What is a Notary Public?

If you plan to do any of the following, you may need the services of a Notary Public:

  • Buy or sell land or property outside the UK
  • Emigrate
  • Marry abroad
  • Work in another country.

There are also many other occasions when you may need the services of a Notary Public.

A Notary Public is an internationally recognised role and is not the same as a solicitor. A Notary Public is a specially trained and qualified lawyer who is permitted to authenticate and certify the execution of documents for use outside the UK. These may include certificates of qualification, identification and marital status or official company documents and agreements. A Notary Public mainly acts as an impartial and legally trained witness to ensure documents comply with official requirements overseas.

Areas of expertise

Notarial Services we provide include:

  • Witnessing the signature of documents.
  • Authenticating (confirming the truth of) facts set out in a document, certifying originals or copies of originals.
  • Assisting with legalisation or consularisation (where documents are required to be legalised by an embassy or consulate or by the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office).

Why Downie & Gadban?

Simon Acworth, a Notary Public since 1983, is to our knowledge the only Notary in the Alton area. He is regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury www.facultyoffice.org.uk and is a member of The Notaries Society. He is able to notarise, certify and authenticate many different types of documents for individuals, companies and other organisations for use abroad.

What is the process?

  • When you make an enquiry, we will ask you the following questions:
  • What documents are involved and how many need to be witnessed and/or certified?Which country are the papers going to?
  • Is an Apostille (stamped official certificate) from the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) needed?

We will then send you a client care email setting out our terms and asking initially for copies of the documents and relevant identification (on the basis that the original documents and identification will need to be produced later). Once these are received and you have confirmed whether or not an Apostille is required, our Notary will be able to provide a quote. If you are happy with this, he will proceed.

If an Apostille is not required, notarisation could take place the same day if our Notary has availability and has received all the necessary paperwork from you.

If an Apostille is required from the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, notarisation could take a week or more (depending on the FCDO’s timescales). You will need to pay a separate fee for the Apostille direct to the FCDO before you see our Notary.

At your appointment you will sign any necessary documents, produce your original ID documents and pay our fee. If an Apostille is required then our Notary will send the documents to the FCDO.

Our fees

We will provide you with an estimate of fees for the provision of our services before starting work. Timescales vary depending on the Notary Service provided. The minimum fee is £100 plus VAT at 20% (not including any fees you may need to make direct to the FCDO).


Notary Services are included in the policy of professional indemnity maintained by Downie & Gadban, which provides cover of a minimum of £2 million.


In the unlikely event you have a complaint about our Notarial Services, please raise it with Simon Acworth in the first instance. Simon will seek to resolve your complaint using Downie & Gadban’s complaints procedure. Please see our complaints policy for further details.


“You have been so kind and considerate at all times. Thank you so much for all your help and guidance that you have given me over the last months. I have been happy and contented that you have dealt with my affairs very professionally.”

Mrs F
Downie & Gadban Solicitors - Simon Acworth

Simon Acworth