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Gosh, it’s hard work being a nimmigrant

I’m selling my mama’s farm. Yeah, I don’t really want to talk about it. I got an offer I could, but really shouldn’t, refuse. She’ll come back to haunt me for this, I swear.

Anyway, the lawyer wants the papers notarized and FedEx’ed back. Easy, right? Pff! No.

I cruised by my bank — bank managers are usually notaries, right? — pff! No. The teller didn’t even know what a notary is. The local solicitors knew, but didn’t have one on staff.

Turns out there are only, like, 900 notaries* in all of Britain. The nearest one was miles and miles away. By appointment only.

He was nice enough. Semi-retired corporate lawyer. He explained why they’re so scarce — to start with, they’re usually lawyers, and then they get three years of specialist training in things like Roman law (!).

I told him my grandfather was a notary and the bar wasn’t so high in the States. In the old days at least, all you had to do was get five people to swear you were a pretty good guy.

Anyway, he made me swear on the Bible! Twice! Then he stamped everything and sewed my deed together with green ribbon and charged me £80 — which is, like, $120. Phew.

But at least shipping it back with be a breeze, right? Pff! No!

*That isn’t including the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London, which are lawyers who speak multiple languages for some reason.


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: August 7, 2014, 9:52 pm

$120 !!!

Well, at least you didn’t have to have five witnesses co-sign it in green ink.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2014, 9:59 pm

McGoo! How you been?

Comment from MikeW
Time: August 7, 2014, 10:08 pm

Long time ago I was working in the Netherlands as I contractor for NATO for a bit. As executor of my mother’s estate (back in Ole Virginny) I needed to get some papers notarized. I had to drive to the American Consulate in Brussels to get that taken care of. Blew a whole day, there and back. Pff^2!

No, I never did take a liking to the local cheese while working in the province of Limburg.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2014, 10:25 pm

Yeah, the real estate agent suggested I should go to the consulate in London. That totally wasn’t going to happen.

Though the notary did say they used notaries a lot more on the continent, so I’m surprised they were scarce in the Netherlands.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 7, 2014, 10:35 pm

At least you didn’t need the Sorcerer’s Guild.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 7, 2014, 11:04 pm

You quaint old fashioned things! Notaries?! What are you all, French?

Apparently just about everything has to be notarised sur le continong I’ve only ever once needed anything like that – some affidavit I had to swear for a court case (not guilty yer ‘onor! Them ducks never ‘ad no feet in the first place! Besides, I was down the sett at the time and there’s 15 uvver badgers what’ll swear to it!’).

Oh, well… in any case I hadn’t a clue where to look for one of these exotic creatures and could hardly believe it was really necessary.

Her Stoatliness insists you have to do some ritual dance in front of a blood-sucker in his office when you buy property in the States. Is this true, or has the medicinal rub she keeps hidden in her desk drawer finally got to her?

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: August 7, 2014, 11:21 pm

We have notaries in Canada too.

Comment from Deborah
Time: August 7, 2014, 11:57 pm

When Husband sold his farm, he had to have all sorts of documents notarized, but mostly to prove that he was who he claimed to be. We were 600 miles from where the farm was.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:02 am

Uncle Badger – yeah, we have to go get things of various sorts notarized fairly often

But…there is always one in every bank, many stores, the post office, and even (if you’re lucky) a neighbor or relative. My sister is (was) one. I wasn’t supposed to use her – being a relative – but I did once or twice. She got a dinner out of it each time and no one was the wiser. 🙂

And..normally they don’t charge any fee at all. Sometimes banks hit you for $10 US

Stoaty – I’m fine, busy, and happy. Looks like I might get a new Titanium Knob(tm) for my right hip next Spring – to match the left one I got in ’07. Could be worse!

Hope you are the same – except for the hip!

BTW: I still read you daily … still love the site!

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:07 am

Uncle Badger:

Here in the Disunited States, all Notaries really do is be someone with official standing who attests that they have checked your ID to show that you are the person who you claim to be when you sign a legal document that could be placed in evidence later in a court case. Here in Colorado, they have even gone to rubber stamps instead of the embossed seal. They record everything that they notarize, and the journal is subject to subpoena.

I suspect that HM Notaries are a chapter of the Worshipful Guild of Leeches.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:10 am

Good to hear you’re going strong, McGoo. I worry when somebody goes silent. I’m paranoid like that.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:11 am

Geeze, I needed a notary when I began volunteering at my kids school!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:14 am

Thanks, McGoo and SB – very interesting!

I can’t imagine why we have made it so difficult to become one – nor why they don’t seem to be required here yet are so needed elsewhere. Witnessing legal documents seems to be quite a casual affair here. ISTR I needed something witnessed shortly after I bought Badger House and simply got the next door neighbours to do it. No, not Flossie and Fanny the sheep…

Good luck with the second Titanium, uh, Knob, McGoo. And yes, SB – leeches indeed.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:48 am

SB: Leeches and Apothecaries?

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 8, 2014, 12:49 am

Seriously? My freakin’ aunt was a notary.

I’m with Subotai, sounds like notaries in Great Britain are some kind of secret guild or specialized super protective group that charges extravagant prices.

Comment from PatAZ
Time: August 8, 2014, 1:05 am

That’s quite a little pocket change for the amount of work involved for the notary/lawyer. I learn something new from you just about every day. My bank does it for free for account holders.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 8, 2014, 1:46 am

They’ve stopped requiring notaries in a lot of places now-a-days (over here in magical Obamaland), mostly because it’s trivially easy to get even a blank sheet of paper notarized if you know somebody.

Comment from Nina
Time: August 8, 2014, 2:58 am

The notary who witnessed me signing approximately a thousand documents to buy this house cost me a hundred dollars, but I didn’t get any fancy deed sewing. I feel cheated.

Comment from lauraw
Time: August 8, 2014, 2:44 pm

I am a notary publicks. The purposes of notarizing are these two, mainly:

1) Are you who you say you are, that you are signing this? Let me see that ID.

2) Do you swear you are doing this un-coerced and of your own free will? No midget gangster behind you with a baseball bat? *peers around*

3) Do you swear (and yes, I must make them take an ‘so help me God’ oath and raise their right hand) that this statement you are attesting to, is the Truth? Because, a lie on paper is just a lie; but a notarized lie is committing perjury before an officer of the State. So now this paper that you signed, it has teeth and can bite you.

OK, so three.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 8, 2014, 3:30 pm

I have Mom’s old notary embosser.

Nobody ever looks at the date.

Comment from Jon
Time: August 8, 2014, 5:04 pm

There are still Scriveners in London? Great googly-moogly, I hope they have one named Bartleby! That was one of the best things I was forced, er, encouraged to read in High School.

I know a couple of Notaries. I think someone just got the title just recently, in fact.

Comment from MikeW
Time: August 8, 2014, 7:34 pm

Here’s a little diversion I’m sure you’ll love, Swease. Only a couple had I seen before. The last one… Yikes!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2014, 10:40 pm

Nice find, MikeW. Those ads are the kind of thing I bang on about — you get a better sense of history spending time with things *from* another era than reading a modern author writing *about* another era.

Sanitized tapeworms. Oof.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: August 8, 2014, 11:15 pm

One can only hope that the British notary meets the requirements of the State of, what, Tennessee? Having documents sworn to outside the US can sometimes involve abstruse rituals (we’ve had to deal with it once or twice in my practice, although primarily with respect to residents of Italy because my city has a large population of folks whose ancestors came from Italy, and every so often someone still has relatives there).

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: August 10, 2014, 2:18 am

In Texas, you can’t become a notary public if anyone has ever offered you a bribe to do so. So my college friends and I can’t be notaries because we each offered each other a crisp $1 bill to become notaries.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: August 11, 2014, 12:36 am

Only times I needed a notary were filing local election papers and that one time I had unclaimed property escheated in another state (I think about $90). I personally know two notaries, and assume that banks and law offices keep one around.

In my experience with estates and inheritance, “scrivener”, among its other meanings, is a person who performs the act of writing a will for somebody (-the “testator”).

Comment from mojo
Time: August 11, 2014, 5:22 am

Scrivener sounds cooler than enscriber

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 11, 2014, 9:02 pm

Last time I needed something notarised it was only £50, but he was basically the one notary in the whole of the Isle of Wight and in the next town over from my mother. Load of bloody nonsense. Fortunately for things like birth certificates etc. there is an official UK government apostille/legalisation service, but it’s a long way from free. The police certification service (for criminal background checks) is run by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). And as any fule kno, ACPO is a private entity operating under the aegis of government. Nice little earner they’ve got going.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 11, 2014, 9:48 pm

The notary told me that documents going to the Continent frequently needed a notary AND an apostille. And stuff going to Qatar need both of those plus a seal from the embassy that costs a freaking fortune.

I gather most of his notary business is kids applying for jobs abroad.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 12, 2014, 2:30 am

Yes, I’ve had to pay up to £175 per document in the past. Notary, then FCO, then Consular stamp.

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