Absolutely essential FAQs:
What Notary Services do you provide?
We notarise documents for use all over the world:
- power of attorney signed in the presence of a notary
- certified copy documents, such as examination certificates
- copies of passports for bank accounts and other purposes
- statutory declarations made before a notary public
- transfers of land, houses, shares made in front of a notary
- lost passports, share certificates or other documents
- marriage certificates and declarations of single status
- permission to let one parent travel with children
- apostille and legalisations at consulates
- certified copies of documents, certified by a notary
- any other documents for abroad, which require a notary stamp
For business clients:
- power of attorney witnessed by a notary public
- notarisation of company documents for setting up a branch office
- affidavits, statutory declarations, and sworn statements
- share issues certified by a notary public
- property transactions, transfers, purchases, sales, gifts etc.
- assignments or registration of trade marks
- apostille and legalisation service
- any other documents for abroad, which require a notary stamp
What is a Notary?
A Notary, or Notary Public or Public Notary (the terms all mean the same thing), is a lawyer. The concept of a notary public has its origins in Roman law, when notaries were charged with recording important events and contracts in writing. Even today, the notary is at the summit of the legal profession in those countries whose legal systems are based on the Civil Code, which includes nearly all members of the European Union and nearly all of Central and South America.
Notaries public have this position because they are trusted to record events accurately and faithfully. Their duty is not simply to their client, but one of simple recording of the truth. Notaries are deemed to be the ultimate witness.
In common law countries, such as England, the United States, Canada, Australia, India and New Zealand, Public Notaries have a less exalted position. However they come into their own when documents signed or created in England, for example, need ultimately to be used in another country. Then it is often essential to have recourse to a notary.
Why would I need a notary?
You may need a notary public for many things, such as selling or buying a house abroad, opening a foreign bank account, giving a power of attorney, certified copies of documents such as examination certificates, opening a branch office of your company or business abroad, getting translations of documents certified, if you marry abroad and so on.
The need for a notary public is dictated by the requirements of the country where the document is to be used. For example, if you are not in Spain, but wish to buy a property there, it is usually necessary to give your lawyer there power to deal with the purchase and registration of your ownership.
This is done by means of a power of attorney, which is signed by you, the purchaser, in front of a notary. You cannot sign it in front of anyone else, and the text must be in Spanish. The notary public will confirm your name and identity and sign the document and seal it with his or her official seal. Often, an apostille is needed to vertify the signature and seal of the notary.
The document then will usually need to be further authenticated by having the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirm the validity of the notary’s signature and seal. This is done by legalisation or authentication by the use of the FCO’s official certificate attached to the back of the document, known as an apostille. These are internationally recognised due to the Hague Convention.
What does legalisation or authentication of a document mean?
Legalisation or authentication means confirmation of the authenticity of origin of a document. It is usually done by having an official stamp placed on the document by the consulate of the country in which the document is to be used.
The idea is best explained by example. If you have a contract you are signing in England which concerns delivery of goods or services to another country – that other country’s laws may require that the contract is legalised. Usually, this will mean that the contract not only has to be signed in front of the notary, but that the consulate of the country concerned also has to stamp the document. Sometimes there are additional stamps to be obtained. All this is part of the process of legalisation. Effectively, the purpose of all the stamping is to prove that the document was validly signed.
To cut down bureaucracy, many countries have signed the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents 1961. This removed the requirement for separate consular legalisation for those countries who have signed the treaty.
Under the treaty, a certificate known as an apostille in a prescribed form is issued by the competent authority of the state from which the document originates. In the United Kingdom, this is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FCO has a register of many persons’ signatures (such as notaries, solicitors and officials), and documents brought to it are checked against these registers so that it can confirm the signature is genuine.
However legalisation by the consulate stills remains the rule in many cases for countries outside the Hague Convention, and such countries may ask for Foreign Office authentication and legalisation by their consulate.
What is an apostille?
An apostille is a certificate issued (in the U.K.) by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). It confirms that a document was signed by the person whose signature is on the document. Often this is the signature of a notary, but the FCO also has other signatures registered with it, such as those of some solicitors and officials such as Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages (if this was in the UK). Each document carries its own apostille and these cost £30.00 0r £75 each depending on the speed of service . For more information see “What does legalisation or authentication of a document mean”.
I need documents translated. Can you help?
We are happy to put you in touch with translators if required. Please contact us on 0207 499 2605 or by emailing to
For some reason, call it a weakness, I am interested in notaries, can you tell me more?
The notarial profession in England is one divided into three categories.
Ecclesiastical notaries -They record important Church events, such as the consecration of churchyards and the election of bishops. Important though they are for the church, they have no other function.
General notaries – The vast majority of the 900 or so notaries in England and Wales are general notaries. They are nearly always solicitors.
Scrivener notaries – Until very recently, the only notaries who could practise in the City of London, or within a three mile radius of its walls, were notaries who were members of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners, a medieval City guild. Their monopoly was ended by intense lobbying over a period of time by London general notaries, who thought the monopoly completely unjustified. The founder of this firm, Mark Kober-Smith, wrote a book about the process and on how to persuade governments to act.
What are the legalisation requirements for the various countries in the world?
Please click here for a list.