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Notary Public
25 Jul

Finding A Notary Public When Traveling Abroad

Notary PublicMany of us travel overseas, but when the need to have important paperwork completed comes, many of us are caught off guard.  Sure, it’s easier to wait until you get back to America to do your paperwork.  There is less room for problems, and it’s much easier.  But, what if there is some time sensitive documents that need to be notarized while you are traveling the mountains of Peru, for example?

Finding a notary abroad
Finding a notary overseas is a different ball game.  A notary in the United States is a common profession. Actually, hardly anyone does notary work full time. They are usually real estate brokers, insurance brokers, or bankers who do notarizations for their clients.  Notaries here only charge a few dollars for their work, and the procedure is fast and usually painless for those who have their IDs and paperwork in order. But finding a notary while traveling could be more difficult. Other countries regard the position of notary public as something high and lofty, almost as prominent as being an attorney in many cases.  The fee will be more expensive, and availability will be harder.  To find a notary overseas, the quickest route is to contact an attorney.  Being a notary outside of the U.S. is a high level position that is often related to the legal profession.  Asking a local chamber of commerce, consulate, or embassy where they recommend finding a notary, or if they provide notary services, is an alternate course of action.

Procedures to Notarize Documents Can Vary
Notary procedures overseas are different and procedures vary from country to country. I’ll venture to guess that it is generally a good practice to have current photo identification and plan to sign the document in front of the notary as a rule. However, what if the notarization you get in Machu Picchu provokes suspicion when it comes back to the states.  Was the notary a real one?  Is the overseas notarization legitimate in the United States?  The squeamishness and prejudices of the document custodian here dictate attention. It matters less what is legal, but more what the custodian of the document likes.  Try to determine the custodian’s requirements in advance.

Find out what the document custodian wants
What is a document custodian?  This is a term that loosely describes the person who ultimately will be receiving and holding on to the document in the long run.  For real estate deeds, the county clerk records it; for other documents, it can vary.  It is necessary to get instructions from whomever you are submitting your paperwork to as to what they want and what they will accept.  If they tell you in writing that the Machu Picchu notary you have in mind can notarize the document and they will be happy, then you are set.  Just make sure that you look like the person on the photo of your ID – with only 20% of the normal amount of oxygen, you might look a bit blue!

Personal Appearance
It’s more or less universal that the signer has to appear before the notary.  So, you cannot be getting a tan on a beach in Malaysia while being notarized by a notary public in New York – sorry.  You either have to find a notary where you are, or wait until you get back home to get your notary job done!

Whatever avenue you decide to take for finding a notary overseas, do your homework and determine the notary’s credentials and fees before hiring them.


About the Author: Jeremy Belmont runs a notary blog and a notary directory called



  • Taylor
    06/20/2012 at 12:23 pm

    Starting July 1st you will be able to get a notarization online if you have a computer with a webcam. A change in the virgina law will allow for Online Notarization. This solves a big problem for Americans abroad who need notarization’s. This will save you a trip to the US embassy or Consulate. Coming soon.

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