Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the questions we are most frequently asked. Please click on a question to see the answer.
- What does Notarisation mean?
- What documents do you notarise?
- How much will it cost?
- Is there any difference between a notary and a solicitor?
- Do I need to see a notary for affidavits, statutory declarations and oaths?
- Is an English notary in any way different from a notary overseas?
- Do I need to sign in the presence of a notary?
- Do I need an appointment?
- Can you come to my office or home?
- What documents do I need to bring to the notary office?
- What types of personal identity documents are acceptable?
- How long will it take for the documents to be ready?
What does Notarisation mean?
The purpose of notarisation is the authentication of legal documents by a notary. This is usually required to enable a particular document to be effective abroad and to be accepted as a valid legal document by foreign courts, notaries, registries or other public bodies. Notarisation confirms that all legal formalities for the execution of a document have been complied with.
The form of notarisation varies according to the document and the country where it is to be used. The notary certifies the genuineness of the signatures on the document, the identity and capacity of the persons signing and, eventually, their authority to act on behalf of the company or entity they are signing for. A notary may also certify that it is a true copy of an original document or that the document is correctly executed in accordance with English law. A notarised document must always have the notary’s signature and official seal.
What documents do you notarise?
Greenfield Notary offers a full range of notarial services. We notarise documents for use in all countries around the world, sometimes in bilingual format. Please see the Notarisation section on our Services page for further information. You can also call 020 76 920 838 or 020 70 960 905, or send an email to email@example.com to enquire about the particular document you need.
How much will it cost?
The fee for notarisation will depend on the document being certified and exactly what the notary is required to do. The fee will reflect the time necessary to complete the job, the complexity of the matter and the level of responsibility assumed by the notary.
The notary will be happy to discuss the costs with you prior to your appointment. Please note it will often be necessary to see the document in advance in order to provide an accurate fee estimate. To obtain a quote, please call 020 76 920 838 or 020 70 960 905, or send an enquiry by email to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your particular requirements.
Is there any difference between a notary and a solicitor?
Yes, these are two distinct legal professions.
Solicitors form by far the largest part of the legal profession in England and Wales, providing advice and representation to their clients in various areas of law, whether civil or criminal, contentious or non-contentious, national or international.
Notaries, on the other hand, form a small, highly specialised branch of the legal profession, whose main area of specialisation is the preparation and certification of documents so that they may be recognised as legally valid and effective in another country.
A solicitor is not trained to certify documents intended for use outside England and Wales – this is the role of a notary. One notable difference between a notary and a solicitor is that whereas a solicitor's primary duty is to his client, the notary owes duty of care to all persons worldwide who may place legitimate reliance on his notarial acts. This is a serious responsibility, which means that a notary must always be independent and impartial when certifying a document to ensure strict compliance with legal requirements. A notary’s act is accepted as an accurate statement of the facts stated in it and for this reason it can be relied upon all over the world.
Do I need to see a notary for affidavits, statutory declarations and oaths?
Yes. Affidavits, statutory declarations and oaths of all types for use outside England and Wales should be attested by a notary. Our notary services also include attesting affidavits, statutory declarations and oaths where the documents are to be used within England and Wales but it would be advisable to check if the services of a solicitor might be cheaper in such cases.
Is an English notary in any way different from a notary overseas?
Although all notaries authenticate documents, there are differences between the role of English notaries and that of civil law notaries and US notaries:
Notaries are an integral part of the legal system in civil law jurisdictions, such as most of continental Europe and South America. In those countries, a notary is required for the preparation and authentication of a great number and variety of legal documents and a notary in such countries would deal primarily with documents for use within his own jurisdiction.
In the US, by contrast, being a notary is not a profession and US notaries are usually neither required to have any legal qualifications, nor to maintain indemnity insurance cover. US notaries most often certify documents for routine matters by simply signing and stamping a pre-printed form. As becoming a notary is very easy and there are very few rules to comply with, fees are very low. Clients sometimes ask if ‘US notaries’ are available in the UK: apart from their equivalents at the US Consulate, who will notarise documents for US citizens only, the answer is ‘no’, but a UK notary is the appropriate person to certify documents for use in the US.
Do I need to sign in the presence of a notary?
In most cases, yes. The first time we notarise a client’s signature on a document, our notary must meet the signatory in person, identify them by means of their identity documents and witness their signature.
It is particularly necessary that the document should be executed in the presence of the notary where this is required either by English law or by the applicable foreign law for the formal validity of the document. Affidavits, statutory declarations and certain public form powers of attorney must always be signed in the presence of the notary. It is often clear on the face of the document when the notary must be present, for example by the inclusion of the words “Before me”.
In some cases where the notary does not need to state expressly that the document has been signed before him/her, and we already have a record of the signature on file, the documents may be sent to our office and the notary may certify the genuineness of a signature without witnessing it.
Do I need an appointment?
Yes. Although we are sometimes able to accommodate walk-in clients, it is preferable to book an appointment in advance to make sure the notary will be available to see you. This also allows us to ensure we have all necessary documents in advance, so the appointment is as brief as possible.
To make an appointment call 020 76 920 838 or 020 70 960 905, or send an enquiry by email to email@example.com, so we can fix a suitable time for you to attend at our office.
Can you come to my office or home?
Yes, in most cases the notary will be able to attend clients’ offices. An attendance fee will be charged and this will depend upon the location and duration of the appointment.
Notarial appointments can also take place at the client’s home, at a hospital or another location – please firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to suit your requirements.
What documents do I need to bring to the notary office?
If you are signing a document and we do not have details of you and your signature in our records, in addition to the document to be notarised you need to bring proof of your personal identity.
If you are signing a document on behalf of a company or organisation, we will also need to see evidence of the organisation's existence and of your authority to sign on its behalf - for example, power of attorney or board resolution.
What types of personal identity documents are acceptable?
In accordance with the Notaries Practice Rules 2019, anti-money laundering regulations and other applicable legal requirements, we are obliged to keep sufficient evidence on our files of the identity and the address of all our clients before we undertake any work.
For this reason, the first time a person uses the services of Greenfield Notary, we will need to see a photo ID and a document showing the client’s current address. We will need to take copies but any details we keep will remain fully confidential and will not be used for any other purposes. Our notary practice is registered as a data controller under the Data Protection Act 2018.
Please note that you must show us original documents that have not expired.
Here are some examples of personal ID documents:
- National Identity Card
- Driving Licence (with photograph)
- Some official licences and cards, such as armed forces ID cards (with photo and signature).
Proof of address can be one of the following original documents:
- Bank statement or letter (but not credit card statement) dated within the last 3 months
- Utility bill dated within the last 3 months (which should not be mobile phone bill, but can be a printout of an online statement with address)
- Other document like council tax bill or statement, or letter from the electoral register
When we are instructed by a corporate client, we need to see evidence of the due incorporation of the company or entity. This can be one of the following documents:
- Recent extract from the company register (which our notary can obtain directly for UK and some foreign registers)
- Certificate of good standing dated within the last 3 months
- Certificate of incorporation (if recently incorporated)
- Up to date certified copy of partnership agreement
- Evidence of being regulated by a regulatory body such as the Law Society or FSA.
Please note that in addition to the evidence of the due incorporation of the company, each individual signatory will need to bring one of the personal identification documents mentioned above.
If these documents have already been shown to the notary once, it will not be necessary to produce them again until they expire.
If you have any queries about providing suitable proof of identity and residential address, please call 020 76 920 838 or 020 70 960 905, or contact us at email@example.com.
How long will it take for the documents to be ready?
For the vast majority of straightforward matters and if legalisation is not required, we aim to complete the job and issue the notarial certificate either during the appointment in our notary office or, if you are not attending, to complete and return the documents within the same day. However, when the matters are more complicated or we need to be provided with supporting documents, we will aim to let you know at the outset how long the matter should take. Documents that need to be legalised will take longer, although we aim to have commercial documents notarised and apostilled on the same day if we receive them early enough.