FAQ

Where are you based?

Notary Public in Wigan:  I practise at Hall Lane, Aspull, Wigan WN2 2SF.

Notary Public in Bolton: I shall no longer be offering appointments at a Bolton town centre office on Wednesday mornings from 12th September 2019.

Appointments are strictly by prior arrangement only.

When are you open?

My usual hours of work are Monday-Thursday, 10am-2.30pm during school term times.

If I am unable to take your telephone call, please do leave a detailed message or, preferably contact me by email with a copy of the document, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

What Identification Documents Do I Need to Bring – Individuals?

As a Notary, I will need to verify the identity of the signatories to a document and the person/company who is instructing me.

If the document which requires notarising, mentions a document, it is likely that I will need to see the original of that document.

Otherwise, I usually require sight of:

  1. An original, current passport or original current driving licence with a photograph and
  2. A bank statement or utility bill (no older than 3 months old), which shows your name and address

Other forms of identification can sometimes be acceptable. Please contact me to discuss.

What Identification Documents Do I Need to Bring – Company clients?

Each person who is signing on behalf of the company must provide documents as proof of personal identification in accordance with the above. They must also prove their capacity to sign (i.e. produce proof of what authorises them to sign), for example a Resolution of Directors or Members.

In order to prove the identity of a company, it can provide:

  • proof of its registration with a regulatory body (for example, the FSA, Pensions Regulator, or Charity Commission)
  • entry on the company register at Companies House. I perform this check personally using https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/
  • the certificate of incorporation issued to the company when it was registered with Companies House
  • latest financial reports and audited account

Do you need to see the documents before an appointment?

I ask that you send a copy of the document that requires notarisation to me by email, before any meeting. If you have covering instructions (for example, from your foreign lawyers or advisers), please also supply them prior to the meeting.

As well as allowing me to provide an accurate quotation or estimate of costs and disbursements, this can also allow amendments/additions to be made and queries raised prior to the meeting. This can prevent wasted time and expense.

Do I need to bring my own witnesses?

Depending on the document that you need to sign, you might require witnesses in addition to me as the Notary. This is often the case, but is not limited to, American documents.

I am not usually able to supply additional witnesses and, in certain circumstances, I will therefore require that you bring your own independent (non-family members) with you. We can discuss this once I have reviewed the requirements when you send documents to me by email.

What is an apostille?

An apostille is a certificate issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It confirms that the signature and seal of the Notary Public is genuine.

Certain countries and jurisdictions require an apostille to be affixed to a notarised document before it is accepted in that country.

For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised

I can assist with an application for an apostille if required.

Which countries require an apostille?

I strongly advise that you check with your intended recipient whether an apostille is required. Not only do requirements vary from country to country, different organisations within a country might have different stipulations before a document is accepted.

Certain jurisdictions are members of the Hague Convention on Apostilles and this, generally speaking means they will accept documents with an apostille without need for further Embassy/Consular Legalization. The list of members changes from time to time. Please see https://www.hcch.net/en/states/hcch-members for a current list.

If a country is not a Member, they will often require an apostille and embassy / consular legalisation.

Some countries, including some commonwealth and former commonwealth countries, will accept a document which has been authenticated by a Notary Public in England and Wales without the need for an apostille or embassy / consular legalisation.

Embassy/ Consular Legalisation

Some countries require further verification, from their own consular department or Embassy here in the UK, (in additional to an apostille) known as legalisation. This further verifies the authenticity of the document.

The requirements, charges and time scales for legalisation vary considerably from country to country. I can assist with the legalisation documents, often by instructing an experienced legalisation agent, if required.

How do I obtain certified copies of qualification certificates (e.g. degree, PhD, TEFL etc)?

The receiving jurisdiction will usually expect a Notary Public to verify the award when provide the notarial certificated.

Usually, I will require direct confirmation of the award from the awarding body before I can issue the certified copy of the award. Please contact me to discuss how this can be obtained.

How do I obtain certified copies of birth, marriage or death certificates?

These can be ordered directly from the General Registry Office (see http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/ ) .

The Foreign and Commonwealth will usually affix an apostille directly to a birth, death or marriage certificate without the need for a notarial certificate. You can apply for an apostille personally or I can assist if you would prefer.

Some countries will insist that a notarial certificate is attached to a birth, death or marriage certificate. I am prohibited, under Crown Copyright laws, from photocopying these official certificates and must therefore personally apply for a new copy from the GRO, at your cost, before I can prepared the required certificate.

Can I obtain a certified copy, with an apostille, of a Disclosure Scotland Basic Disclosure Certificate?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will only affix an apostille to the original certificate (and not to a certified copy). The FCO will require a Notarial Certificate unless the document bears the signature and stamp of Disclosure Scotland.

In order to avoid the need for a notarial certificate, and therefore save on costs, please request that the Certificate is stamped and signed when applying for it. Alternatively, once the Certificate has been issued, it can be returned for a stamp and signature free of charge. Please see https://www.mygov.scot/get-disclosure-verified/

What if my document is in a foreign language?

It is imperative that I understand the document which I am being asked to notarise. If it is in a language other than English, I am likely to insist on the document being translated by an independent, professionally qualified translator. I am able to obtain a quotation for translations upon request.

If you do not wish to have the document translated from a foreign language to English, an alternative (if it is acceptable to the recipient) would be to sign and notarise an English version of the document only. It could then be translated in the receiving country.

Other alternatives would be to seek the assistance of a Notary Public who is sufficiently fluent in the language in question (please see https://www.thenotariessociety.org.uk ) or to speak to the embassy/consular department of that country to see whether they can assist.

What if I don’t speak or understand English?

I must be able to converse fluently with any one who is to sign a document which requires my notarial certificate, authentication etc. This in part is to check their capacity to sign, their understanding and their willingness/intent to sign, as well as their identity.

I only speak English. If you do not speak or understand English sufficiently for these purposes, I will need to insist on the involvement of an independent, professionally qualified interpreter.

Other alternatives would be to seek the assistance of a Notary Public who is sufficiently fluent in the language in question (please see https://www.thenotariessociety.org.uk ) or to speak to the embassy/consular department of that country to see whether they can assist.

Can a solicitor act instead of a notary?

Foreign countries and foreign jurisdictions usually insist upon a Notary Public rather than a solicitor when it comes to authenticating or certifying documents for use abroad. The signature and seal of a Notary Public qualified in England and Wales is usually internationally recognised. The same does not apply to that of a UK solicitor. You should check the position with your intended recipient.

Notaries Public are often also solicitors (but I am not). Generally speaking, if your document is to be used abroad you, you will need a notary. If your document is to be used in the UK, a solicitor will usually be able to act.

Can you witness oaths / affidavits / statutory declarations?

I am a Commissioner for Oaths as well as a Notary Public which means that I can administer and witness oaths/affidavits.

If you require an oath, affidavit or declaration for use in the UK only though, it is often more cost effective for you to see a solicitor and this is not a service that I usually offer.

If the affidavit, declaration or oath is to be used abroad, I can usually assist in my capacity as a Notary Public.

Can you post documents abroad?

I am happy to instruct legalisation agents and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to post your completed documentation abroad but please note that this is done at your risk only. I do not personally arrange courier services.

Unless otherwise arranged, I usually use Royal Mail Special Delivery for post within the UK.

What is a notary’s seal?

Every notary public in England and Wales must have their own seal (which usually contains their name, the words “Notary Public” and a design of their choosing) which they must apply to every notarial act they undertake. This seal, along with the notary’s signature, is recognised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and international embassies.

How much will it cost?

My costs vary depending upon a number of factors including the number of documents, type of documents, their length, the intended destination and the number of signatories to it. I therefore ask that you email your requirements, along with a copy of the document, before an appointment so that I can provide you with an accurate no obligation estimate or quotation.

As well as my costs, there will sometimes be disbursements due to third parties which include Foreign and Commonwealth fees, couriers, legalisation agent fees, international postage, translators etc.

Payment is due during our meeting.

Why do Notaries in England and Wales charge more than US Notaries?

It is my understanding that Notaries in the USA are lay people rather than qualified lawyers. There are many of them and competition is fierce. Notarial services in the USA are very cheap or even free, offered as a benefit by banks and similar organisations,

By contrast, there are only around 770 Notaries Public in England and Wales. Newly qualified Notaries in England and Wales are qualified lawyers who undergo a rigorous two year course with University College London, in addition to their degree (usually in Law). They are often practising or non-practising solicitors or barristers. We are regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and are bound by professional rules. We have to ensure that our knowledge is kept up to date by attending Continuing Professional Development courses. We can only practise if we have a valid Practising Certificate and we must carry Professional Indemnity Insurance (to a minimum of £1 million) and Fidelity Insurance. We are internationally trusted to certify, and often verify or authenticate documents, facts and identities. We are bound by UK and international laws on money laundering, proceeds of crime and the like. We must keep records of every notarial act we undertake, including copies of certain documents on a permanent basis.

Do you have professional indemnity insurance?

I maintain professional indemnity insurance in the sum of £1 million.

Are you regulated?

I am regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for a no obligation quote or estimate of fees.