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Notary Public

Notaries are members of the legal profession who authenticate signatures and documents for commercial firms involved in international trade as well as for private individuals. Their main tasks include:

  • preparing and witnessing documents (such as powers of attorney) for use in foreign countries
  • dealing with the purchase or sale of land and property overseas
  • providing documentation concerning the estates of people who live or own property abroad
  • dealing with documents needed for immigration or emigration purposes
  • authenticating documents for international business and trade transactions.

Notaries in England and Wales can also carry out the full range of legal duties, apart from contentious matters and appearing in court.

Most notaries work normal office hours between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, but must work outside these hours when necessary. Few people outside London derive their full income from notary work. Most combine the role with that of a full-time solicitor. Part-time work may be available.

Earnings vary enormously and can be between £3,000 and £60,000 a year for notary work alone. Full-time notaries working in London can earn up to £150,000 with appropriate experience.

A notary should be:

  • prepared to work independently and take responsibility
  • able to take in and remember a large amount of complicated information
  • completely honest and reliable when dealing with financial matters
  • able to deal with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • good at learning foreign languages (for some posts).

There are around 900 notaries in England and Wales. All candidates who wish to become notaries must either have a qualifying law degree or be qualified as solicitors or barristers. They must be registered with the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and complete the Postgraduate Diploma in notarial practice. This is offered by  University College London by distance learning over two years.

Newly qualified notaries must practise for the first two years under the supervision of a qualified notary. It is possible to take further courses in languages and foreign law to qualify as a scrivener notary, a profession traditionally practised only in the City of London.

Notaries may become partners in law firms or set up their own companies.

Further information

The Faculty Office, 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3JT. 020 7222 5381. Website:

University College London Bentham House - Endsleigh Gardens - London WC1H 0EG Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 2000

The Notaries Society, The Administration Department, PO Box 226, Melton,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1WX. 01394 3804236 Website:

Worshipful Company of Scriveners, HQS Wellington, Temple Stairs, Victoria Embankment, London, WC2R 2PN. 020 7240 0529. Website:

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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