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    Winston Churchill is often quoted as describing the USA and the UK as being ‘two nations divided by a common language’. While I hope that this division is now less pronounced than it was in the 1940’s, I often find that US citizens approaching UK Notaries Public are surprised to find not only that the cost of Notarial work in the UK is substantially higher than in the USA, but also the procedures to be far more complex than they expected.

    I hope that this brief guide to UK Notary procedures will clarify some of the reasons for this common misconception.

    Legal qualifications required to practice as a UK Notary

    Most notaries public in the UK also practice as a solicitor or barrister. It is possible, although quite rare to be a qualified notary without being a lawyer first but it does require passing strict legal qualifications.

    Length of commission

    A UK notary is qualified for an indefinite period (subject to the issuing of an annual practicing certificate by the Faculty Office). Consequently the concept of a commission expiring does not apply to UK notaries.

    Verification requirements

    A UK notary is required to identify the individual via two forms of identification (both of which must comply with money laundering regulations) and then is required to determine matters such as authority to sign (for example in the case of a company if this is a director or individual that has been authorized via a board resolution).

    Further, a UK Notary Public must determine the knowledge and understanding of the individual signing the document. This is particularly important for foreign documentation which may be in alternative languages. Finally a notary is required to ensure that the document is executed in a manner which meets the legal requirements for the document involved (e.g power of attorney being signed in the presence of a witness.)

    Notarization process

    UK Notaries have a steel bespoke stamp which is usually embossed on to the page of the notarization

    In addition most notaries will rivet and usually tie with ribbon the document which they notarize to ensure that the notarized document is complete with no pages being able to be moved in or out of the document after notarization.

    Legal status of UK Notaries

    UK Notaries are deemed to be Public Officials. Therefore documents which have been notarized by a UK Notary Public can then be legalised either through the Foreign and Commonwealth office by adding an apostille or alternatively via various UK embassies recording and acknowledging the public function carried out by a notary.

    Typical fees charged by UK Notaries

    UK notaries are required by the Notary rules to charge a reasonable fee which is appropriate for the services undertaken. As a consequence most UK notaries will charge a fee per document of somewhere between £60-£120.

    Legal protection and Insurance

    UK Notaries Public are bound by a duty of care and are therefore required to carry a minimum level of £750,000 of professional indemnity cover. In reality most UK notaries will carry several million pounds worth of professional insurance.

    Further information

    For further information on any aspect of how UK Notary practices differ from their US counterparts, please contact Matthew Pryke via

    Matthew Pryke is a fully qualified UK notary Public and Head of Intellectual Property and Corporate Law at Wallace LLP – a London legal practice.

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    Matthew, thank you for sharing and giving us insight on notary public’s in the UK.

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    Notary Public Supplies: You are welcome. Thank you for your post.

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