You may need a notary public for many things, such as selling or buying a property abroad, opening a foreign bank account, giving a power of attorney, certified copies of documents such as examination certificates, opening a branch office of your company or business abroad, getting translations of documents certified, if you marry abroad and so on.
The need for a notary public is dictated by the requirements of the country where the document is to be used. For example, if you are not in Italy, but wish to buy a property there, it is usually necessary to give your lawyer in Italy power to deal with the purchase and registration of your ownership.
This is done by means of a power of attorney, which is signed by you, the purchaser, in front of a notary. You cannot sign it in front of anyone else. The notary public will confirm your name and identity and sign the document and seal it with his or her official seal.
Quite often, an apostille is needed to verify the signature and seal of the notary.The document then will usually need to be further authenticated by having the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirm the validity of the notary’s signature and seal. This is done by legalisation or authentication by the use of the FCO’s official certificate attached to the back of the document, known as an apostille. These are internationally recognised due to the Hague Convention.