What is a “Notary” and why do I need one?

We frequently have inquiries from people about needing a “Notary”.  People are often unsure about what exactly a Notary is and what a Notary does.

The official title for a Notary is “Notary Public.”    In Alberta, the Notaries Public Act is the statute the confirms how Notaries may be appointed.  It also confirms what people are automatically Notaries by virtue of their profession or position.

In Alberta, a person may apply to be appointed as a Notary Public.  The application has to be approved by the government.

However, the following persons are automatically Notaries by virtue of their profession or position:

  1. All practicing lawyers and all students-at-law;
  2. All judges of the Provincial Court of Alberta, all justices of the Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal of Alberta, and all masters in chambers of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta;
  3.  All Members of Parliament from Alberta;
  4. All Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta; and
  5. All Senators who, at the time of appointment, were resident in Alberta.

So, what can a Notary Public do? The most common tasks for Notaries in Alberta involve administering oaths and taking affidavits or declarations, and making notarial copies of documents (usually so that a copy of the document may be used for some official purpose in place of the original).  In addition, persons in Alberta who sign Personal Guarantees (basically, guaranteeing the repayment of a debt for a third-party) are required to appear before a Notary Public to seek a certification from the Notary that confirms that the person granting the Personal Guarantee understands the significant obligations involved.

There is more to the task of being a Notary than simply signing documents and affixing a notarial seal.  Before “notarizing” a document, Notaries must (among other things):

  1. take steps to confirm the identity of persons seeking their services,
  2. ensure proper protocol is adhered to in the administration of oaths and declarations, and
  3. take steps to confirm the validity of any original documentation for which a notarial copy is requested.

These steps are extremely important since the signature and seal of a Notary Public will be relied upon for many official and important purposes.

Of course, we provide the full range of Notary Public services at Patriot Law Group.

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