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01 April 2015

In business overseas? Notary Public requirements

It's a surprising and little known fact that, until recently, you were often unable to do business in Italy without a declaration stating that you were not a member of the Mafia! In order to do this, you would have needed the services of a Notary Public - a member of the oldest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales, appointed by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The primary role of Notaries is to verify documents and information to be used in other countries, so any business that trades internationally or has property abroad (or which is involved in litigation in foreign Courts) will require their services at some time. Setting up overseas offices, appointing agents and registering patents and trademarks internationally are among the most common reasons for involving a Notary.

Any documents relating to these activities must be 'notarised' in order to have legal validity in the country in question. A Notary will verify the identity, the authority, the capacity and the will of the person presenting the documents and authenticate the event or the fact presented to him. The most common documents requiring notarisation are Powers of Attorney (whereby a company authorises a representative to deal with their affairs abroad), trade agreements, contracts, tenders and patent applications.

Many countries also require certain documents to be "legalised" after the notarisation; this is a Government certification as to the Notary's status, either given by means of what is known as an Apostille from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, or by the Consulate in question.

So, if you're about to do business overseas for the first time, be aware that there may be a few more hoops to jump through than you might have thought!

David Wilkinson is a qualified Notaries Public based in Gerrards Cross and will be happy to provide advice if you are unsure about whether your business needs the services of a Notary.

David can be contacted on 01753 278665 or

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