Notary public

Why (or when) someone would need this service?

If you need to sign a legal document or have a document authenticated or certified for abroad. For example:

  • Powers of attorney for abroad
  • Sales or purchases of land abroad
  • Documents for the administration of estates of someone abroad
  • Foreign marriages, adoptions
  • Children travelling with only one parent or someone not a parent
  • Certifying documents for emigration purposes or to practise your job or profession abroad e.g. degree certificates

How does the process work/what are the steps?

You bring your document(s) and sign it/them in the presence of the notary who verifies your identity from your passport and your address (from bank statements, utility bills, driving licence etc) and the notary signs, stamps and seals, so that your document will be accepted abroad.

How long does it take?

The notary is available usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays and you can see her with an appointment which can usually be made even on the day. The typical appointment is between 20 minutes and half an hour.

You can take your document(s) away with you afterwards, unless the notary has to verify something with third parties (e.g. degree certificates with the university concerned) or send your document for legalisation (verification of the notary’s signature and seal by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by an apostille or by the consulate of the country concerned)

Is it expensive?

If there aren’t too many documents and it can be dealt with in under half an hour the charge is £100 (or £80 if it is very simple, one or two documents only and can be dealt with in under 20 minutes).

If there are a lot of documents, or verification from others is required or the notary has to prepare a document for you or send it for legalisation for you, the notary will tell you how much it will be.

What are the things people should consider before calling?

You need to make an appointment so the notary will be available and tell you what to bring, please do not attend our offices without a prior appontment and expect to be seen. Please contact us via email [email protected].

Tell the notary if the document is being signed for a company as checks may need to be done in advance of the company.

Don’t sign your document(s) in advance.

If there are any mistakes on the document, check what to do with whoever sent it to you, or if there is anything you don’t understand before you come.

If it is an Affidavit, check the lawyer has sent you all the exhibits (these are the documents that the Affidavit refers to in this way: “there is now produced to me and marked”...)

If you need a translation notarised, you need to tell the translator before you get it translated as they, not you, are the ones who need to bring the translation to a notary and they may want to use a notary convenient to them. If your document is not in English, check you understand it by asking the person who gave it to you for a translation.

UK births, marriages and death certificates cannot be copied and the copies certified by a notary. You need to get the official copies and use these. You can get extra copies from the General Registry Office online. https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate

Why are Grant Saw the best people for the job?

Joanna Godden is a specially trained lawyer who is a notary public. Not every solicitor is a notary public. Her signature and seal are on record with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and many consulates.

She also speaks Spanish and French and can deal with documents in these languages though cannot usually prepare legal documents in these languages.

Your document may also need additional witnesses and our office can provide this.

Notarial services are provided by Joanna Godden. As a Notary, Joanna is independent from Grant Saw Solicitors LLP. The work Joanna does as a Notary is treated as part of the Solicitor's practice for insurance but for no other purpose. 

Notary public tips

Once you have seen the notary, you can keep further costs down by dealing with the legalisation stage yourself. For the Foreign and Commonwealth Office/apostille: https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised

You can get your document signed at your consulate if you are not a UK citizen, but you may have to wait for an appointment. This may be cheaper.

Notary public myth busting

“All notaries charge the same”. Many charge per document, but we charge for the time it takes which seems fairer.

“You can use a justice of the peace” as well. This is not the case in England.

“The notary public can advise on foreign law”. In reality the notary public is only familiar with the formalities of signing legal documents in other countries (which are all different).