(Frequently Asked Questions)

Who can witness this document for abroad?

Many people (and many UK and foreign solicitors) are not sure about this. The answer is: a Notary Public.
Documents will not be acceptable abroad (or in foreign embassies or consulates in England) if witnessed by a solicitor (or anyone else, such as your doctor, bank manager).
Documents are only valid abroad if signed or witnessed by a Notary. This is also true for Commonwealth countries or countries under British protection.
Confusion arises when documents coming from English-speaking countries say they need witnessing by a 'solicitor' or a 'commissioner for oaths'. This means a local solicitor or commissioner, but if the document is signed here your signature must be witnessed by a Notary.

Can a solicitor witness?

We regularly see documents, which have been returned by foreign lawyers for signature again because they have been witnessed by a solicitor or someone else. Many lawyers abroad are unaware of the need for notarisation.

Notary/Solicitor? What's the difference?

Most notaries in the UK are solicitors who have done additional training and two years supervised practice. There areabout 7140,000 solicitors in England & Wales. There are only about 750 Notaries.

What do notaries do? Do I need a notary?

There is no short answer to this. For a non-exhaustive list

Why do notaries cost more than the USA?

Good question! The main reasons are:
    1. In the USA, notaries are generally lay people. They require no qualifications and little or no training. According to           the American Society of Notaries, there are about 4.8 million notaries in the USA. In England and Wales there are              about 800.
    2. If you work in a bank or office in the US, your employer may encourage you to become a notary so you can                     offer notarial services free or for very little. In consequence, notarial services have become devalued.
    3. All notaries in England are qualified lawyers. They take their work seriously and charge appropriately. If you can             arrange an appointment, the US embassy in London charges US $50 per signature.

What should I bring when I see a notary?

1. Your passport - to prove your identity. If your passport bears your maiden name, bring your marriage certificate as well. If you have no passport, other acceptable means of identity include a driving licence photocard (we don't need the paper part), Birth certificates, marriage certificates, cheque books, National Insurance Cards, pension books or other documents bearing no name or signature are not acceptable as ID (but they may supplement some other ID bearing full name and signature).
2. Your proof of address. This means a recent household bill or bank statement showing your name and address. It should be less than 3 months old and sent to you in the post. A driving licence is proof of address only if issued within the last three months.
3. The documents you need to sign. This should have your name as it appears on your passport. Otherwise, any discrepancy should be explained in the document. Documents may have to be bound up for security and to prevent fraud.
You may have the document in Word format attached to an email. If so, it will help if you forward it to us .
4. Yourself. Notarisation means that a notary witnesses your signature. You must attend and sign in front of the Notary. (This may not apply for notarising copy educational qualifications or UK company documents). You can fill in forms, but don’t sign anything until you are with the Notary.
5. A translator / interpreter if the person signing does not read or speak English. The client must speak well enough to satisfy the Notary that they understand the nature and effect of the documents. Family members can interpret if they are not involved in the matter. Otherwise, interpreters should be independent.

How can I pay?

We can accept credit, debit or cash payments at our meeting. Corporate clients can pay by direct bank transfer if they wish.

How much will it cost?

There are many different types of document and so many countries with different requirements that it would be impossible to give a general list. If you explain what you require or what you have been asked to do, we will give you an estimate in advance. Some countries require more than one original of the same document. Bring with you any letter from your lawyer.

Can someone bring the document & my ID?

You go to a notary so that people abroad know that the documents have definitely been signed by you. You can't send someone else along with the document and your passport. This is because:
1. The notary has to watch you sign, and witness your signature.
2. For copy passports or other ID documents, we need to relate those to a real person.
3. We need to be sure that you want your passport or other ID copied. Someone else may have taken your passport to steal your identity, to order a credit card or open a bank account in your name.
4. You need to sign the copy of your passport or driving licence.

Can someone bring the document & my ID?


What is a notarised translation?

Generally, this is where the translator formally declares in front of the notary that the translation is true and correct. All parts of the document must be translated.
Clients may have a translation from an agency and they need it notarised. This can only be done if the translator is in front of the notary. This is not usually possible after the translation has been done because agencies often send papers abroad by email. The notary cannot therefore notarise the translation if the translator isn't here.
The translation can still be notarised if another person familiar with both languages goes to the notary to make the declaration. It doesn’t have to be the actual person who did the translation.

Can you visit me at my home or office?

Yes, we can. The notary will charge a fee for all time spent out of the office (including travelling time and taxi fares) in addition to the normal notary fees. A deposit will be required.

Do you have a seal?

Yes, I do.

© 2017 by Peter Mantell

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