New Foreign Office (FCO) Practice Enforces Best Practice

A Notary is required to certify the truth of matters – usually execution of documents. Those documents vary from a short sentence on one sheet of paper to documents which might cover hundreds of pages. It is always essential in order to protect you and those persons relying upon your document that, after Notarization, no changes can be made to the document.

It is good practice for any document which is of more than one sheet of paper that it should be firmly bound – this protects the parties who are relying upon it. If a book or long document is securely bound it will be obvious if an attempt has been made to remove a page and substitute a page with different wording.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now incorporated this good practice into its own procedures and has contacted the Notaries Society to tell all Notaries in England and Wales that it will in future refuse to add its Apostille to any document that is not securely bound. For the avoidance of doubt the use of a staple does not fall within the definition of “securely bound”.

This does potentially cause a conflict between the requirements of Notaries in England on the one hand and some foreign jurisdictions on the other. Particularly in USA, Attorneys often request that lengthy documents be returned to them with no staple or bindings at all. Presumably, this is so that they can be sheet-fed into a scanner or fax machine. I have always sought to resist such requests and I am pleased to note that I now have Foreign Office authority in support of my views.

Do please contact me whenever you require your legal documents for use abroad endorsed with the FCO Apostille – email or phone +44 (0) 1138160116