Notarization in Canada - Things to Consider
Notarization is a very important step as, without it, Global Affiars of Canada ( former Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) will not authenticate public documents. Originals or photocopies can be notarized and authenticated by DFAIT but it is important to verify first with the respective foreign Embassy/Consulate what they would accept for legalization.
In Canada several professions such as Professional Engineers, Medical Doctors and School Principals can certify certain documents (mainly identity documents) for various applications to the government agencies (e.g., application for overseas police certificate) but in general only the following can perform notarization for subsequent document authentication and legalization:
- Commissioner of (for) Oaths
- Notary Public
However, the relative "power" for each of the above title is regulated by provincial statutes, and it usually differs from province to province. For example, a notary in BC has far more "power" than a notary in another Canadian province with the exception of Quebec where there are no notary publics but civil-law notaries (latin notaries) who can offer a much wider range of legal services. The below table is a rough approximation of differences between commissioner of oaths and notary public in Canada. Students-at-law, lawyers, solicitors, barristers can act as both commissioner of oaths and notary public but it is generally much cheaper to use a commissioner for oaths or a notary public.
|Title||What Can Do||What Cannot Do|
|Commissioner of oaths||Only has authority to administer oaths, take and receive affidavits, statutory declarations and affirmations. Limited to provincial authority only.||Commissioners will not sign wills, powers of attorney, divorce, separation custody, theft, financial or real estate related documents.|
|Notary public||In addition to authority of the commissioner of oaths, a notary public has much broader authority, a notary public can "notarize" copies of documents (verify as a true copy), receive and write: a contract, obligations, testament, transactions and other voluntary act as well as an official deed.||Cannot represent you in courts|
Certain foreign Embassies/Consulates in Canada can also provide notarial services and certified translations by their Consuls with the exception of a few (e.g., UK).
Please note that some foreign Embassies/Consulates require proper binding/sealing of documents to minimise/prevent frauds of replacing/inserting pages. Canadian notaries are often not required to do anything more robust than a stapled paper corner so please contact us in advance if you have any questions.
How to Find a Commissioner of Oaths or a Notary Public in Canada
To find a commissioner of oaths or a public notary, you can use Internet or Yellow Pages. You may also obtain additional information on the website of the provincial Justice and Solicitor General.
If you live in British Columbia, you can search for a notary public on the website of the Society of Notaries Public of B.C. In Quebec, check out the website of the Chambre des notaires du Quebec. Unfortunately, not all provinces have a Society of Notaries Public.
Generally, clients can notarize their public documents themselves as especially for attestations of signatures their physical presence will be necessary to verify their identity.
Nonetheless, in some cases clients prefer to delegate certain tasks to us. Thus, Canada Legalization Services can provide the following services (via commissioners-of-oaths, notary publics or foreign consuls):
- Certified true copy of the original (original returned after completion of our services).
- Authentication and certification of foreign credentials (prior authentication may be necessary in the country of issuance).
- Authentication at Global Affairs of Canada ( former DFAIT).
- Legalization at a foreign Embassy/Consulate.