What does a notarial certificate contain?
The notarial certificate is normally a document I prepare which is separate to the document you have signed, or a copy of document you have asked me to certify, etc. The notarial certificates contains details regarding what I have done as a notary for you.
About the notarial certificate itself
The notarial certificate is usually a separate document to the document you have signed or the copy of a document etc. It is attached to your document.
The content of a notarial certificate
A notarial certificate will contain the following information:
- my name
- that I am authorised to work as a notarial public
- the date when I sign the notarial certificate (this date can sometimes be different to the date you sign your document)
- the place where I sign the notarial certificate (the place where I sign can sometimes different to the place you sigh your document)
- my signature
- my seal
- the nature of what I have done as a notary:
- I have seen you sign a document;
- I have certified a copy of a document;
- I have certified a fact or an event
- details of the parties who are involved in the above, generally the persons who are signing the document or asking me to certify a copy. I will normally include the following details:
- their full name;
- their address;
- details of their passport;
- their date of birth;
- their nationality
- the country to which the signed document or certified copy etc is going
- (sometimes) the purpose why the signed document or certified copy copy etc is needed
Why not just write ‘certified to be a true copy’ on, e.g. a copy of a passport or a copy of degree certificate
Many lawyers in England when asked to certify a copy as a true copy of an original document will often just write on the copy words such as:
Certified to be a true copy of the original.
and do nothing more other than just add their signature, date etc.
Doing this is entirely possibly for a notary but is not recommended by the guidance and training a notary receives. The guidance a notary receives recommends a notary always prepare a separate document so that items 1 to 7 in the above list appear on the separate document. The ‘best practice’ guidance available to notaries states:
As a matter of good practice, it is recommended that the direct notarial certificate should always be a separate certificate prepared and signed and sealed by the notary himself, and to which will be annexed all the documents and information which are to be authenticated. The endorsement of a certificate carries the risks that some essential element may not appear in the act itself, and that the notary may, by implication, be verifying the whole of the content of the document when the intention is only to authentic the signature.
(from The General Notary, published by the Notaries Society, 4.20)
What does a notarial certificate look like?
Each notary will have their own type of notarial certificate. Here are few examples of the type I produce:
- The first is for where a client signs a document such as a power of attorney
- the second is for where I certify a copy of a passport.
- the third is for where a UK private limited company signs a power of attorney.
Do I always use a separate document for my notarial certificate?
No. There is no absolute rule regarding this. What is stated above is good practice and applies to most documents I deal with as a notary. There are types of documents which it is not required or expected that I will prepare a separate document. Here are some examples:
- some types of power of attorney (often from countries such as Spain, and those countries whose legal system is based on Spanish law)
- USA official documents