Have you been told by one person that your signature needs to be attested and then another person has told you that your signature needs to be notarised? This glossary page is here to help you understand the terms used by notaries and hopefully provide you with a better understanding of what will happen to your documents when they are notarised.
Affidavit – an affidavit is a sworn written statement that confirms that its contents are true. The contents of an affidavit must be true and it is a criminal offence to knowingly make an affidavit containing a false statement. Therefore, we advise that you read through the affidavit and ensure that you understand everything contained within it. You may need an affidavit to obtain Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status, to confirm a change of name or perhaps an affidavit of non-impediment to marry.
Apostille – the apostille is a form of legalisation from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The apostille is a certificate that is placed on the document or notarial certificate to confirm the signature and seal on a document by a UK public official. An apostille is required for countries that are signatories to the Convention of 5th October 1961 abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents. It is best to check with the receiving party if you require an apostille but our notaries here will also be able to advise you. We are able to submit documents to the Foreign Office on your behalf, and if you need your document to be legalised urgently then we can do this for you on the same/one day service. Further information about the apostille can be found at the Hague Convention’s website.
Attestation – if you require your signature to be attested, then our notaries will confirm your signature on a document (otherwise known as ‘notarisation’). The signature will need to be subscribed in the presence of one of our notaries and you will need to provide a valid form of ID and a recent proof of address.
Certification – if you are informed that you need your signature certified then this is the witnessing of your signature by the notary (otherwise known as ‘notarisation’). The signature will need to be subscribed in the presence of one of our notaries and you will need to provide a valid form of ID and a recent proof of address.
Certificate of Good Standing – a certificate of good standing will show that a Company has been in continuous unbroken existence since its incorporation and that no action is currently being taken by the Registrar of Companies to strike the Company off the register. The certificate can be ordered directly from Companies House (a process our notaries are very familiar with) and may contain various additional information, such as:
- Details of the directors and secretary
- Registered office address
- Issued share capital
- Objects of the Company
Certificate of Incorporation –this will include the Company name, company number and the date of incorporation. We are able to download a copy of the certificate of incorporation from the Companies House website, or order a copy certified by the Registrar. A certificate of incorporation on change of name will be issued once the name of the company has been successfully changed. The certificate will include the company’s previous name, as well as the new name and the date when name change was effective.
Consularisation – this is a form of legalisation whereby the document is legalised at the consulate of the country in which it will be used. For example, a document for use in China will first need to be apostilled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and then it will need to be stamped by the Chinese Consulate in London. Some documents may be stamped directly by the appropriate consulate without being apostilled first (for example Panama).
Current Appointments Report – this can be downloaded from Companies House and includes details such as the Company name, number, registered address, previous names of the Company, key filing dates, current appointments and details of the recent filing history.
Legalisation – legalisation is a separate step from notarisation. Once a document has been notarised, it is common for a document to be legalised. Legalisation is a process where the signature of a notary is authenticated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and/or by the Consulate of the country where the document is to be used. Some countries do not require this extra step, however our notaries will be able to advise you whether this additional process is required. Our London-based team have excellent links with all of the Consulates across London.
Memorandum and Articles of Association – Both the memorandum of association and articles of association can be downloaded directly from the Companies House website. The memorandum of association details the will of the subscribers to form a company under the Companies Act whereas the articles of association set out the ‘rules’ of the Company and, for example, they include instructions on the appointment of a director, the transfer of shares and the minimum/maximum number of directors allowed as well as the rights and duties of those directors.
Notarisation – notarisation is the process of the certification of a document by a notary. Notarisation, certification and attestation are interchangeable words for the witnessing of a signature on a document, so if you are told you need your signature attested bye person and then told by another that your signature needs to be notarised, then do not worry, these are the same steps and our notaries here will be more than happy to help.
Notary seal – the notary will affix their own unique seal to the document once it has been signed. If the document requires an apostille, then the Foreign Office will authenticate the seal of the notary as well as their signature.
Power of Attorney – a power of attorney is used when a person or company wishes for someone else to carry out an act on their behalf when they cannot be present. For example, if you wish to sell your property in France but you are unable to attend, then you are able to grant a friend, family member or lawyer in France the power to act on your behalf. The two main powers of attorney that our notaries deal with are general powers of attorney and special powers of attorney. A general power of attorney gives the attorney very wide powers to act, whereas a special power of attorney will specify what powers the attorney has.
Spanish NIE – An NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is a Spanish tax identification number for individuals that are not Spanish citizens. If you are not able to go to Spain, but need to obtain an NIE number then you will need a power of attorney (poder) in order for a person in Spain to obtain this number for you. In addition, you will need a notarised and apostilled copy of your passport to accompany the power of attorney. We will be able to assist you with the preparation, notarisation and legalisation of such a power.
True Copy – Our notaries are able to certify true copies of various original documents including degree certificates, passports and company documents. The notary will need to see the original and, in some cases, verify its authenticity with the issuing body.