Notary

Notary

A notary is a lawyer or person with legal training who is licensed by the state to perform acts in legal affairs, in particular witnessing signatures on documents. The form that the notarial profession takes varies with local legal systems.

Most common law systems have what is called in the United States a notary public, a public official who notarizes legal documents and who can also administer and take oaths and affirmations, among other tasks. In the United States, a Signing agent, also known as a Loan Signing Agent, is a Notary Public who specializes in notarizing mortgage/real estate documents. Although notaries public are public officials, they are not paid by the government; they may obtain income by charging fees, provide free services in connection with other employment (for example, bank employees), or may provide free services for the public good.

Most Roman law-based systems have the civil law notary, a legal professional working in civil law performing similar functions, but often rather more extensive. The Worshipful Company of Scriveners use an old English term for a notary, and are an association of notaries practicing in central London since 1373. To "notarize" a document or event is not a term of art, and its definition varies from place to place; but it generally means the performance by a notary of a series of possible steps, which may include the following (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Identifying the person appearing before the notary by reference to significant proofs of evidence including passport, driving licence, birth certificate, diplomatic documents etc. The notary may have to exercise considerable ingenuity in some cases, such as in the case of holocaust victims who lack formal documentation or illegal immigrants
  2. Where land titles are involved or significant rights may accrue by reference to the identity, signatures may also be verified, recorded and compared
  3. Recording the proof of identity in the notarial register or protocol
  4. Satisfying the notary that the person appearing is of full age and capacity to do whatever is intended
  5. Taking an affidavit or declaration and recording that fact
  6. Taking detailed instructions for a protest of a bill of exchange or a ship's protest and preparing it
  7. Recording the signature of the person in the register or protocol
  8. Taking an acknowledgment (in the USA) of execution of a document and preparing a certificate of acknowledgement
  9. Preparing a notarial certificate (in most other jurisdictions) as to the execution or other step
  10. Sealing or stamping and signing the document
  11. Recording all steps in the register or protocol
  12. Delivering the completed original to the person appearing
  13. In some cases, retaining a copy of the document in the register or protocol
  14. Charging the person appearing a fee for the service

Often, in the case of lawyer notaries, the certificate to be provided will not require the person appearing to sign. Examples are: certificates authenticating copies - which are mostly not within the permissible functions of USA notaries, and certificates as to law, such as certificates as to the capacity of a company to perform certain acts, or explaining probate law in the place.


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  • notary — index notary public Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 notary …   Law dictionary

  • notary — UK [ˈnəʊtərɪ] / US [ˈnoʊtərɪ] or notary public UK / US noun [countable] Word forms notary : singular notary plural notaries Word forms notary public : singular notary public plural notaries public legal someone who has the legal authority to make …   English dictionary

  • Notary — No ta*ry, n.; pl. {Notaries}. [F. notaire, L. notarius notary (in sense 1), fr. nota mark. See 5th {Note}.] [1913 Webster] 1. One who records in shorthand what is said or done; as, the notary of an ecclesiastical body. [1913 Webster] 2. (Eng. &… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • notary — no‧ta‧ry [ˈnəʊtəri ǁ ˈnoʊ ] noun notaries PLURALFORM also notary public notaries public PLURALFORM [countable] LAW JOBS someone such as a lawyer with the legal power to notarize a document …   Financial and business terms

  • notary — (n.) c.1300, clerk, secretary, from O.Fr. notarie scribe, clerk, secretary (12c.) and directly from L. notarius shorthand writer, clerk, secretary, from notare, to note, from nota shorthand character, letter, note (see NOTE (Cf. note) (v.)).… …   Etymology dictionary

  • notary — [n] notary public certifier, commissioner for oaths, court clerk, endorser, public official, recorder, registrar, scrivener, signatory, witness; concepts 355,423 …   New thesaurus

  • notary — (in full notary public) ► NOUN (pl. notaries) ▪ a person authorized to perform certain legal formalities, especially to draw up or certify contracts, deeds, etc. DERIVATIVES notarial adjective. ORIGIN Latin notarius secretary …   English terms dictionary

  • notary — [nōt′ə rē] n. pl. notaries [ME notarye < OFr notaire < L notarius < notare, to NOTE] short for NOTARY PUBLIC …   English World dictionary

  • notary — notaryship, n. /noh teuh ree/, n., pl. notaries. See notary public. [1275 1325; ME < L notarius clerk, equiv. to not(are) to NOTE, mark + arius ARY] * * * or notary public Public officer who certifies and attests to the authenticity of writings… …   Universalium

  • Notary — Also called a notary public, this state appointed official witnesses important document signings and verifies the identities of the signers to help deter fraud and identity theft. A notarized document will contain the seal and signature of the… …   Investment dictionary


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