Who Can Notarize an International Document?

Many people need to notarize an international document, so they seek the help of a US notary public. However, notarizing foreign documents can confuse notaries, as it is not a standard practice.
If you are unsure whether you are allowed to perform notarizations of the international documents, here is what you can and cannot do.

US Notaries vs. International Notaries

US notary publics have different duties and limitations compared to international notaries. For instance, notaries in many countries have more legal power and can prepare documentation and advise their clients about legal issues. For US notaries, that would be considered a breach of law, as their authority is much more limited, and they cannot provide legal advice.

Can US Notaries Deal With International Documents?

If you are wondering whether you are allowed to notarize a foreign document, the answer is – it depends. Firstly, you must figure out whether your state permits notarizing international documents. For instance, most US notary publics are allowed to work within a state where they are certified. So, they can’t even notarize documents from other states, let alone other countries.

The second vital thing to consider is whether a document in question will be used in the US or another country. US notaries can notarize documents used in the US, but their authority may not be valid in another country.

In addition, a foreign citizen residing in the US may ask a US notary to perform an official legal act they are not allowed by the state laws. However, it can confuse a signer as the act in question is executed by notaries in their home country, which is why they get advice to go to a US notary public.

What if a Document Is in Foreign Language?

A notary public is usually allowed to notarize a document in a foreign language as long as the notarial certificate is in English. However, the general advice is only to notarize documents in a language you understand. The same goes for signatures, as some foreign citizens may use characters you can’t read. This gives more area for manipulation, so it is best to avoid it.

Is There an Alternative for Notarizing International Documents?

If you cannot notarize an international document, there are other options. It turns out that Embassies and Consulates have the authority to notarize foreign documents and confirm their authenticity. That way, a person can use it in their home country to complete a legal process.
There is a somewhat lengthier alternative, but the process guarantees a certified document with the necessary notarization. First, you perform a notarization with a US notary like you usually would. Then you send that document to the Secretary of State’s office and ask them to issue an apostille.
An apostille is a confirmation by the state that the person performing a notarization is commissioned to do that. So, it is a certificate of authenticity that guarantees legality.
Obtaining an apostille may take a few weeks, and you’ll need to pay additional fees on top of notary charges.

Need Help Notarizing Foreign Documents?

If you need help or advice on notarizing foreign documents, Integrity Signers is here for you. We have more than 15 years of experience in the mobile notary industry, with knowledgeable signing agents in every state. That allows us to provide or give advice on more complex services such as notarizing international documents.