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What is a notary public?

A notary public is a qualified lawyer appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The notarial profession is subject to the rules and disciplinary control exercised by the Master through the Court of Faculties.


A notary public holds a public office and it may act for both individuals and businesses. It deals with transactions relating to foreign matters. Its main role is to verify and certify various documents in such a way that they are legally admissible and effective for foreign judicial authorities or foreign public authorities. It also offers legal services relating to all manner of transactions, for example, dealing with the purchase or sale of land abroad or providing documents to deal with the administration of the estate abroad.

Legalisation and Apostille: What are they? 

It is often a requirement by foreign authorities that documents are legalised before they can be used for official purposes in their country.

The legalisation requirements are determined only by the authorities in the country to which the document is going to be submitted, not by the UK government or a notary public, therefore they need to be checked with the local requesting party of that country.

Legalisation does not certify the authenticity of a document or give approval of its content. Legalisation is the process by which the signature and seal of a notary public is authenticated by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It takes a form of a stamped official certificate – an apostille.

For certain countries, after an apostille is applied, the document must be forwarded to the relevant foreign embassy, consulate or High Commission for that respective country in the United Kingdom for further legalisation.


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