There is often a lot of confusion over what a notary does, what services are offered and when you may need to employ a notary yourself. In this article, we break down the basics of notarial services offered internationally, and what the differences are between a scrivener and a public notary.
What is a Notary?
Notaries are legally appointed officials who serve to administer oaths, affirmations and acknowledgements. They also verify or give proof of the execution of important legal documents. Most countries have some form of notary public who perform their services upon request to the general public, however, many countries also have notaries that work only with international matters and foreign language documents so that they can give the proper legal proof for all documents, even those in which they are not in the official language or would otherwise require translation.
What services are performed by a Notary?
Notaries can make sure that documents are:
In order (i.e., valid from the state/country of origin) and in the correct language. Used in a certain way (i.e., signatures, notarized under a given treaty.) Signed by the person whose name appears on it. Signed according to proper documentation. Notarized for the purpose that it was intended to be.
A notary may also perform other services, such as:
Approving or certifying copies of documents. Recommending individual witnesses. Applying seal(s) to documents (for example, on an original will). Taking an acknowledgment for delivery of a document (these are typically used in international and international-specific, but not in domestic legal matters). Establishing ownership of personal property, real estate and other records.
Scrivener Notary vs Public Notary
The most common type of notary is the public notary, or as they are known in the US, the commissioned notary. Certain locations only have commissioning jurisdictions for public notaries (such as some states in the US), however, in most countries there are both commissioned and non-commissioned (professional or private) notaries.
A scrivener notary, also known as private or professional notary, or commissioning notarisation in the UK is an alternative to the public notary. A scrivener notary will normally be sponsored by another person (in most cases, a lawyer) and will usually perform all of the services listed above on their own. Additionally, they may perform other services such as:
Applying seals to documents. Taking acknowledgements for delivery of documents. Verifying documents. Certifying copies of documents. Recommending individual witnesses. Creating certified translations. Conversing with overseas counsel, authorities, courts, opposing parties or their attorneys.
When to use a scrivener notary
Scrivener notary services are generally used in the following instances:
– When a document must be certified by a notary.
– When a document must be translated into a foreign language, but the translation is also legally valid for use in most countries.
– Professional advice from an expert on the legal validity of documents or their execution for use internationally.
What is the difference between a Public and a Scrivener Notary? Why do some countries have both?
Many countries do not have public notaries at all, and instead commissioning is done by a scrivener who is sometimes called an honorary notary. In countries that have both, a private commissioning notary can be hired to perform the same services as a public commissioning notary in foreign language documents, although the number of countries that employ both is growing.
A commissioned public notary will normally be paid a fee for their services or something in return (such as a service), whereas the fees of private scrivener notaries will usually simply be passed on to the client.
“The scrivener is the notary of the future. He is independent and self-dependent. He has dignity. And he has no superiors.” – Friedrich Nietzsche