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Private Individuals > Notary Services > Notary Services Explained

Notary Services Explained

Who is a Notary?

A Notary is a qualified lawyer - a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in the United Kingdom. He is appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and is subject to regulation by the Court of Faculties. The rules which affect Notaries are very similar to the rules which affect Solicitors. They must be fully insured and maintain fidelity cover for the protection of their clients and the public. They must keep client's money separately from their own and comply with stringent practice rules and rules relating to conduct and discipline. Notaries have to renew their practising certificates every year and can only do so if they have complied with the rules.

Getting Ready

Obviously, each case must be different but usually the Notary will:

  • Expect you to make an appointment
  • Need you to bring good evidence of identity. Generally this will have to be a current valid passport and something like a Council tax or electricity bill to confirm your address
  • Need to be satisfied that you understand any document particularly a document which is not in English
  • Want to see any relevant papers or documents that relate to the matter

If you can send or fax a copy of your document to the Notary before your appointment this may save time and expense.

What does it cost?

Our hourly rate is £200 and the minimum charge for a Notary matter is £100. If you would like a more precise quote for your case please contact us prior to the appointment. There are no set charges although The Notaries Society reminds its members that they should charge a proper fee which is appropriate for the level of service offered and which will enable them to meet the cost of acting properly and in accordance with the Rules made by the Faculty Office and with the demands of good professional practice. For most matters the Notary should be able to tell you his fee in advance. For more complex matters he will tell you how his fee will be assessed - usually based on how long he will have to work on your matter. There may be fees to pay to third parties, such as the Foreign Office or an Embassy.

How long will it take?

If the document is straightforward, already prepared and in the correct form one appointment of approximately 30 minutes should be sufficient. Obviously it takes longer if the document is not straightforward, there are several signatories or he has to draw up the document or make a proper copy.

Many countries want documents to be countersigned by their London Embassies (legalisation) and/or validated by an Apostille. This will take several days unless you take them to the Embassy in person and wait in line. The fees and procedures for this vary widely but the Notary should be able to give you a reasonably accurate idea of the time and cost.


Legalisation is the process by which the signature and seal of the Notary are authenticated by the Foreign Office and the Foreign Embassy.

Documents going to countries which are, or have been, part of the British Commonwealth seldom need legalisation.

Most countries accept only one certificate from the Foreign Office called an Apostille and this costs £30 and usually takes 1 - 2 weeks to get by post.

Some countries want one certificate from the Foreign Office and one from their own Embassy. This can take longer. There are other procedures that apply only to a few countries, and there can be problems if a document is to be used in a country with which the United Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations. Your Notary may not be able to tell you in advance what legalisation will cost, but fees can be high for some commercial documents.

The Foreign Office address is:

The Legalisation Office
Norfolk House (West)
437 Silbury Boulevard
Milton Keynes


Foreign Law & Languages

Many notaries speak foreign languages and know about foreign laws, but not all of them do. Your document may be in a language you do not understand or have to do with a foreign legal system you do not know about.

Your Notary must be sure that both you and he understand the document and know what effect it will have when it goes abroad. He cannot simply take your word for it. He may have to insist that it is properly translated into English, or that a qualified interpreter is present at your interview. He may need both. You will have to pay for these extra services. The cost varies according to the length and complexity of the document and the language involved.