Here is a broad guide to the stages, functions & practice that as Notary I need to follow. Of course, each case will be different but usually I will need the following for an appointment:
- Each document which will require my seal and signature. Please do not sign any document beforehand. Everything needs to be done in my presence.
- If you have received a document electronically it would be helpful if you could forward it to me by email in advance of the appointment. Please check the document carefully for any errors in your name, address or passport number and the address of any properties referred to in the document. If I have received the document electronically in Word format I should be able to make any necessary amendments to it prior to the appointment.
- Confirmation of where the document is to be used. This will enable me to advise on any legalisation requirements of the receiving jurisdiction and to decide on the form that the notarial certificate will need to take.
- Any instructions which have been given by the person who has prepared the document. There are sometimes specific requirements about signing each page or the colour of the ink to be used. Also, there may be specific issues about legalisation.
- Your passport or if you have no passport a government issued document which bears your photograph such as a photo-card driving licence together with current evidence showing where you live such as a recent utility bill or bank statement. I will need to see the original documents, copies will not suffice. If you have difficulty producing original documents I will need to discuss with you what evidence of identity will be sufficient to enable me to satisfy myself as to your identity.
- Your contact details
- In the case of a Company document to be signed by a person on its behalf I will need to establish that the Company exists and will normally need to see satisfactory evidence of the Company’s decision to execute the document and the authority of the signatory to sign it on behalf of the Company. I will conduct my own checks at Companies House but may need to ask you for supplementary evidence.
How long will the appointment take?
If the document is straightforward, already prepared and in the correct form the I am likely to need to see you for a minimum of 20 minutes and complete it in half an hour. Obviously it takes longer if the document is not straightforward, or if I have to draw up the document or make a paper copy.
What about Legalisation?
If a document needs to be legalised by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and you wish me to arrange this I will retain it and forward it by post to the FCO which will normally return it to me within a week. I will then advise you by telephone when it has been received back and it can either be collected from me or posted (at your risk) to you.
Some foreign jurisdictions require documents executed by a notary to be authenticated by their own Embassy or Consulate (sometimes in addition to legalisation by the FCO) and this can take several days unless you wish to take them to the Embassy or Consulate in question. In cases of urgency I can arrange for appropriate legalisation to be carried out on an expedited basis by an agent previously used by me on many occasions with whom I have good contact; I can also arrange for documentation to be couriered (and tracked) to a destination but would need the full address of the person to whom it is to be sent and his/her telephone number.
I am generally available in my office by arrangement on most days of the week 9 am – 5 pm. I appreciate that on occasions notarial work is urgent and I am happy to fix appointments at short notice and outside office hours, subject to availability.