Andrew Wright (email@example.com) and Amanda Custis (firstname.lastname@example.org), our two notaries, are based at our Orpington office. Due to the nature of the technical work they will be doing on your behalf, it is essential that whoever is signing the document comes in person and signs in the notary’s presence. Please do not sign your document before you come.
For key information about our notary services please take a look at the Key Information document on the right hand side of this page.
If you would like to make an appointment or to find out more information about how we can help, please contact our notarial assistant:
We offer a “drive through” service if you would prefer to remain in your car. You are welcome to park in our car park and the notary will come to your car window rather than seeing you in a meeting room. Please mention this in advance when making your appointment.
We will do our best to accommodate you at short notice whenever possible. Step free access is available from the car park at the back of our office, which you are welcome to use. There is usually space, but if required, we can reserve a space for you. If you have a particular difficulty which prevents you from getting to us, it may be possible for one of our notaries to visit you for an additional fee.
What does a notary do?
The main business of a notary is to verify the proper execution of documentation to be used abroad. Notarisation means the act by a notary of certifying a signature or issuing a certificate. When notaries sign and seal documents they are verifying the authenticity of the facts set out in the documents. Notaries have a duty to everyone who may rely on the documents and they have to be satisfied that they have verified all necessary facts or information before dealing with them. It is not sufficient for them simply to witness your signature.
Typical documents or notarial acts are:
- powers of attorney, affidavits, oaths and declarations
- documentation relating to the sale, purchase, transfer or verification of land, property or shares
- authentication of a passport or signature
- certified copy documents such as passports, company documentation and educational certificates
- documentation, marriage certificates and declarations of single status in connection with marriage overseas
- preparation of sponsorship forms for people visiting the UK
- permission to let one parent, or another person, travel with children
- witnessing and attesting signature of foreign wills
Your document may be in a foreign language. The notary must be satisfied that the meaning and effect is clear to you. Sometimes, a formal translation will be required.
A notary does not give advice on the meaning or effect of a document or transaction. It is important that you ask for advice and clarification in correspondence you receive with your document and that you bring this with you to your appointment.
It may be possible for us to prepare a document for you. However, our notaries are only familiar with the law in England and Wales and are not able to guarantee that a document will meet the requirements of a foreign jurisdiction.
Sometimes notaries will need to prepare a more formal document (notarial certificate) in order to attest to facts witnessed by or proved to them and attested under their signature and seal. If the notary prepares a document for you, there will be an additional charge.
We need clients to bring with them their proof of ID; typically a passport or photo driving licence and a recent utility bill confirming their home address. You should also bring any other means of ID which may be referred to in the papers sent to you as being required, such as a foreign identity card.
If the name on your document is different from the name you are currently using, we will usually need to see additional documents confirming the position; for example, a birth or marriage certificate or a change of name deed.
If a document is to be signed on behalf of a company, partnership, charity, club or other incorporated entity, we need to see evidence that the person signing is authorised to do so. Typically this will involve checking at Companies House and/or production of a letter of authority, board minute or power of attorney. For entities not registered at Companies House, we will need to see a copy of the relevant partnership agreement, trust deed or other form of charter/constitution.
Documents for use abroad
We ask clients to provide us with instructions and guidance from the lawyer or authorities who require the document and, if possible, to let us see a copy of the document to be notarised before the visit.
Legalisation or authentication means confirmation of the authenticity of a notarised document which may be required for some countries and documents. The consulate of the country in which the document is to be used will apply its official stamp after the document has been signed and sealed by the notary. Notaries have to provide consulates with specimens of their signatures and seals so that they can be compared to the documents to confirm that they are genuine.
In order to simplify the legalisation process, countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention have opted for a certificate known as an apostille. An apostille is issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK. It is attached to a document once it has been signed and sealed by a notary. The purpose of this is to authenticate the signature and seal of the notary, whose details are kept on the FCO’s register.
Countries which are not signatories to the Hague Convention may require consular legalisation in addition to FCO legalisation. A document must be sent to the FCO to be sealed prior to legalisation at the relevant consulate.
When taking instructions on the execution of your document, it is worth checking on the requirements for legalisation. Consular fees for legalisation vary and they need to be checked with the relevant consulate.