Frequently asked questions

What services does a Notary Public provide?

A Notary, or Notary Public, can authenticate or witness most documents. A Notary can also arrange legalisation or obtain Apostilles, when needed. You will often require the services of a Notary Public when you have documents that are needed for use abroad. The Notary’s signature and seal will verify to the authorities in that country that any relevant checks have been carried out and that the documents have been properly signed.

What is the difference between a Notary and a solicitor?

Notaries form a small, highly specialised branch of the legal profession, whose area of specialisation is the preparation and certification of documents so that they may be used effectively abroad.

Solicitors form by far the largest part of the legal profession. They provide advice and representation to their clients on a wide variety of legal issues, usually within the legal framework of their country of residence.

One important difference between a Notary and a solicitor is that whereas a solicitor’s primary duty is to his client, the Notary’s primary duty is to the transaction and the authenticity of the documents. As Notary Public’s are recognised worldwide, they have to maintain absolute integrity and impartiality to maintain the standing of the Notarial profession.

What is an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration?

Notaries are authorised to administer oaths and to take declarations.  Affidavits are used for the purpose of giving written evidence in judicial proceedings. Where the execution of deeds or other facts have to be proved otherwise than in a court, the proof may be made by means of a Statutory Declaration.  A Notary will advise on the correct form of Affidavit or Statutory Declaration for particular purposes and, if necessary, draw these up for the client.

What is Notarial Certification?

Documents which are to be used overseas often need to be prepared or certified by a notary.  Notaries are authorised to prepare and certify many different types of document, to be produced in other countries.  Every country has its own requirements as to how legal documents are prepared, executed and certified.  Notaries are qualified to advise on the varying formalities involved.  Where appropriate, documents and notarial certificates can be prepared in the languages of the jurisdiction concerned.

Notaries may also certify copies and translations of documents.

What is an Apostille?

Frequently, once a document has been notarised, some further formalities must be undertaken before it can be used overseas; these formalities may include consular legalisation or certification by Apostille in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing legalisation.  An Apostille is a certificate issued by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirming the signature and seal of the notary and this procedure is accepted in an increasing number of countries.  However, some countries still require notarial documents to be legalised and the document must, in those circumstances, be presented to the consulate or other diplomatic representation of the country where the document is to be used.

Brian will arrange for legalisation or certification by Apostille whenever required.

Documents in a foreign language

If a document requiring notarisation is in a foreign language, it is usually necessary for the document to be translated by an official legal translator who will then have to sign a statutory declaration certifying that it is a true translation.

In exceptional cases the Notary may be satisfied to fix their seal of office and signature on documents in a foreign language if they are fully satisfied that the person signing is conversant with the language of the document.

If the services of an official legal translator is required, Brian can arrange for documents to be professionally translated into almost any language.

What is a Ships Protest?

On the arrival of a vessel at her port of discharge, her owners or underwriters may require the master to enter a note of protest. This must be made before a notary public. This formality is observed when, owing to exceptionally bad weather or some accident at sea, damage has been caused to the ship or her cargo, and is intended to show that such damage was caused by maritime perils and not by any negligence or misconduct on the part of the master, officers or crew.

What proof of identity does a Notary require?

Following the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act, 2010, Public Notaries are obliged to obtain and keep sufficient evidence on their files as to the identity and the address of all their clients for at least five years. These are compulsory checks which Notaries have to make of their clients which in many cases go beyond the identification standards which Notaries have traditionally applied.

Being asked for additional identification does not mean you are under suspicion. The new identification requirements apply to all clients when they are asking Notaries to authenticate documents or undertake certain other types of work.

Each person whose signature is to be certified must provide one of the following original identification documents at the time of the appointment:

  • A current valid Passport
  • A National identity card (issued by an EU member State, the Swiss Confederation or an EEA member State)
  • A travel document issued under section 4 of the Refugee Act, 1996.
  • Any other form of travel document issued by the Irish State for limited purposes.

In addition, the Notary will require proof of residence, which should be in the form of a utility bill showing the person's name and place of residence and which must not have been issued more than three months prior to the date the person comes before the Notary.

For business clients, a Notary will (in addition to checking your personal identity) now need to establish that the company or organisation which you represent actually exists and in many cases that you are authorised to represent that company or organisation. In the case of companies or organisations based in Ireland, the Notary will generally conduct his own checks to satisfy himself that the company or organisation exists. In some cases he may ask you to produce certain documents.  These might include a certificate of incorporation, good standing certificate or other similar evidence.  If the notary has to certify your authority to represent a company or organisation, additional documentation will be requested, for example:-

  • Constitutional documents (e.g. memorandum and articles of association)
  • Power of Attorney
  • Board Resolutions
  • Authorised signatory book
What does it cost?

An early indication of the costs can usually be given in advance but in order to establish the charges the following would be needed:
What service you need – witnessing signatures, certifying copy documents, obtaining Apostille etc
The type of documents concerned – for instance is it a Power of Attorney that you need witnessing.
Who is signing or presenting the documents – are they personal papers or for a company?
How many documents are there?
To which country or countries are they going?