Frequently Asked Questions
Notaries are specifically authorised to carry out certain Reserved Activities under the Legal Services Act 2007 and can do any form of legal work except any contentious matter or taking cases to court.
Notaries are the oldest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales. Historical accounts record that one of the first legal conveyances in this country involved the grant of land by King Edward the Confessor to the Abbot of Westminster and was witnessed by Swardius – a papal notary. The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed notaries on papal authority until 1533, after which appointments were made by the Archbishop of Canterbury with the authority of the Parliament.
Often notaries are often also qualified as solicitors, but must undergo further qualification in Roman Law, Private International Law and Notarial Practice to qualify separately as a notary.
It is almost always the case that you have been asked to see a notary because you have a document that needs to be used abroad.
Using a notary is never a mere rubber-stamping exercise. The international duty of a notary involves a high standard of care. This is not only towards the client but also to anyone who may rely on the document and to Governments or officials of other countries. These people are entitled to assume that a notary will ensure full compliance with the relevant requirements both here and abroad; and to rely on the notary’s register and records. Great care and due diligence is essential at every stage to minimise the risks of errors, omissions, alterations, fraud, forgery, money laundering, the use of false identity, and so on.
The notary should normally witness your signature. Please do not sign the document in advance of your appointment.
Yes. We cannot usually confirm fees or our ability to assist without first seeing the proposed documents to be notarised, so it is helpful if these are emailed to us together with copies of any identity documents required before an appointment is made - see below "What documents do I need to provide to the Notary?".
We have meeting facilities at 1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ, but we can also meet you at your office or home if mutually convenient. If a notary comes to your offices to witness the documents being signed, we will need to take them back to our offices to complete the certification and recordation before returning them to you or forwarding them and any copies as per your request.
We will need individuals to produce the original of:
- Current passport; or, if not available
- current new driving licence (with photo) or national identity card; AND
- Full UK current driving licence (with photo), unless already provided as primary form of identification;
- A utility bill, credit card or bank statement showing; or
- Current address which should not be more than 3 months old or council tax bill.
You must also bring any other means of indentification which may be referred to as being required in any papers sent to you, such as a foreign Identity Card.
We may also ask to see further evidence of identity, for example, marriage certificates.
Corporate authority documents
If a document is to be executed on behalf of a company, a partnership, a charity, club or other incorporated body, additional documents may be required.
As a minimum, we will require:
- Evidence of identity of the authorised signatory (as listed above);
- A copy of the current letterhead (showing the registered office if it is a company); and
- A Letter of Authority, Minute of meeting, Resolution or Power of Attorney, authorising you to sign the document.
For companies, we will require a Certificate of Incorporation, any Change of Name certificate, a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and details of Directors and Company Secretary.
It is helpful if copies of identification/authorisation documents can be emailed to us in advance of any appointment and originals produced in person.
An Apostille is a certificate attached by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, confirming that a document has been signed by a notary public or other public official. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office sign and place their seal on the Apostille and attach this to the Notarial document or other public document which confirms its authenticity.
This is generally required by countries who are signatories to the Hague Convention where the document is required to be sent. Legalisation requirements are determined only by the country where the document is going, not by the UK government.
Documents going to countries which are, or have been, part of the British Commonwealth seldom need an Apostille nor, at present, do documents going to many parts of the United States.
Many countries require only one certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office called an Apostille and they charge an additional fee of £30.00 per document.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is located in Milton Keynes (see below) but a Premium Service for business users only with a 24-hour turnaround is available in London at a cost of £75 per document (plus courier fees).
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office address is: The Legalisation Office, The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, PO Box 6255 Milton Keynes MK10 1XX. They have a useful website at: www.fco.gov.uk
You can also check whether a country is a member of the Hague Convention at http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=states.listing
The main role of a Notary is to witness signatures, prepare copies of paperwork and the authentication of documents
Notaries and solicitors can both provide legal services, but notary services are a specific part of the legal profession. A notary public is typically a solicitor that has taken another qualification to become a notary public.
Meet us at:
(By appointment only)