No Joined-Up Thinking In International Documents

A Notary sees daily examples of a lack of “joined up thinking” in foreign requirements.

For UK Doctors requiring visas to settle in Canada, I am required by the Canadians to meet the Doctor, look at their passport and take an example of their handwriting. Particularly if the signature the Doctor makes in my office differs from the signature in the passport, then I will need to investigate a little further before certifying identity and the handwriting/signature was written by them.  This happens regularly; Doctors have to write their signatures so often that some deterioration in legibility is almost inevitable. And yet – if the signature certified by me is not considered by the Canadian Visa officers to be “sufficiently similar” to the passport signature, the forms will be rejected. I.e. – they request a Notarial certificate and then reject it. So, what was the point of that exercise then?

For many countries, persons requiring visas are required to send a copy of their Birth and marriage certificates certified by me and then stamped with the Foreign and Commonwealth Apostille. BUT as I mention in an earlier blog, UK Birth and Marriage certificates are subject to “Crown Copyright” and may not legally be copied. If they are, the FCO will not add its Apostille. I am supposed to buy and pay for new certificates. But those, not being copies, are not what the foreign Country has asked for!

By the way, the FCO rejection of copies of British GRO records has on occasion resulted in their erroneous rejection of FOREIGN copy certificates. It is always worth pointing out to the FCO when a submitted document is foreign that it is not subject to the Copyright rule.

Very recently the Foreign Office has decided that no Apostille can be attached to a Notary’s certificate which attaches an original or copy of medical report which has been signed “pp” the actual doctor. Any such certificate must exhibit the signature of the Doctor – even if I the Notary have spoken to the Doctor and Certify that the report is genuine. This is in effect the FCO reading the Notary’s certificate and making its own judgment about it – acting exactly contrary to their statement on the Apostilles, which says that all they certify is the identity of the Notary.

It does appear that the FCO is very willing to charge its fees, but not so happy to accept any responsibility for performing its duties as set out in the 1961 Hague Convention.

There are anomalies in international Notarial and legalisation requirements all over the world (don’t even mention India!) – And any one of them is a “bear-trap” for the inexperienced

Luckily for my clients, I do have that experience – over 20 years of it. Please do contact me whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation – at or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)