Finding a Notary Public can be like searching for a needle in a haystack

Our landed estates and farming team is very pleased to be able to offer notarial services via Solicitor, Louise Williams, who is also a fully qualified independent Notary Public. We are so pleased to be able to offer this as a service, as there are only approximately 770 Notary Publics practising across England and Wales and only a small minority of these work as part of a full-service law firm. 

When you need to see a notary public, there is normally some urgency, and finding one available in your locality can be a difficult task.

What is a Notary Public? 

A Notary Public is a public officer and a qualified legal professional who has the authority to authenticate and witness a wide range of legal documents and certify its legitimacy so that it can be used in another country. They deal with non-contentious legal matters including preparing and witnessing documents for use abroad and the services offered relate to all manner of transactions and documents including certifying identification documents, providing certified copies of documents, the buying and selling of foreign property, getting married in a foreign country, Powers of Attorney, foreign international business, deeds and estates. 

How is a Notary Public different from a Solicitor? 

Although a large number of Notary Publics are solicitors, Notary Publics are much less common within the legal sector. English and Welsh solicitors offer legal services for English and Welsh legal matters, whereas Notary Publics specialise in preparing and witnessing legal documentation for use in a foreign jurisdiction. Due to the specialist nature of their work, documents ‘notarised’ by a Notary Public are accepted, recognised and relied upon around the world. 

What is legalisation? 

After a Notary Public has authenticated or witnessed the relevant legal documents, the document may require an ‘Apostille’ or ‘further legalisation’ which is an additional means of authentication and it will depend on the country where the document is going to be used, to what will be required, as requirements differ between countries. This will ensure the document meets the legal requirements of the country in question. ‘Apostilles’ and ‘further legalisation’ are carried out by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, an embassy or a consulate and the relevant institution will check whether the Notary’s signature is genuine, and once confirmed, they will add a certificate to confirm authenticity. A Notary Public will be able to arrange to have this done, if it is required. 

When might I need a Notary Public? 

If you are an English or Welsh citizen and you have assets abroad, or need to manage personal affairs outside of England and Wales, you are likely to require the services of a Notary Public at some point, such as certification of your identity. In most circumstances, you will be told when you need to use a Notary Public, whether this is by a foreign government body, a foreign lawyer or another professional. This is because most English and Welsh documents will only be accepted for use abroad by foreign courts, authorities and professionals once they have been ‘notarised’, so that they are considered ‘authentic’ in the relevant country and they can reference the Notary Public’s signature and seal, as a public officer, for the purposes of verification. It may also be that a foreign document needs to be prepared or signed in front of a Notary Public to be effective. 

For example, if you were to buy a holiday home in Spain, the lawyer in Spain would no doubt ask you to have your identification documents ‘notarised’, as they would not recognise a certification by an English solicitor. They may also ask you to sign a power of attorney to enable them to sign and deal with matters relating to your holiday home on your behalf. This document would ordinarily come prepared in both Spanish and English, in two parallel columns. You would take this to a Notary Public, who would ensure the English deed formalities are also adhered to, amending the document if necessary. Once the document is ready to be executed, you would sign the power of attorney under both the languages in front of the Notary Public, who would then sign and affix their individual seal. This document would then be sent off to have an apostille added, to verify the Notary’s signature and seal, before being sent on to the recipient in Spain. Despite the number of places the document will travel to, notarial services are often fast paced and this process can sometimes be completed within a week or two. 

Who can use a Notary Public? 

A Notary Public can act for both of private individuals and businesses. 

I a Notary Public independent?

It is important to note that when a solicitor is acting in their capacity as a Notary, they do so as independent professionals, holding a public office granted and regulated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and governed by The Notaries Society, and the service they provide is provided direct to you and not by Moore Barlow LLP. Their individual Terms of Business for Notarial Services may be accessed on their personal profile on our website. 

How Moore Barlow can help

Our notary public solicitors can provide a range of services to help with your legal needs, including certifying documents, verifying signatures, and preparing legal documents for use abroad. Whether you need assistance with a family matter or require notarial services for business purposes, our team has the expertise and experience to ensure your documents are legally valid and compliant. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.