Graham Penn has acted as a Notary for many years and can offer practical legal advice based on real experience.

Notaries provide a wide range of services which are required in relation to documents, such as contracts, powers of attorney, affidavits or declarations which will be sent to other countries whose legal requirements are not the same as within the UK. Notaries can also provide certified copies of ID documents and educational or professional certificates.

Do I need a Notary? 

Frequently the answer may be “no”. If the document relates to a matter within the UK then it is almost certain that it will not need notarising. However the guidance note provided by the office requiring the document may make reference to a Notary as one of the possible officers who can verify the document. If the document refers also to a commissioner for oaths, then any solicitor can perform the verification process.

“Notarising” covers many things

Typical examples of “notarising” are :-

  • Certifying the signatures to documents;
  • Administering oaths and declarations;
  • Preparing or authenticating powers of attorney, corporate documents, or contracts;
  • Providing notarised copy documents;
  • Certifying the accuracy of translations (using a translator);
  • Verifying the authenticity of documents produced e.g. by Companies House or Government Depts.

The important point to note is that officials overseas are entitled to assume that a Notary will ensure compliance with the relevant requirement both in England and abroad, and that full reliance can be placed upon the documents once notarised. The Notary therefore has as much of a duty to anybody who may rely upon the document as to the client who asks for it to be notarised.

What is A Notary ?

The English Notary is, as a result, formally appointed by the Faculty of the Archbishop of Canterbury whereas a solicitor is an officer of the English Court. Many (but not all) Notaries are also solicitors. However, their practice as a Notary is entirely separate from their practice as a solicitor and is not regulated by the rules which govern solicitors.

What is the function of a Notary ?

Generally, the function of a Notary is to deal with (“notarise”) documents required for use in other countries, especially for companies who need to appoint representatives overseas to deal with their matters in a particular country, or for individuals in property matters, court cases, or dealing with the estates of relatives who have died whilst owning property in other countries.

The work of a Notary

In order to satisfy the requirements of the particular officials in any country, the Notary is required to verify the identity of the person appearing before him, their capacity and authority to act (if they are executing the document on behalf of a company), and the facts set out in the document. If being asked to provide certified documents the Notary must take steps to ensure that the documents provided are genuine. Whilst in many cases this is relatively straightforward, as in the case of documents available from Companies House, in others (e.g. in the case of University degrees, or other educational qualifications) steps would need to be taken by the Notary to verify their authenticity.

As the requirements in different countries vary enormously it is important to have as much detail as possible and any correspondence or instructions from parties in the particular country where the document is to be used. For example, some will accept certificates in English, but others will only accept documents that are translated into their own language; some will have dual language documents already drafted; and some will have the Notary’s certificate already incorporated, whilst others will require a separate certificate to be drafted and sewn to the original document. Accordingly, when a potential client says that they need a document “notarised”, there are many different possible interpretations and it is dangerous to assume that a particular form is required, only to find afterwards that something else was needed. It is therefore vital to ensure that both the parties and the Notary full understand precisely what form will be accepted in the particular transaction


If you would like to make an appointment you can email Graham at

Note: To save time please confirm what document is required, for which country and who will be signing it. If the document is only of a few pages and you can scan and send a copy with your email, that will be most helpful.