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Can I get an apostille in Canada? What is legalization/authentication?

Canada does not have apostilles, since Canada is not a signatory to an international convention governing apostilles. This is important if you are planning your notarized document in another country. A Canadian alternative to the apostille is a process known as authentication (or legalization). Essentially, authentication (legalization) is the process in which the notary’s credential is formally recognized by a governmental authority. To authenticate (legalize) a document, the first step is to get the document notarized. The next step (or steps) depends on where the document is going to end up. Depending on the country you are sending the document to, you may have to authenticate the document through your provincial government or through the federal Department of Foreign Affairs. To make matters more complicated, the embassies or consulates of certain countries have additional requirements. If you have to authenticate a document, your best bet is to discuss this with someone from the embassy or consulate of the country where you are sending the document.

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What will a notary do to my document?

In most cases, a notary will sign and date your document and will also add a stamp and seal to the document. The seal is typically an impression seal that embosses the page that is signed.

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My spouse and I want to sign a separation agreement. Can we take that to a notary?

In most cases, a separation agreement will not be legally binding unless each party has independent legal advice. A notary will not want to advise you on a separation agreement as part of a notarization and he or she will not be able to advise both you and your spouse. Also, a notary may not even be knowledgeable about divorce and family law. As such, you and your spouse should find qualified family lawyers to prepare and review your separation agreement.

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If I make a mistake on a notarized document, can I white it out?

No, in most cases you should not white out mistakes on a notarized document as this may invalidate the document itself. If you discover a mistake on the document, you should cross it out, and you and the notary should both place your initials beside the crossed out mistake.

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Should I prepare the document in advance or should I have the notary fill out the document?

As a general rule, all the necessary information should already be included on a document to be notarized. The only places on the document that should be left blank are where you and the notary sign and date the document. If the notary has to fill in information on your document, or has to wait for you to fill in that information, you will likely be billed extra.

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Do I need to prove my identity when I sign a document in front of a notary?

Yes. If a notary public is witnessing your signature, you will have to confirm your identity with a valid and unexpired piece of government issued picture ID.

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What can I expect to pay to notarize a document?

Since most notaries are lawyers, and since most lawyers bill hundreds of dollars an hour, you should expect to pay in the neighbourhood of $50 to $100 for one or two documents. If you have several documents to notarize, you may have to pay hundreds of dollars.

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Do notaries provide legal advice?

Typically, a notary is not providing legal advice when witnessing a document that you are signing. There may be some exceptions to this rule, such as when a lawyer has prepared an affidavit and then notarized your signature on the affidavit. In most cases, a lawyer will be very reluctant to give legal advice to someone who is not an existing client who is simply getting a document notarized. If you wish to obtain legal advice on a document you are notarizing, you should indicate in advance that you will need legal advice on the document you are signing. Depending on the type of document you are signing and the background of the lawyer, the lawyer notarizing the document may be unable to provide you with the necessary legal advice.

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What is the difference between a notary public and a commissioner for oaths?

A notary public typically is regarded as a higher level of witness, so that a notarized document can often be used outside of the province or country where the document was signed. In some cases a notarized document will also have to be legalized or authenticated before it can be used outside of Canada. The recognition of a commissioner for oaths may not extend outside of the province where the document was signed. While a notary is typically a lawyer or other professional, most people can qualify to become a commissioner for oaths.

 

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Why would I need a notary public?

For certain documents, it is important to verify that the person signing the document actually signed the document. A notary acts in that case like a professional witness. In some situations, a non-notary witness will suffice, but for certain important documents it may be necessary to have a notary act as a witness.

Some documents even require the swearing of an oath, or the making of a solemn declaration. For those documents, a notary is qualified to administer the oath or declaration. If the person making the oath or declaration gives false evidence in the document, he or she may be found guilty of perjury, which is a criminal offence.

A notary can also certify that a copied document is a true copy of an original document. In order to do this, the notary must see the original document to confirm that the copy is indeed a true copy. In these cases, the notary is not typically confirming that the contents of the document itself are accurate, but simply that the copy is an accurate copy of the original.

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