Notary Public FAQ
Below are answers to some of the questions we are asked most frequently about what Notaries do.
What Is A Notary?
A Notary, otherwise known as a Notary Public, is a qualified lawyer who has been appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are regulated by the Court of Faculties.
What Does A Notary Do?
A Notary usually deals with the preparation and authentication of documents for use abroad. Notaries are recognised internationally,
prepares Notarial Acts for documents executed in England and Wales for use everywhere in the world. The Notary’s work includes drafting, reviewing and explanation of legal documents for use outside the UK.
There are two basic types of Notarial Act; those in Private Form and those in Public Form.
The Private Form is when a Notary attaches a Notarial Certificate by way of authentication to a document thus converting it into a Notarial Act.
The Public Form is an Authentic Act/Instrument drafted by a Notary, which will include verification of identity, legal capacity and understanding of the document and awareness of the contents and confirming authority to enter into the transaction e.g. in the case of a corporate body and also authenticating the contents after verifying the same.
The Official Seal of a Notary
A Notary holds an official seal which has a probative force and is recognised as evidence of a responsible official legal officer in all countries of the world. The Rules of the Supreme Court provide that “A Notarial Act or Instrument may be received in evidence without further proof as duly authenticated in accordance with the requirements of the law unless the contrary is proved”.
Getting Ready To See One of our Notaries
Each case will be different, but usually the Notary will:
- Expect you to make an appointment
- Need you to bring evidence of identity as detailed in our Explanatory Note about Identification Requirements for Individual Clients such as at least a current valid passport, a driving licence and official document showing your National Insurance Number and proving your address – please see our web page entitled “Identification Requirements”.
- Need to be satisfied that you understand the document(s), particularly a document which is not in English.
- want to see any relevant papers or documents that relate to the matter
If you prefer a visit to your office or home this can be arranged, but there will be an additional fee.
How long will it take?
If the document is straightforward, already properly prepared and in the correct form, the Notary is likely to need to see you for a minimum of 15-20 minutes and complete the documentation in half an hour or an hour. Obviously it takes longer if the document is not straightforward, or the Notary has to draw up the document or deal with any non-routine aspects.
How much does it cost?
The fee will be based upon how much time it is necessary to spend on your matter.
Where only one visit to the Notary is required, it is expected that you will pay the Notary’s fee at the time of your visit. Please contact me for an estimate of the cost.
My Notarial Practice is not registered for VAT and so no VAT is payable on top of our fees.
Legalisation services and what is an Apostille?
Often, once a document has been notarised, further formalities may have to be undertaken before it can be sent and used overseas – this may involve consular or embassy legalisation (often referred to simply as "legalisation") and/or an Apostille.
Legalisation is a process by which papers are confirmed as authentic in the country of origin so that overseas organisations or authorities will accept them.
An Apostille is a certificate issued by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office ('FCO') confirming the signature and seal of the notary, in accordance with the Hague Convention covering international legal matters.
An "apostille" attests to the validity of the signature of the Notary, but not the contents of the document.
The FCO had recently relocated to Milton Keynes, but the public counter is now closed to members of the public. We can at additional expense use a courier service and agents to send your document to the FCO office in London for an expedited service for obtaining an Apostille.
All countries signed up to the Hague Convention will accept documents with an Apostille endorsed. Some countries still also require notarial documents to be legalised by their Embassies or Consulate. In those circumstances the document has to be presented to the embassy or consulate of the country where the document is to be used. Again, we can arrange for this to be undertaken.
Foreign language documents
Where a document is in a foreign language the Notary may ask you to have it translated and sign it in English and it may have to be translated in the country to which it is to be sent. Similarly, arrangements may have to be made for a competent professional interpreter to be available at the interview.
All our Notaries are authorised and regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury of 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3JT and are members of the Notaries Society (of England and Wales).
Our Terms of Business
To view our complete Terms of business in printable format please click here.
If you do have a complaint, please refer the matter back to ourselves. If you are not satisfied you can refer the matter to the Faculty Office.