Legal documents being signed




What is a Notary?

Notaries represent the oldest branch of the legal profession in the UK and are regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Faculty Office describes the main role of a Notary in England and Wales as being to “attest the authenticity” of deeds and other legal documents for use abroad. Duties include:

  • Preparing and witnessing powers of attorney for use overseas
  • Dealing with purchase or sale of land and property abroad
  • Providing documents to deal with the administration of the estate of
  • people who are abroad, or who own property abroad 
  • Authenticating personal documents and information for immigration or
  • emigration purposes, or work visas for overseas employment
  • Authenticating company and business documents and transactions
  • Notarising medical reports and police reports for use in connection
  • with accidents abroad
  • Dealing with documents for weddings abroad
  • Consents to allow minors to travel abroad.

A Notary is also entitled to deal with conveyancing and other non contentious work in England and Wales.

Qualifying as a Notary

There are three stages to achieving qualification as a Notary:

Stage 1

Academic stage

You need to have studied (and achieved a satisfactory standard in) the following subjects:
•    Public & Constitutional Law
•    The Law of Property
•    The Law of Contract
•    The Law of the European Union
•    Equity and the Law of Trusts
•    Conveyancing
•    The Law and Practice of Companies and Partnership
•    Wills, Probate and Administration

This can be achieved through either a UK qualifying law degree or GDL/law conversion, followed by completion of the LPC or passing the SQE assessments, or they could be taken as individual CILEX level six modules.

Exemptions can be applied for if you are already a solicitor in general practice. If you are not a solicitor in general practice, you can still apply for exemption, however you need to demonstrate ‘regular and substantial practice in those areas’.

Once you have fulfilled the academic requirements, you will be granted a Certificate of Exemption from the Faculty Office, which then allows you to move on to the next stage:

Stage 2

Professional stage

The second stage of your qualification is undertaking the Notarial Practice Course (NPC), which is run by UCL as a two-year distance learning course, and entails studying the following subjects:

  • Roman Law as an Introduction to Civil-Law Systems
  • Private International Law
  • Notarial Practice

Once you have completed the NPC, you need to complete a one day Office Practice Course (practical tuition) before your final stage:

Stage 3

Apply for admission

Having completed stages 1 and 2, you can then apply to the Faculty Office for appointment as a Notary and admission to the Roll of Notaries. For this, you will need to have the following in place:.

  • Certificate of completion of Notarial Practice Course 
  • Certificate of completion of Office Practice Course 
  • Certificate of fitness and Certificate of good character 
  • Background check 
  • Insurance – Notaries are fully insured and are bound by practice accounting and other Rules broadly similar to those affecting solicitors 
  • A Supervisor (A practising Notary with over 5 years experience).

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about Notaries and how to qualify, the Faculty Office has a useful guide to Becoming a Notary as well as a more detailed admissions pack.