Notaries are qualified lawyers and in England are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They belong to the oldest branch of the legal profession tracing its origins to Roman times.
They are mainly concerned with the preparation and authentication of documents for use abroad and their signatures and seals are accepted and recognized as valid throughout the world. Most notaries outside the City of London are also solicitors.
Anyone involved in transactions involving international business, such as
- the formation of companies
- commercial transactions overseas
- dealing with foreign property
is likely to require the services of a notary who will upon proof of identity and having satisfied himself of their capacity and understanding verify or authenticate their signatures to documents and to certify their validity.
Many countries also require what is called an apostille to be fixed to a document. This is a certificate issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and attached to the document to confirm that the notary is in good standing.
Whenever you are faced with a foreign document, please remember that you will probably need the services of a notary and that the signature of a solicitor alone will not suffice