Preparation for Meeting with a Notary

One of the tasks which a notary has to undertake is to satisfy himself that the person appearing before him is who he or she says they are. The prime reason for this is to avoid fraud.

For instance, if someone wishes to take control of a relative’s assets overseas without the consent of the owner, they will wish to obtain a Power of Attorney granted (ostensibly) by the owner. As it is unlikely that the owner would willingly grant the Power, the criminal needs to produce a document by fraudulent means.

The easiest way to do this would be to persuade a third party to pretend to be the owner in order to grant the Power before a notary.

That is why it is so important for any notary to ensure that the person he is meeting is who they say they are. For that reason a notary will undertake robust checks to deal with identity. These usually consist of examination of photo evidence and a proof of address. Sometimes additional checks will be undertaken, especially if the notary has reason to be suspicious.


Required Documents

As a consequence when you go to meet the notary you will be asked to bring along either a current passport (which can be one issued by any country) or a UK driving licence. A few other photo ID documents may be permissible if you do not hold a current passport or driving licence, but that will be at the discretion of the notary.

You will also be asked to produce proof of your United Kingdom home address. This must be either a bank statement (not a credit card bill) or a utility bill, from your gas, electricity or water company, or a council tax bill. The document you use must show your name and current UK home address. It must also be dated no more than three months prior to your notary appointment.

These days most people receive bills and bank statements electronically, and so do not have paper copies sent to them. In that case it is acceptable for you to print off the bill or statement from your computer, and bring that with you.

If for any reason the documents set out above are not available to you, discuss the issue with your notary, who will be able to advise on other means of proving your identity and address.

In some cases a person will need a document notarised which shows a name which they no longer use, or for some reason is different to that showing on their proofs of identity or address. It will be necessary to produce evidence of how and why the name is different. Typically this will be a marriage certificate or a Change of Name deed. You should bring the original to your meeting with the notary.

It is equally important that you bring the originals of any documents which are to be notarised. Copies will rarely work, unless there is a good reason that you cannot access the originals. Again, if that is the case you should discuss it in advance with your notary.

If you are seeing a notary to deal with a Consent to Travel of one or more of your children you will need to bring their passports too, so the notary can check the details against what is to be recorded in the Consent.


How long will the meeting take?

The meeting itself is likely to last anytime between 10 minutes and an hour, depending upon how many documents have to be notarised, and what type of notarial certificate is required. Occasionally the meeting may take even longer, but most commonly you will be with the notary for about 20 minutes.

That does not mean that the notary only has to spend that amount of time on the work. Before you arrive he is likely to have taken some time to consider what is required and prepare the necessary notarial certificate, and after you have left he will spend time preparing the detailed records he is required to keep on each notarisation. Those records must be retained in perpetuity, as the notary may be required to produce them to certain authorities at some time in the near or distant future.

Before the notary can provide you with a detailed quotation for his work, he will need to know whether or not the documents to be notarised must also be legalised. That is the process whereby the notarised document is checked and stamped by either the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) alone or by the FCDO and the embassy of the country to which the document is to be sent.

It is therefore important that you check with your overseas lawyer or the person or body requesting the notarised document, who should be able to tell you whether legalisation is needed. If it is, the notary can handle he process for you.