What is a notary?

A notary public is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with foreign or international business. Notaries in Ireland are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court. In general only solicitors are appointed as notaries.

A notary is obliged to vouch and keep records of the identity of all persons appearing before him to sign documents.


What does a notary do?

Notaries certify the execution in their presence of a deed, a contract or other writing. They can also verify some act or thing done in their presence. Among the things they do are:

  • Authenticating documents
  • Witnessing and proving signatures to documents
  • Administering oaths
  • Taking affidavits (other than for the courts in Ireland)
  • Drawing up Powers of Attorney and other legal documents customarily prepared by notaries public
  • Preparing documents to comply with international "know your client", client identification and beneficial ownership obligations
When an Irish notary attests a signature he will also ascertain the identity of the signatory and the signatory must always sign in the presence of the notary. Because notaries are registered with the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade this allows the Department to verify the signature of a notary on a particular document. This system creates a mechanism whereby the authenticity of documents can be verified internationally.

How much does it cost?

The question of "how much does a notarisation cost?" is one I am often asked and it's nice to be able to give a direct answer - €60. Unfortunately the process can be more complicated and about 30% of the time it's necessary to charge a little more. If you are unwaged, a senior citizen or otherwise disadvantaged please let me know as I can also charge less in certain circumstances. 

Charges vary depending on the particular engagement and the nature of any additional services required. If a document requires to be translated or is in a foreign language, if you require urgent service or if the document contains a legal opinion on corporate matters I will have to charge more. 

Accordingly, it's best to say that my basic fee for a single document signed at our office during normal working hours is €60. Where there are multiple documents and just one signatory, I apply a 50% discount on the third and each subsequent document (so five such documents would cost €210).

Some documents can be more complex and may have multiple signers, may require unusual means of execution (e.g. the affixing of an inked fingerprint) or require the effective giving of a legal opinion as to the status of a corporate signatory. Similarly, it is sometimes necessary to draw up documents such as powers of attorney which comply both with Irish law and the law of the place in which they are to be used. In such circumstances, the fee would be higher and may be calculated either on a 'per document' basis or on the basis of the time that will be taken overall. 

I can provide out of hours service and service to your location by prior arrangement (and at a reasonable additional charge). I am happy to provide a fixed fee quote in advance if you are in a position to share your documents by email.

I am pleased to be able to accept cash, cheque, Revolut, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Visa, V Pay, Maestro, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, UnionPay and Discover. If you can think of another means of payment we don't accept please let me know. Note that we have no plans to accept Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.


When am I likely to need a notary?

You are most likely to require a notary where you have to send papers or documents to a foreign jurisdiction where you need them to be legally recognised. You may require the services of a notary in relation to:

  • Foreign adoption papers
  • Affidavits for use in foreign courts
  • Copies of State documents for use abroad
  • International contracts
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Foreign marriage, divorce and surrogacy applications

What documents do not need to be notarised?

Sometimes appearers will present with documents which do not require to be notarised. There are two main categories of such documents.
  1.  On 16 February, 2019 the EU Regulation on Public Documents entered into force. This means that birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates issued in Ireland by the General Register Office and certificates of freedom to marry issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs do not need to be notarised, legalised or apostilled when presented to public authorities in another Member State. 
  2. Documents which can be sworn by a peace commissioner, commissioner for oaths or practising solicitor in Ireland invariably do not require to be notarised in Ireland. While such documents will occasionally refer to the possibility of them being witnessed by a notary this is almost always in ease of those who may be signing such documents abroad (where a foreign notary will be the only option available). A good rule of thumb is that documents intended for official use in Ireland will almost never require the input of an Irish notary.  As a practising solicitor as well as a notary public Mr Santoro is happy to help in such cases but since there are very many more solicitors than notaries it will usually be easier for clients to attend a local solicitor.
It often helps to ask in the territory in which you plan to use a notarised document if it is necessary for the document also to be apostilled. While the apostille in an invaluable link in the chain of authenticity it is not necessary in all jurisdictions (and, in particular, it is often not necessary in the USA for a notarised document to be accepted as valid). 


What documents cannot be apostilled?

Some documents either cannot be notarised or, if notarised, cannot be apostilled. These include the following:
  • Documents which are demonstrably false or misleading in any way cannot be notarised. 
  • Sworn statements made by persons who are not resident in Ireland may be capable of being notarised but cannot be apostilled by the Department of Foreign Affairs. 
  • Corporate documents relating to foreign companies or ones which do not demonstrate a connection to Ireland on their face (usually by stating the registered office at an address in Ireland) may be capable of being notarised but cannot be apostilled.
  • A notary should be able to certify that a copy of a foreign public document (e.g. a passport or a driving licence) is a true copy of the original if that original can also be presented for examination but the Department of Foreign Affairs will not apostille such a document. 
  • Certificates evidencing foreign diplomas or other qualifications can also be certified by a notary to be a true copy of the original if that original can also be presented for examination but the Department of Foreign Affairs will not apostille such a document.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs will not apostille a multi-page document which has not been permanently bound because of the risk that pages may be removed and replaced.