What is Attestation?

Posted: 7th July 2014

Attestation is the act of certifying a document by a signature. Where UK documents are destined to be used in overseas jurisdictions Notaries Public are often called upon to certify or “attest” them by adding their signature and seal. The term “notarisation” is typical shorthand for notarial attestation.

In London, the facts to be attested by the Notary Public are varied: in some instances a person signing in their individual capacity may require their signature to be witnessed or “attested”. The London Notary Public will then need the signatory to appear before him in person to sign the document. They will need to identify themselves by their current passport and also show recent original proof of their residential address (original bank statement/council tax bill/utility bill)

In many cases notarial services in London are required where the individual represents someone else, or represents a legal entity – a company, for instance. In such a case their representational authority will also need to be checked; it will need to be proved in documentary form (e.g by showing original Power of Attorney). Where the signatory is a Board Member signing for a UK company then they will need show a Board Resolution authorising the action to be taken. If an individual wishes to sign for a foreign corporate entity then they will need to show background documentation proving the company’s existence and their position within it.

Corporate documentation which is held on public record at the UK Companies Registration Office (Companies House) may also be attested by a London Notary Public. After carrying out a search of the documentation on file, the Notary may issue a certificate to attest the good standing of a UK-registered company. He may also attest as a true record the details on the public file e.g. he may attest a copy of the latest Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name.

Notarial attestation may also require the Notary Public to certify copies of original documents as genuine. This would typically be the case in relation to individual’s academic certificates issued by British universities, which are destined to be used for the purpose of obtaining work visas for foreign jurisdictions.

Notarial Attestation is typically carried out by the Notary attaching a Notarial Certificate to a document, and then himself signing and sealing his Certificate.

Once notarial attestation has been completed it may be necessary for the Notary’s signature itself to be attested. This form of attestation is known as “legalisation”. In the UK, this is carried out by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO attestation of a Notary’s identity and status is called legalisation by “Apostille”. In certain cases legalisation also requires the document to be stamped by the consular mission in London of the destination country.

Once a document has been attested by a Notary Public and his own signature has been attested by the FCO/relevant consular mission the document will be ready to be used overseas.


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