FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS NOTARY PUBLIC SERVICES

What is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is a term that refers to an attorney who possesses in-depth knowledge of a set of legal facts and the processes prescribed therein.  A Notary Public needs to be admitted and authorised by the High Court to witness signatures, draw and attest contracts and statements, and authenticate the validity of certain documents.  This office is held to a higher standard of care than an attorney since the nature of the services they provide is highly ethical and requires specialist knowledge.

What does a Notary do?
Part of a Notary's duty is to screen the individuals who sign important documents for their true identity, their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction, and their willingness to sign without coercion or intimidation. Some situations require a Notary to put the individual under oath, declaration under penalty of perjury that the information contained in a document is true and correct.

A Notary Public has to have impartiality as a foundational value. They need to be duty-bound and thus cannot act in situations with personal interest. The public trusts that the Notary's screening tasks are corruption-and self-interest free. Impartiality also assures that a Notary never refuses to serve a person due to their religion, race, nationality, politics, sexual orientation, or status as a non-customer.

By law, the following documents need to be drawn up by a Notary:

  • Antenuptial Contracts
  • Long-term Leases
  • Servitudes (personal and praedial)
  • Cession of Rights in Sectional Title Schemes
  • Notarial Bonds

A Notary Public is also needed to certify a range of legal documents, including:

  • Marriage certificates 
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Single status certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Powers of attorney
  • Copies of IDs or passports 
  • Educational documents

Other duties can include: Administering the oath or affirmation, witnessing and authenticating the execution of documents for use inside and outside of a country; protest bills of exchange; and preparing ship protests. 

Why do I need to see a Notary Public?

In order to use certain documents in a jurisdiction outside South-Africa, you may be required to have such documents legalised for use in that country. The rationale behind this is that individuals, organisations and government authorities want to know that a document or signature is authentic and when a document comes from another country, they may want an international certification. This is where a notary public comes in. Notary publics have the authority to authenticate and witness documents and signatures on documents. Further steps in the legalisation process shall need to be carried out in order for the document to be used outside South-Africa.
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What are the usual steps involved in legalisation of documents?
  • We receive instruction to draft documents or you post the documents (if outside South-Africa) or come into our office for an appointment with all relevant documents and identification;
  • If required we can assist with the translation of documents;
  • We notarise the documents;
  • We arrange for an apostille certificate or legalisation at The High Court, DIRCO and Local Embassy;
  • We arrange for attestation at the relevant embassy or consulate; and
  • You collect the documents from us or we can forward the documents to you, whatever country you may be in.

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Will other fees apply in addition to the notary fees?

Yes. Other fees shall apply for payment of:

  • 1. Postage or courier fees
  • 2. No Fees payable to DIRCO or High Court
  • 3. Consular fees to the relevant embassy or consulate
  • 4. Additional legalisation requirements that may be required in the country of use.

In order to give you a fee estimate, many things need to be considered such as:

  • 1. Urgency requirements
  • 2. Drafting requirements
  • 3. Level of legalisation required
  • 4. Varying consular fees payable to relevant consulate or embassy.

Once we have received your inquiry, we shall be able to give you an estimate of the total fees and disbursements required for legalisation of your documents.

Note that we shall also endeavour to give you an estimate of the additional legalisation requirements that may be required in the country of use. However, this will only be a rough estimate at best, as different countries have different requirements which are subject to frequent change. Although, you may find in many circumstances that the person, organisation, or government authority requiring the document may agree to bear the costs of further legalisation required in that country.
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Why do I need attestation at a consulate or embassy additionally to natarisation? ?

If you require the document for use in a non-Hague Convention Country, then yes, the document shall need to be notarised, before it is legalised at The High Court or DIRCO then attested at the relevant embassy or consulate.

What does attestation at an embassy or consulate mean?

To use a document in a country that is not a Hague Convention country, you will need to first have the document notarised. The next step will be to have the document legalised at The High Court. The next steps shall be DIRCO and further attestation at the embassy or consulate of the country where the document is to be used. This shall complete the legalisation process in Australia, noting that there may be additional legalisation requirements in the country where to document is to be used.

What is an apostille certificate?

An apostille certificate is a certificate issued by The High Court or DIRCO  certifying that a document has been notarised by a notary public in good standing.

An apostille certificate will be recognised in Hague Convention countries. Provided that your document is to be used in a Hague Convention country, after notarisation, you may present the notarised document to The High Court for an apostille certificate.

This shall complete the legalisation process in South-Africa, noting that there may be additional legalisation requirements in the country where to document is to be used. For the avoidance of doubt, a document that has been notarised and apostilled by The High Court or DIRCO will not be recognised in a non-Hague Convention country.

What do I need to bring to my notary appointment?

You will need to bring with you:

1. identification such as a current passport or identity document;

2. Original documents to be authenticated, certified as true copy or witnessed.

If you are signing documents for and behalf of a corporate entity, you shall need to additionally bring with you original documents to show that you are authorised to execute documents for such entity.

Do I need to come to the notaries office?

If you require us to witness your signature on a document, we shall need to see you in person. If you require us to authenticate a document or certify a document as a true copy of an original, it is preferable if we can see you in person, however, you may instruct us from overseas and we shall not need to see you in person.

Can you assist with the document legalisation process from start to finish?

Yes. We have the expertise to assist with the process from end-to-end. We can:

1. Draft Powers of Attorney, proxies or board resolutions (if necessary);

2. Assist with translation of documents (if necessary);

3. Authenticate or witness signatures on documents;

4. Present the documents to The High Court, DIRCO for legalisation or an apostille certificate (if necessary);

5. Present the documents to the relevant embassy or consulate for attestation (if necessary); and

6. Forward the documents to your location anywhere across the globe (if necessary).

Are there different legalisation requirements for different countries?

Yes. The legalisation process may require different processes as follows (depending on the country where the document is to be used):

(a) Hague Convention Countries – if a document is to be legalised for use in a Hague Convention Country (a country that has signed onto the Hague Convention), the document should first be notarised, before it is taken to DFAT for an apostille certificate. Click here for an updated list on Hague Convention Countries

(b) Non-Hague Convention Countries – If a document is to be legalised in a non-Hague Convention Country (i.e. a country not on the list above such as the United Arab Emirates) the document shall need to be notarised, taken to The High Court and DIRCO to be legalised and then the document shall need to be presented to the relevant embassy or consulate for attestation.

Please note that the above three steps are what one would expect to have to carry out to legalise your documents. However, different embassies or consulates may require additional documents or steps to be carried out. The above is only a basic guide. Please give us a call for a free consultation to work out exactly what steps you shall need to take.

How long will it take to get my documents legalised?

This will depend on:

(a) What you need legalised – if you require us to draft documents for you, we will need to receive your instructions and draft the requisite documents.

(b) Translation – if translation is required, this adds an additional step, which will take more time. We can arrange for a sworn translator to translate the document on your behalf.

(c) If you instruct us on an urgent basis – if you wish for us to legalise the document on an urgent basis, we shall endeavour to push the process through at an accelerated rate. Additional fees and disbursements shall apply accordingly.

(d) If you are overseas – if you are overseas this shall take additional time as we shall need to receive documents to be authenticated, carry out the legalisation process and then forward the legalised documents back to you.

(e) Legalisation requirements in the country of use – there may be additional legalisation requirements that need to be carried out in the country of use, prior to you being able to use it there. These requirements vary from country to country.
Please give us a call so that we can give you an estimate on how long the process should take on an urgent or non-urgent basis.

What does Attestation mean?

After a document has been notarised, if the document is intended for use in a non-Hague Convention country, it shall need to be legalised at The High Court and DIRCO.

The next step is to have it attested at the relevant embassy. Attestation is the final step in the legalisation process. A consulate would normally only consider attesting a document if it was notarised and legalised by The High Court and/or DIRCO.

Attestation is the acceptance and certification by the embassy that it is satisfied with the authenticity of the document presented to it. Once the document is attested, it is then ready for use overseas.

How can I inquire about your document preparation, notary and legalisation services?

1. email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

2. call us on +27 87 0010 733; and

3. click on the contact us button at the top of this webpage page and make an inquiry.

I am planning on moving overseas to live as an expat – what documents might I need?

If you are planning on travelling abroad to live the expat dream you may need certain documents legalised for use in that country. For instance, if you are married and moving to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with your spouse, you should take a fully legalised copy of your marriage certificate with you.

This is so that you may show the authorities there that you are legally married, and as such, allowed to live together. It is against the laws of the UAE for an unmarried couple to live together.

Just as important as your marriage certificate, you should arrange to have your credentials notarised and fully legalised for use in the United Arab Emirates.

Should you have any queries about legalising your documents please contact us for a free consultation.
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Do I need to book?

We are happy to see walk-in clients however do prefer if you book in advance. If you have not booked an appointment you may have to wait until a notary is available.

How long will it take?

The length of the appointment will depend on the nature of the work to be undertaken. Typically the appointment will last no longer than thirty minutes.
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When do I need to notarise documents in South-Africa?

You will need documents notarised if

  • Your document is for use in or has been issued by a country other than South-Africa;
  • You have been specifically requested to do so by the issuer or recipient of your document;
  • You are required to make an oath, declaration or affirmation in front of a Notary Public as opposed to a Lawyer, Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Oaths.
Do I have to make an appointment?

We do accommodate walk in customers at out offices in the Northern Pavilion of Loftus Versveld Stadium as we have a Notary Public in attendance most weekdays. To be safe we suggest you make an appointment to make sure that the Notary is available.
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I need academic documents legalised for use overseas - can you assist?

Yes we can assist with the whole intricate process. Click here to order or get a no obligation quotation.
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What is meant by Apostilled?

If you have been asked by an overseas organisation to provide formal documents of any kind, then you will more than likely require this document to be Apostilled.

Having legal documents Apostilled will speed up the process of having your paperwork recognised and accepted as genuine when presented to overseas officials. A Notary Public is ideally placed to assist you with this – in many jurisdictions indeed, ONLY a Notary can do this.

Once a document has been Notarised and Apostilled by a Notary Public it can be accepted as legally sound in most countries. If you are sending your documents to a Country which is not a member of the Hague Convention get in touch – we will be able to correctly legalise it at the Embassy or Consulate.

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Is a Notary Public an attorney?

Yes, a Notary Public is an admitted attorney who has passed the practical examination in respect of the practice, functions and duties of a notary. This is a very specialised further qualification which few attorneys obtain.

What are the signing requirements for notarial documents?

The requirements regarding how documents are to be signed may vary depending on the destination country. It may need to be signed only in front of a Notary Public or alternatively one or more witnesses may be required to be present in addition to the Notary Public. After being notarised by the Notary Public, the document may need to be apostilled, authenticated or legalised by the High Court of South Africa, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) or other government offices depending on the type of document and the destination country.

What is the difference between a notarised copy and a certified document?

Certified copy:
– Copies of original documents can be certified by any Commissioner of Oaths in South Africa by endorsing the document with a Commissioner of Oaths stamp. This indicates that the document itself is a true copy of the original document.
Notarised copy:
– Copies of original documents can be authenticated by a Notary Public to prove that it is a true copy of the original by endorsing the document with a Notary Public stamp or seal.
The process of authentication of documents involves that the Notary Public verify the original document as well as the copy to ensure that the copy is a true copy of the original and that no amendments or adjustments were made thereto. Once the document has been notarised, the Notary Public issues a collation certificate.

Does a notarised document have an expiry date?

Any notarisation we issue does not expire. However, the authority you are presenting the notarised document to may implement their own time limit on how long the notarised document is valid for.

Can you notarise documents in foreign languages?

If you are signing a document in a foreign language, we can witness your signature on the document, however we will need to be satisfied that you understand what you are signing. Depending on what we are required to certify, we may require additional information including a translation of the document.

Can you notarise foreign documents?

Yes, in many cases, we can notarise documents issued outside of South Africa. 

What is notarisation?

The process of notarisation consists of three parts – vetting, certifying and record-keeping. Notarisations are also sometimes referred to as “notarial acts.”
Notarisation is the official fraud-deterrent process that assures a document is authentic, can be trusted and that its signature is genuine. It also confirms that its signer acted without duress or intimidation and intended the document’s terms to be in full force and effect.
Notarisation is required to enable a specific document to be accepted abroad by courts, registries or other notaries. They will only recognise a document once a notary public has signed it.

The form of notarial certification will vary according to the document and the country in which it is used. Generally, the notary public is certifying the genuineness of the signature on the document, the identity and capacity of the person signing, and, if applicable, their authority to represent the company or entity they are signing on behalf of. In addition, it may also be necessary for the notary public to certify that the document has been correctly executed in accordance with South African law.

This requires an understanding of the formalities of executing deeds and documents. A notary public can also certify true copies of original documents and the truth and accuracy of translations. In all cases, a notarised document bears the notary’s signature and official seal of office.

I am planning on moving overseas to THE UAE TO live as an expat – what documents might I need?

If you are planning to travel abroad to live the expat dream you may need certain documents legalised for use in that country. For instance, if you are married and moving to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with your spouse, you should take a fully legalised copy of your marriage certificate with you.

This is so that you may show the authorities there that you are legally married, and as such, allowed to live together. It is against the laws of the UAE for an unmarried couple to live together.

Just as important as your marriage certificate, you should arrange to have your academic credentials notarised and fully legalised for use in the United Arab Emirates.

Prior to the commencement of employment in the UAE, your employer may need to submit your fully legalised credentials to the UAE Department of Immigration in order to obtain your visa.

How can I inquire about your document preparation, notary and legalisation services?

You may:

1. email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

2. call us on +27 73 686 9078; and

3. Click Here and get a quotation.

4. Click Here to Contact us via the online form or pop into our office. 

What does Embassy Attestation mean?

After a document has been notarised, if the document is intended for use in a non-Hague Convention country, it shall need to be legalised at the High Court (Notary Copy) and the DIRCO. The next step is to have it legalised or attested at the relevant embassy.

Embassy Attestation is the last step in the legalisation process. A consulate would normally only consider attesting a document if it were notarised and legalised by DIRCO.

Embassy Attestation is the acceptance and certification by the embassy that it is satisfied with the authenticity of the document presented to it. Once the document is attested, it is then ready for use overseas.

WHAT IS A NOTARY PUBLIC?

A Notary Public is a term that refers to an attorney who possesses in-depth knowledge of a set of legal facts and the processes prescribed therein.  A Notary Public needs to be admitted and authorised by the High Court to witness signatures, draw and attest contracts and statements, and authenticate the validity of certain documents.  This office is held to a higher standard of care than an attorney since the nature of the services they provide is highly ethical and requires specialist knowledge.

What does a Notary do?
Part of a Notary's duty is to screen the individuals who sign important documents for their true identity, their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction, and their willingness to sign without coercion or intimidation. Some situations require a Notary to put the individual under oath, declaration under penalty of perjury that the information contained in a document is true and correct.

A Notary Public has to have impartiality as a foundational value. They need to be duty-bound and thus cannot act in situations with personal interest. The public trusts that the Notary's screening tasks are corruption-and self-interest free. Impartiality also assures that a Notary never refuses to serve a person due to their religion, race, nationality, politics, sexual orientation, or status as a non-customer.

By law, the following documents need to be drawn up by a Notary:

  • Antenuptial Contracts
  • Long-term Leases
  • Servitudes (personal and praedial)
  • Cession of Rights in Sectional Title Schemes
  • Notarial Bonds

A Notary Public is also needed to certify a range of legal documents, including:

  • Marriage certificates 
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Single status certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Powers of attorney
  • Copies of IDs or passports 
  • Educational documents

Other duties can include: Administering the oath or affirmation, witnessing and authenticating the execution of documents for use inside and outside of a country; protest bills of exchange; and preparing ship protests.