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Certifying Qualifications

March 25, 2015

I do not know to what extent notarial work is seasonal, but as the year changes, it does seem that there are more requests to “notarise”, “legalise” or simply “stamp” various school, college or professional qualification certificates. The variety of phraseology simply reflects the sometimes vague instructions that the potential applicants are given by the various bodies overseas. Logically the winter months are the time when candidates for overseas colleges are trying to complete applications for their respective courses, to start in the coming autumn, and quite possibly the cold weather provides sufficient incentive for professionals to think it might be nice to move permanently and take their qualifications to sunnier climes.

In any event in the last few weeks I have had several requests to certify copies of such documents which will take the applicants to places such as the U.A.E, Florida and Australia. It should all be relatively straightforward and the Notary can surely just “stick” their seal, stamp or whatever on the copy certificate and off it goes? Well actually, no.

Sometimes I fear that the applicants feel that I am being unduly “picky” and just making life unduly complicated, but unfortunately, experience has shown Notaries that there are bogus “qualifications” in circulation and as the receiving college or authority is entitled to rely on the notarial certificate, then a Notary must do all he can to verify that the certificates presented are authentic.

The only means to do that is to seek verification from the respective establishments that they did indeed issue the certificate in question. That used to be relatively easy and a telephone call to ask the question would usually achieve the required confirmation. However in keeping with the Data Protection legislation, the establishments will now (quite rightly) decline any information without the applicant’s consent to disclose.

The answer is that ideally, the applicant will scan to me copies of the certificate(s) and contact the colleges in advance to authorise them to disclose details to me. I can then forward a copy by email to the college and simply ask “is it authentic? “. Usually they answer fairly quickly and we can proceed.

Apart from the speed of response, the other advantage of this approach is that it does keep the cost down rather than have the Notary making calls, or emailing the establishments “cold”. It can still be a major task for the applicant – a recent application for a nurse going to Australia required seven certificates to be authenticated from three different establishments – but it is still the most effective way.

As yet I have not had a client disappear when made aware of the requirement to have certificates authenticated, but I do know of Notaries who have.

The other phenomenon of the client who leaves it all until the last minute and then needs an appointment “today” has not yet arisen this year. It is only a question of time before it does! I don’t know whether that is another symptom of the applicant not really being sure as to what is required by “notarising”, but it can prove damaging in the extreme to their chances.

This article is provided for general information only. Please do not make any decision on the basis of this article alone without taking specific advice from us. stevensdrake will only be responsible for the advice we give which is specific to you.

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