What a Notary Does
Many notaries provide a service for commercial firms engaged in international trade, and for private individuals. The most common tasks include:
- Preparing and authenticating powers of attorney for use overseas
- Dealing with purchase or sale of land and property abroad
- Authenticating foreign wills and providing documents to deal with the administration of the estates of people who are abroad, or owning property abroad
- Authenticating personal documents and information for immigration or emigration purposes, or to apply to marry or to work abroad, such as education or professional qualifications or declarations of freedom to marry
- Authenticating company and business documents and transactions or providing certificates as to the status of a company or the identity of its directors
What else can Notaries do?
Most notaries act in that capacity to provide the sort of services already described, but they can also provide authentication and a secure record for almost any sort of transaction, document or event.
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, the provision of immigration advice and services or taking cases to court. Approximately half of notaries are also solicitors and do their general legal work in that capacity. Others (including the Scrivener Notaries in London) practise only as notaries undertaking commercial and property work (including conveyancing) and family and private client work (including wills, probate and the administration of estates).
Paper or Electronic documents?
All notaries will produce notarial documents on paper and some notaries also provide notarial documents as electronic secure documents. Not all countries will accept electronic documents, but more and more are doing so. Notaries who offer electronic notarisation services can be found using the ‘Find a Notary’ search and then adding in the ‘electronic notarisation offered’ search filter. Electronic notarisation is the process of producing an electronic document – the question of whether that document can be signed by its maker through video links rather than going to the notary’s office in person is a separate issue and discussed below.
Can I have a document notarised without going to the notary’s office?
Some documents do not need to be signed in front of a notary, for instance, having your degree certificate verified and notarised. However, if your document needs to be signed by you before the notary it will usually mean that you will need to go to see the notary at their office. There are some countries that accept a notarial document which has been signed using video conference links, commonly referred to as remote online notarisation, and if you want to sign a document remotely then you should contact your notary to discuss what is permissible and your notary will explain if the document is capable of being signed remotely and whether it is likely to be accepted by the country where the document is going to be used.