document notarisation

Is Notarisation the Same as Legalisation?

In the service of legalising documents by apostille we sometimes hear people refer to the service as notarisation. This is often a simple mistake and customers simply need an apostille so that their documents are legalised for use in another country.

Legalisation of a document is the issue of an apostille so that the document may be used in an official capacity in another country. Once a document has the apostille, it has been ‘legalised’ for use in an overseas country that is a member of the Hague Convention.

Notarisation refers to a Notary Public signing a document. A Notary is a solicitor that has taken a further qualifications. When they sign a document it is then deemed to be ‘notarised’.

Do you need to see a notary public?

A large number of documents can be issued with the apostille without a lawyer, solicitor or notary signing them. For example, birth, marriage and death certificates do not need to be signed by a solicitor. Do not waste any money getting these documents signed.

Whilst many documents that are issued with the apostille have been ‘notarised’ before the document is legalised it is not always necessary.

The majority of documents that do need to be signed can simply be signed by a solicitor. There are a few exceptions where a Notary Public must sign the documents and a solicitor’s signature will not be sufficient. This is normally when a notary witnesses the signature of another individual. For example, many powers of attorney are signed by a notary public and some overseas lawyers in some countries insist on this (e.g. Spain, USA).

If the document you need legalising clearly refers to a Notary Public signing the document then you will need to find a local notary for assistance. We cannot notarise documents as a notary will need to meet you personally.

When a notary signs a document, they should also add their embossing stamp. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this is essential when obtaining an apostille. Scottish notaries do not have to stamp documents, but many do.

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