Notary Public

The Job and What's Involved

Notaries are members of the legal profession who carry out a range of specialist duties for commercial firms involved in international trade and for private individuals. Their main tasks include:

  • Preparing and witnessing documents for use in foreign countries.
  • Dealing with the purchase or sale of land and property overseas.
  • Acting as legal advisers for people who either live abroad or own property abroad.
  • Dealing with documents needed for immigration or emigration purposes.
  • Preparing documents for a variety of business purposes.

Notaries in England and Wales can also carry out the full range of legal duties, apart from contentious matters and conducting cases in courts.

Notaries' earnings vary enormously. Few people outside London work solely as notaries. Their income is mainly derived from their work as solicitors and most earn between £3,000 and £20,000 from their notarial work.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 800 notaries in England and Wales. The vast majority are also qualified solicitors. In Scotland most solicitors are admitted as notaries at the same time as they are admitted as solicitors, as there is no specific notary training. For more general information on becoming a solicitor, see our Solicitor job guide.

Education and Training

In England and Wales all candidates who wish to become notaries must either have a qualifying law degree or be qualified as solicitors or barristers. They must then complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Notarial Practice. This is offered by the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education by distance learning over two years.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Newly-qualified notaries must practise for the first two years under the supervision of a qualified notary. It is possible to take further courses in languages and foreign law to qualify as a scrivener notary, someone who has traditionally practised only in the City of London.

Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A notary should be:

  • Prepared to work independently and take responsibility.
  • Able to take in and remember a large amount of complicated information.
  • Good at paying attention to detail.
  • Completely honest and reliable when dealing with financial matters.
  • Able to deal with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Your Long Term Prospects

Notaries may become partners in law firms or set up their own companies.

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Get Further Information

The Administration Department, The Notaries Society,
PO Box 226 Melton, Woodbridge IP12 1WX

Government Legal Profession,
Recruitment Team, 11th Floor,
Lower Castle Street, Castlemead, Bristol BS1 3AG
Tel: 0845 3000 793

Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX),
Kempston Manor, Kempston,
Bedfordshire MK42 7AB
Tel: 01234 841000

Law Careers Advice Network (LCAN)

Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane,
London WC2A 1PL
Tel: 020 7242 1222

Law Society of Northern Ireland,
Law Society House, 40 Linenhall Street,
Belfast BT2 8BA
Tel: 028 9023 1614

Law Society of Scotland,
26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7YR
Tel: 0131 226 7411

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