Many people will, at some point, need their signature to be witnessed whether this is for a passport or mortgage application or some other form of declaration. A witness to a signature is indispensable for evidentiary purposes. Should someone refute the claim that they signed a document the witness can be contacted to testify that they did, in fact, witness the person signing the document.
The process for witnessing a signature can vary depending on the nature of the document and the purpose it is being used for. The requirements for witnessing a signature for documents being used overseas are very specific.
Who Can Witness a Signature?
Documents being used for domestic purposes can often be witnessed by any neutral party. In certain cases, i.e. passport applications, this should be a person with a recognised good standing in society; namely a teacher, company director or an accountant. In many other cases, i.e. a deed poll, any neutral party can witness a signature providing they are contactable and there is no conflict of interest.
However, when a document that requires a witness is being presented internationally it is not sufficient for any neutral party to act as the witness. In these circumstances, the document should be signed in the presence of a UK solicitor or notary public.
We regularly hear from clients who have statutory declarations, powers of attorney or letters of authorisation that are intended to be presented to an overseas authority. Although these documents do first need to be witnessed by a UK solicitor or notary public there are some additional steps required before the documents are legally recognised.
Can We Witness Your Signature?
Quite simply, no. The practice of witnessing a signature necessitates the signatory signing the document in the physical presence of the witness. This cannot be achieved remotely as the witnessing person could not testify with absolute confidence that the signatory has signed a given document.
What Next After a Signature Has Been Witnessed?
If you are presenting the document to an overseas authority then the document will firstly need to be legalised. The process for legalising a document for international use involves the document being issued with the apostille. The apostille verifies that the witness is a recognised legal official in the country the document was executed. If the document is to be presented in a country that is outside of the apostille convention then this may also require embassy attestation.
We can provide the apostille service for any UK document and the embassy attestation, where required, in most cases.
Once you have had your signature witnessed you can order the apostille service online and then simply post your document to us. We complete most orders in just 1-2 working days.