why your Notary will ask for proof of your identity and address and such requirements may be satisfied through the provision of a driving licence or passport and an up to date bank statement, council tax statement or utility bill. 

Once satisfied of your identity, your Notary will sign the document and, by then affixing his or her seal of office, the document is given international legal status that parties and officials in other countries can rely upon.  Consequently, there is more to a Notary Public than the simple witnessing or stamping of a document. This authenticated document is known as a ‘Notarial Act’. 

What a Notary does 

The most common tasks a Notary will be asked to fulfil will be:- 

  • Preparing and authenticating Powers of Attorney for use overseas. 
  • Dealing with the purchase or sale of land and property abroad. 
  • Authenticating foreign Wills and providing documents to deal with the administration of estates of those people who have died abroad or who own property abroad. 
  • Authenticating a range of personal documents and information for immigration or emigration purposes or to apply to marry or work abroad, such as educational or professional qualifications or declarations of freedom to marry (certificate of no impediment). 
  • Authenticating company and business documents and transactions or providing certificates of good standing as to the status of a company or the identity of its directors. 

But if you are in doubt as to what we can do, please contact us directly. 


Once you have the Notarial Act, the person requiring the document in the receiving jurisdiction must decide whether to accept it or not. 

In some jurisdictions, the Notarial Act will be accepted without any further authentification, which is most likely to happen if a jurisdiction is part of the Commonwealth or a former British possession such as Australia or Canada. 

Other receiving jurisdictions may require authentication of the Notary’s signature and status from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). If a country is a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention then an apostille sticker is attached to the document by the FCO to enable it to be accepted in the receiving jurisdiction.  Nothing further should be required. 

For those countries who are not members of the Hague Apostille Convention then consular legalisation may be needed which means that once the individual Notary has been authenticated by the FCO the FCO will then have the legalisation stamp authenticated by the Consulate of the relevant country. 


The cost of dealing with your document will ultimately depend on a number of factors, including the number and complexity of the documents; whether there is a special urgency; if we have to draft the documents, arrange legalisation or other authentication or liaise with your overseas lawyers because of the incompleteness of the documents. 

There may also be disbursements for the legalisation of the documents. The FCO currently charges £30 per document for documents to be turned around in two working days, although this may be more in peak times. A same day service operates for £75.00 per document. We can liaise with couriers to expedite matters and, if so, you will pay their charges together with our modest fee for arranging the same. 

Please be mindful that if consular legalisation is required, then some embassies or High Commissions charge more than others with some Arabic countries being at the top end. 

If the matter is straightforward such as the certifying of a passport, then we can agree a fixed fee. 

Please contact us for a costs estimate. 

Next steps 

  • Telephone, email or simply call in to arrange an appointment with a notary. 
  • Ensure that you bring identity verification (i.e. passport, driving licence or national identity card) together with address verification such as a utility bill; council tax statement or bank statement which is not more than three months old.  Please note that mobile telephone bills are not acceptable. 
  • We will need to be satisfied that you understand the documents and intend to be bound by them, particularly if they are in a foreign language, which means that we may insist on a translation and this will incur additional costs. 
  • We are unable to advise you on the contents of the document since our duty is to all parties to the transaction, so you may need to seek legal advice from lawyers in the receiving jurisdiction. We will, however, be happy liaise with these lawyers so as to clarify any questions that may arise during the transaction. 
  • You will also need to provide us with all relevant documentation received from overseas in relation to the transaction as this may include important instructions as to how the overseas lawyers want us to notarise documents. 
  • If you are signing on behalf of someone else, for example as an attorney or a company director, we will need to see the power of attorney or company minutes and/or resolutions before we can act for you.  

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