What does it mean to "notarize" a document?

December 10, 2021


What is Notarization

What does it mean to “notarize” a document?

When you submit insurance loss declarations or prepare various declarations or sworn statements for court, for example, there is a step in the process that requires a number of documents to be witnesses by a Notary (or “notarized”). Notarization is a fraud-deterrent process that helps to ensure a document is authentic and ultimately can be trusted. These documents may be relating to a private matter or related to the Provincial Government of British Columbia, the federal government of Canada, or even international matter. Above all, the process ensures that a notarized document is real, that the signature is valid, and that the signer has been identified and is acting with their own will and intention.

How many Types of Notarizations are out there?

While there are millions of forms and documents that require to be notarized, basically there are 2 major Categories of Notarizations:

1. Certifying True Copies of Original Documents; and

2. Witnessing Sworn statements, Declarations, and other various Forms.

If you need a notarization, first you need to ask yourself “which of the above-categories your document fits in”?

If you require a notarized or certified copy of an original document, you will need to bring the original and a copy of that document (or we can make a copy for you). After comparing the original with the copy and making sure that they are the same, we would stamp that document, certifying that this is “true certified copy of the original document”.

However, most of the notarizations are sworn statements or declarations that need to be signed “before” or “in front of” the Notary. Normally, you would need to fill out the details of the document, but DO NOT sign it until you bring it in and have a Notary in our office witness your signature!

What Documents Need To be Notarized?

You may have been advised before by your family to notarize a particular set of documents. As stated above, it's vital that you have a Notary witness you signature and verify your identity to ensure your documents legally stand. A few common examples of what documents need to be notarized are the following:

  • Articles of Incorporation: If you start a new company, these documents are to be notarized prior to sending these documents to a legal governing body.
  • Commercial Leases: Sometimes, the owner of a building wants your documents notarized before you rent a large commercial building.
  • Employment Contracts: Terms, conditions, duties and compensation amounts can be notarized in employment contracts when starting some new positions.
  • Legal Affidavits: This is a sworn statement that can be used in a court of law.
  • Certified Copy (or Copies) of Documents: You may need medical records or transcripts to be notarized.
  • Passport Application Documents: Renewing a passport usually doesn't require notarization. However you may need documents notarized when applying for a new passport.
  • Mortgage Documents: When purchasing, transferring or selling property, there are some mortgage documents which may need to be notarized before they are accepted.

These are just a few examples on what documents need to be notarized. If you're ever unsure, don't hesitate to contact us.

What are the Steps of Notarizing a Document?

A Notary Public is an official who verifies the identities of those who are signing the document, witnesses the signature of the document, and marks it with a “seal”. As part of the process, there are steps to follow to ensure its validity.

1. Verification of identity

A Notary requires identification from anyone who is signing the document. In British Columbia, this includes a government-issued photo identification plus another document that has the client’s signature. The Notary will confirm your ID and then take a scan or make a certified copy for recording purposes.

2. Ensure you are a willing signer

While witnessing your signature, the Notary will look for any signs of undue influence or coercion in order to determine if you are signing out of your own free will and nobody else is forcing you (either directly or indirectly) to sign it. Remember, if the Notary is in doubt that you’re being “unduly influenced”, he/she has the right to refuse witnessing your signing.

3. Ensure you are capable of making this decision/sign this document

Similar to the second point above, a Notary needs to verify that you are of sound mind and capable of making this decision, meaning you understand the document(s) you are signing. The Notary does have the ability to decline validation of the document(s) if you are medicated, intoxicated or generally unable to understand what is happening.

How do I get a document notarized?

To get a document notarized, you can book an appointment and visit a Notary Public, so he/she can witness your signing, by following these steps:

1. Bring your official identification

As mentioned before, the Notary will ask for verification of your identify (that you are who you say you are). In order to prove your identity, you will need to bring 1 official identification with a photograph (driver’s licence, passport, citizenship card, permanent resident card, firearm licence, etc.), and a 2nd piece of ID that doesn’t have to have a photograph (birth certificate, SIN card, credit card, etc.).

2. Bring your original documents (or send ahead of time, to confirm that we can notarize it)

Dependent on the document, we may require a copy sent ahead of time, so we can confirm the price and that we can do it. Be sure to bring your unsigned copy to the Notary and do not sign it ahead of time.

3. Sign and pay your fee

The notarization fee may depend on the type of document, the amount of liability it carries with it, the number of copies that need notarized, and the amount of time required to do it. The payment may be done at the time of signing or via e-transfer, before the appointment.

Why do some documents need to be notarized?

Getting a document notarized means that the signature is legitimate, the person signing it was identified, and he/she was fully capable of signing it and was not under an undue influence from a third party. The work of Notaries is generally in the realm of provincial laws although notarized documents are recognized nationally, and sometimes internationally (if they are legalized and authenticated in a certain way, as required by the country of destination).

How can I find the right Notary Public near me?

When looking for the right notary public to help you with your specific matter, make sure the notary you choose has the adequate experience and qualifications for that specific matter. You can perform your own research into who is best suited to work with you through the “word of mouth” or you can search online to find a Notary Public who has the right experience, positive reviews and ratings, and has the flexibility that suits your needs.

If you have any more specific questions about these matters, you can contact us here. We can answers your questions about notarized documents, certified copy and more at your appointment or even before you come in.

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