Notary Public: Fees and How Businesses Can Engage One
Given Singapore’s reputation as a world-class business hub, it is common for business owners to exchange business and/or legal-related documents with counterparties overseas. If you are involved in such transactions, how can you assure these parties that your documents are genuine and valid? The answer: through notarisation.
Notarisation is the process of having a Notary Public certify that documents are authentic or have been validly executed (depending on the situation). This usually arises when a person owns businesses and properties overseas and is involved in matters requiring the execution of documents in Singapore. Alternatively, notarisation may be needed when a person is involved in foreign litigation.
If you are a business owner involved in overseas transactions, read on to learn:
- Who is a Notary Public?
- What is the role of a Notary Public?
- When should business owners engage a Notary Public?
- What should you take note of before engaging a Notary Public?
- How can you engage a Notary Public in Singapore?
- What happens after engaging a Notary Public?
- What are the fees and costs involved in engaging a Notary Public?
Who is a Notary Public?
Notaries Public are Singapore–qualified lawyers appointed by the Board of Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public to notarise documents. They are lawyers who are at least 40 years old with no fewer than 15 years of legal experience. The Notaries Public Act sets out the rules regulating the activities of notaries public in Singapore.
In particular, Notaries Public must be “fit and proper persons” who are currently practising advocates and solicitors in Singapore. Any Notaries Public found to have declared bankruptcy, who have been struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors of Singapore, or found guilty of misconduct rendering them unfit to practise as a Notary Public will have their appointments revoked.
What is the Role of a Notary Public?
Notaries Public usually notarise documents by witnessing, authenticating and certifying the execution of documents. By signing before a Notary Public, you are confirming that the facts contained in the document are true.
Generally, a Notary Public’s role is to prevent fraud and make sure that a person who executes a document does it out of their own free will and voluntarily (i.e. they are not being forced to execute the document).
When Should Business Owners Engage a Notary Public?
You should engage a Notary Public when you are legally required to do so. Notarisation is also often a requirement when you send documents in Singapore to overseas entities.
Below are some examples of situations where you might need to engage a Notary Public:
- Attesting the signature and execution of documents such as deeds, contracts, powers of attorney, incorporation documents, property transfers, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) assignments, and other instruments to be used abroad. For instance, the signing of contracts and deeds in business transactions may require relevant parties to be present at the signing. The Notary Public acts as a witness to ensure that such requirements are met.
- Administer any oath or affirmation in connection with any affidavit or statutory declaration, take or attest any affidavit or statutory declaration;
- Certifying true copies of documents (eg. passports and bank statements): When certifying true copies, a Notary Public has to ensure that the copies are indeed true copies of the original. This is done by a visual comparison of the original documents with the copies;
- Protesting bills of exchange: A bill of exchange is a signed order requiring one party to pay a fixed sum to another party. If the bill of exchange is dishonoured (by non-acceptance or non-payment), a Notary Public can be enlisted to protest the bill; and
- Entering a ship’s protest: A ship protest is a statement that protects shipowners and crew members from liability by declaring that any damage was caused by maritime perils instead of negligence. A Notary Public can help record such statements.
Even in situations where notarisation is not required, the notarisation process can minimise the risk of forgery of documents, and assure business parties that the documents are genuine in nature.
Things to Take Note of Before Engaging a Notary Public
Before engaging a Notary Public, you should check with the relevant authority/recipient on the formal requirements. Here are some procedures to take note of:
Notarisation of documents
The need for notarisation is determined by the party receiving your documents. There is no need for notarisation if there is a mutual agreement to dispense with it.
All notarised documents must be authenticated by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL). This is necessary even if the receiving authority does not require an authentication certificate. With effect from 16 September 2021, the SAL will affix Apostilles (certificates of authentication) for all documents, regardless of the country in which the documents are to be used.
Legalisation of documents
Documents for use abroad may need to go through legalisation, a separate process of document authentication observed by some governments. As of 20 January 2021, the SAL has taken over the legalisation process from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The exact legalisation process depends on whether the document in question is issued by the Singapore government, or whether it is in hardcopy or softcopy. To legalise documents, you will have to submit an online request to the SAL through its Legalisation portal. While a Notary Public can assist you in this step, legalisation can be performed only by the SAL.
Unlike authentication, legalisation is not a fixed requirement. Thus, it is important to check with the relevant entities you are corresponding with on their specific requirements. You may refer to our other article for more information on the process of legalisation in Singapore.
Translation of documents to other languages
If you require translation of the documents, do check if the Notary Public offers translation services. Otherwise, you would need to engage a private translator. For more information on certified private translators, please refer to our guide on legal translation services.
How to Engage a Notary Public in Singapore
Many law firms offer notarial services. If you wish to engage a Notary Public, you can get in touch with our trusted Notary Public lawyers here.
Alternatively, you may do a quick search on the SAL website. The SAL maintains a comprehensive directory of law firms that provide Notary Public services in Singapore. Searches of this directory can also be filtered by languages spoken by the Notary Public.
Always check with your Notary Public on the specific notarisation arrangements. For instance, some firms providing virtual notarisation may include delivery of the notarised documents to your home or office for your convenience.
What Happens After You Have Engaged a Notary Public?
After engaging a Notary Public:
1. Clarify the notarisation requirements:
If you require the notarised documents to be legalised, please inform your Notary Public so that a legalisation request may be made to the SAL. For virtual notarisations, the Notary Public may also assist you in checking whether virtual notarisations are accepted.
2. Notarisation process: To proceed with the notarisation process, you are required to make the following payments:
- Notarisation fee to the Notary Public (this is explained below); and
- Authentication Fee of $85.60 to the SAL
The Notary Public will issue you your Notarial Certification upon payment of the Authentication Fee.
3. Authentication (and Legalisation) at the SAL: Once notarisation and payment are completed, you may proceed to the SAL counter to have your notarised document authenticated (and legalised, if necessary). Please visit the SAL website for more details.
4. For legalised documents, check if your documents are heading to a contracting party of the Apostille Convention (AC): If the country is a contracting party, you may proceed to send the documents straight to your recipient. However, if the country is not a party to the AC, you would have to present the documents to the consular section of that country before sending the documents. To determine if a country is part of the AC, please click here.
What are the Fees Payable For Engaging a Notary Public?
Here are some examples of the fees payable for common notarial services in Singapore (for the full list, see the First Schedule of the Notaries Public Rules):
Notarial execution to any document
|By one person||$40|
|For a second party, to the same document||$20|
|For each additional party to the document||$10|
|For each exhibit marked on or attached to the document||$10|
Certified true copies
|Examining and certifying as to the correctness of the copy of any document (where the Notary Public is required to affix a seal)||$10 for the first page and $2 for each subsequent page|
|Examining and certifying as to the correctness of the copy of any document (where the Notary Public is not required to affix a seal)||$5 for the first page and $1 for each subsequent page|
|Where a notarial certificate and seal are required to be affixed||$75|
|Preparing and completing a special notarial certificate, in addition to the above charges||$75 (No additional charge to be made for each certificate)|
Example of how notarial fees are calculated
For example, if you need to get a certified true copy of one page of your passport, the total fee will be:
$10 (to certify one page of your passport as true copy) + $75 (for the issuance of the notarial certificate) + $85.60 (for authentication of the certified true copy at SAL) = $170.60.
In summary, notaries public are qualified and experienced lawyers who can help notarise your documents. They do so by witnessing, authenticating and certifying the execution of such documents.
Documents that are not notarised may be invalid. This can lead to significant delays during business transactions. Beyond ensuring that documents are signed in accordance with requisite formalities, notarisation certifies that the document is genuine and helps in settling outstanding business applications.
Once again, always check with the relevant entities on the specific requirements for the notarisation and/or legalisation of documents, or if notarisation is even required by the relevant entity. If you require the services of a Notary Public, do not hesitate to use our Find a Lawyer service to get in touch with a Notary Public.
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