Becoming a Notary
Qualification as a Notary
The following notes will provide some guidance about how to qualify as a notary. However for full details about the qualification course and procedure please contact The Faculty Office email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.facultyoffice.org.uk
Qualification as a notary is regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury under the direction of the Master of the Faculties. Details of the Faculty Office and all the Rules governing the qualification and admission of notaries can be found at their website www.facultyoffice.org.uk. The main regulations are contained in the Notaries (Qualification) Rules 2017.
These notes do not apply to notaries already qualified in jurisdictions outside England and Wales, including Scottish notaries and Northern Ireland notaries, who should refer to Rules 8 & 9 of the Notaries (Qualification) Rules 2017.
The main points to consider in the Notaries (Qualification) Rules 2017 before deciding whether to qualify as a notary are highlighted below. However, candidates should check ALL the various requirements and read the rules in full, not just those extracted and summarised below, before embarking on the qualification process.
1) Rule 3 - Qualification for Admission as a notary public.
No person shall be admitted as a notary public to practise in England and Wales unless such person:
3.1 Is at least 21 years of age and has satisfied the requirements of these rules
3.2 Has taken the oath of allegiance and the oath required by section 7 of the Public Notaries Act 1843; and
3.3 Is, except where such application is made under rule 4 (ecclesiastical notaries) or Rule 8 either a solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales, or a barrister at law, or a Chartered Legal Executive or holds a Degree.
2) Qualification is a 3 stage process comprising Academic training, Professional training and Admission.
a) The Academic stage
Rule 7 Practical Qualifications
7.1 Any person wishing to be admitted as a general notary under Rule 5 shall have undertaken and attained a satisfactory standard in a course or courses of studies covering all of the subjects listed in Schedule 2
Under Schedule 2 - Prescribed Subjects
Public & Constitutional Law; The Law of Property; The Law of Contract; The Law of the European Union; Equity and the Law of Trusts; Conveyancing; The Law and Practice of Companies and Partnership; Wills, Probate and Administration; Roman Law as an Introduction to Civil-Law Systems; Private International Law; Notarial Practice
The first 8 of the prescribed subjects form the Academic stage of the training. Applicants who have the following qualifications will normally be exempt from further study of most of the above subjects on the basis that they have already studied them to an acceptable standard. However, no exemptions will be given in the case of Roman Law as an Introduction to Civil-Law systems, Private International Law and Notarial Practice:
- Solicitors and barristers who have qualified within the last 5 years
- Holders of a law degree from an English or Welsh University awarded within the last 5 years
- Those who have successfully completed a GDL, LPC or SQE course within the last 5 years
Solicitors and barristers who qualified more than 5 years ago must be employed in general practice and have relevant experience to be given a full exemption. A fuller and more detailed explanation of the rules governing eligibility to qualify is available from the Faculty Office.
An application for exemption must be made directly to the Faculty Office email@example.com, from which the prescribed form can be obtained. Exemption can be given wholly or in part.
b) The Professional Stage - the Notarial Practice Course
This is essentially a two year distance learning course to be delivered by University College London. In the first year there are courses in Roman (Civil) Law and Private International Law and in the second year in Notarial Practice. Full details of the course will be available from UCL. Please note that applications can only be accepted from students who already have a certificate of exemption from the Faculty Office. The brochure can be found at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/continuing-professional-development/notarial-practice-course
c) Admission - Application for a Faculty and Admission to the Roll of Notaries
After the Notarial Practice Course has been passed successfully, applicants shall be required to attend a one day Office Practice Course and may then apply to the Faculty Office for admission to the Roll of Notaries by completing and submitting their formal application to the Master with a Certificate of Fitness and a Certificate of Good Character. (Rule 9, Notaries (Qualification) Rules 2017).
Solicitor applicants should note that the Registrar of the Faculty Office will take up references, on behalf of the Master, with the Solicitors Regulation Authority when formal application to the Master is made. In the case of other applicants references will be sought from any relevant professional body.
Candidates should be aware at the outset that the Master of the Faculties requires that all newly appointed notaries shall, for the first two years after their appointment, have their practice as a notary supervised by another notary and in the case of those practising Conveyancing or Probate as a Notary this supervision period will be for three years. Candidates should, therefore, arrange the services of a Supervisor (who must have been in actual practice as a notary for not less than five years) before making formal application for admission. In addition, it is also required that, during the period of supervision, a new notary shall attend compulsory day courses or seminars on Notarial Practice. There may be other requirements for individual candidates.
The Notaries Society does not govern the rules nor control the entry of notaries to the profession. It is pleased to advise generally. All specific queries concerning qualification or entry to the Notarial Practice Course must be made directly to the Faculty Office.
This outline has been designed to assist those interested in qualifying and as such gives general information. All candidates are advised to check that they meet all the necessary criteria as laid down in the Rules governing qualification and admission to the profession before making an application.
Copies of the Rules and other information about qualification may be found on the Faculty Office website: http://www.facultyoffice.org.uk/notary/i-am-a-notary/notaries-rules-regulations/
Open Day for Prospective Notaries
There is an Open Day run each year at UCL in London. The course is designed to introduce prospective notaries to the notarial profession, and to explain the process of qualification. The next course will be hosted by UCL in the Autumn 2024. For more information see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/continuing-professional-development/notarial-practice-course
A video of the Open Day held on 27th November 2021 is available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/study/continuing-professional-development/notarial-practice-course.
Please note the Guides below were drafted before the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, so references in the Guides to GDL and LPC include reference to SQE.