Notary Public

Notary public and its role in property sales


When UK residents buy or sell property abroad, they often want to deal with the legal aspects of the sale from home. So, they give power of attorney to a lawyer who practices in the country they plan to do business in. In order for this power to be legally transferred, the services of a notary public are required.

What does power of attorney mean in relation to overseas property sales?

Power of attorney allows a foreign lawyer to act on your behalf and sign all documents relating to the sale of the real estate. The lawyer will also carry out any required activities for the transaction, such as a land search.

What does the notary public do?

A notary witnesses signatures on documents that grant power of attorney to a foreign legal representative – the specifics of the paperwork will depend on the law of the country the sale is taking place in.

In order to prevent fraud, the notary will confirm identity by checking passports, utility bills, birth certificates and driving licences. They will then sign the power of attorney documents themselves, and formally seal them.

If the power of attorney has not been issued in English, the notary will need to see a translation to ensure their client fully understands the documents they are signing. This part of the process is to verify knowledge; it does not involve providing legal advice on the sale itself.

What about legalisation?

Notarisation of the power of attorney will usually suffice for common law countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia and most of the US.

However, many countries are ruled by civil law, which means legalisation via an apostille will also be necessary. An apostille is a government certificate that authenticates a notarised document. In England and Wales they are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Further legalisation through a consulate or embassy office is required by some countries.

Property sale notarisation

South London Notaries can offer comprehensive notarisation and legalisation services for business and personal clients in England and Wales. For more information, please visit our Services page.

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