Notarial Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to attend in person?
It is essential that whoever is signing the document comes to the appointment in person and signs in the presence of the notary. Please do not sign your document before you come.
How much does the notary service cost?
We like to have as much detail as possible beforehand about the proposed transaction as it is not easy to quote accurately without this. A simple transaction will be subject to our minimum fee for one document, currently £75 or £150 if for business use. We will give an estimate beforehand and either quote a fee, or the basis on which it is calculated before work is started. There are additional charges for disbursements or expenses.
What identification does the notary need?
Notaries are required to obtain evidence of the identity and the address of all clients before they undertake any work. Each person whose signature is to be certified must provide one of the following original identification documents at the time of the appointment:
Plus, one proof of address:
Corporate clients may need to provide evidence of the existence of the company or other form of business entity. Partnership clients may need to provide a copy of their partnership agreement.
In addition to the above, individual signatories will need to bring their personal identification documents.
What is legalisation and what is an apostille?
Legalisation or authentication means confirmation of the authenticity of a notarised document which may be required for some countries and documents. The consulate of the country in which the document is to be used will apply its official stamp after the document has been signed and sealed by the notary. Notaries must provide consulates with specimens of their signatures and seals so that they can be compared to the documents to confirm that they are genuine.
In order to simplify the legalisation process, countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention have opted for a certificate known as an apostille. An apostille is issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK. It is attached to a document once it has been signed and sealed by a notary. The purpose of this is to authenticate the signature and seal of the notary, whose details are kept on the FCO’s register.
Countries which are not signatories to the Hague Convention may require consular legalisation in addition to FCO legalisation. A document must be sent to the FCO to be sealed prior to legalisation at the relevant consulate.
When taking instructions on the execution of your document, it is worth checking on the requirements for legalisation. Consular fees for legalisation vary and they need to be checked with the relevant consulate.
The FCO is in Milton Keynes. It charges a fee currently of £30 per document for an apostille. Documents must be sent by post. We charge a fee, currently £50, for arranging this service. The document usually comes back to us within a week.
If you need an apostille urgently, as business users we are able to send documents by courier to the FCO central London office which offers a same day premium service at a cost, currently £75 per apostille. To arrange this, we currently charge £150.
What should I do before I see a notary?
When you have a document to be notarised, you should seek advice and clarification on its content and use from your advisor in the country where it will be used. If possible, please email the document and instructions to us in advance, so that the notary is able to advise accurately on the fee for the work and whether there are any irregularities or inaccuracies that may need to be amended or clarified before you come to see us.
How do I get my document translated?
If the document requires translation, we may be able to recommend a translator. We do not offer translation services ourselves.
What do I do if I have no document and I need help to prepare one?
It may be possible for us to prepare a document for you. However, our notary is only familiar with the law in England and Wales and are not able to guarantee that a document will meet the requirements of a foreign jurisdiction.
Sometimes notaries will need to prepare a more formal document (notarial certificate) in order to attest to facts witnessed by or proved to them and attested under their signature and seal. If the notary prepares a document for you, there will be an additional charge.
What records does a notary keep?
In addition to copies of your identity documents, we will also keep a full copy in electronic form of any official documents produced to us or that we produce for you as a permanent record. As a notary is a public official, documents and records including copies are open to inspection by anyone who has a proper interest in them.
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