Documents often need to be signed by a solicitor or notary public before the apostille can be issued.
The apostille certificate is added to a document that bears the signature of a public official or the seal of an official document. Many documents do not have a public signature or seal and need to be certified by a solicitor or notary before they can be legalised legalised by apostille.
What documents need certifying by a solicitor or notary public?
There are lots of documents that need to be signed and certified by a solicitor or public notary before the apostille can be attached. The following is a small sample of documents that normally need signing first-
- Academic certificates and qualifications (original or copies may be certified)
- Company documents (original or copies may be certified)
- Passports and driving licence (copies are always signed)
- Power of attorney (normally original documents are witnessed)
- Wills and last testaments (original or copies may be signed)
- Affidavits and declarations (original documents are witnessed)
- Deed Polls (original or copies may be signed)
- Contracts, agreements or resolutions (original or copies may be signed)
Of course there are many different types of documents legalised by apostille that require solicitor certification.
What is the difference?
A notary public is typically a solicitor that has taken another qualification to become a notary public. There are a few notaries that are not also solicitors but this is less common.
The primary function of a notary public is the certification or authentication of documents and signatures. In many circumstances a solicitor can perform this task but occasionally an overseas authority may insist that a document is signed by a notary public rather than a solicitor but this is unusual.
The fees vary considerably. Solicitors typically charge £10 to £25 to sign a document. Notaries may charge anywhere from £50 to £100 for their signature.
Why pay more for a notary’s signature?
If your document clearly states that it must be signed or witnessed by a notary public then you must follow this instruction. This is seen on some powers of attorneys that are provided from solicitors outside the UK. If your document needs a basic certification then a solicitor should be able to provide this service. If you are not sure whether a notary or solicitor certification is required we recommend you check this with the person asking you for the apostille on your document.
What are they certifying?
The certification applied to a document will depend on the type of document you need legalising and the function being carried out. For example a power attorney is normally signed in the presence of the solicitor who will state the document was ‘signed in my presence’ or the signature was ‘witnessed by’ them. When copies of documents are being produced (e.g. certifying degree certificates) then the solicitor may add the comment that the document is ‘a true copy of the original document’. Many solicitors have their own preference on the certification they use and may even keep rubber stamps for this purpose.
If you need any advice on getting your document correctly certified then contact The Apostille Service for clarification. We can advise on how your document should be processed and may be able to arrange for your document to be certified by one of our solicitors.