In Spain it is very frequent, and even obligatory in some cases, for certain legal documents or contracts to be signed before a Notary Public. But…what exactly does a Notary Public do and why should we go to him to legalise our private documents or transactions?
A Notary Public in Spain, unlike the UK, is a public civil servant who works independently from Lawyers and other public and private professionals in order to ensure that all documents legalized and granted before him or her have been verified, are authentic and in accordance with the Law. Once a document has been signed before a Notary, it becomes a Public document. The Notary´s job is to give public faith that the contents of the document are correct and that the parties who have signed the document understand and accept their content.
The figure of the Notary in Spain
What kind of documents can be signed at the Notary?
- – Power of attorney
- – Legalisation of your passport for NIE application purposes
- – Last Wills
- – Title Deeds of Purchase and Sale of a property
- – Mortgage loan Title Deeds
- – Incorporation of Companies
- – Inheritance Deeds
- – Divorce by mutual agreement (with no children)
In relation to the above documents, some of these, such as a last wills or a mortgage loan Deed, may only be signed at the Notary. The reason of this is that the Notary gives faith that the person who he identifies by his or her passport is the person signing the document and that the signature has not been forged. In this sense, only documents which are granted before a Notary may be registered at Companies House, Land Registry or Registry of Last Wills.
How are Notary Public fees calculated?
Notary fees are set forth by the Notary Association and are based on a scale depending on factors such as number of grantors that the Deed has, type of Deed, number of clauses, number of pages and whether or not the Notary has to travel to assist the client or if the client attends his office (among others).
Who keeps the original Deed?
The original Deed is kept by the Notary and it is numbered on the top of the Deed. This number is called “protocolo” and is stored at the Notary´s office. The Notary may issue a True Copy or a Legalised copy for you upon request. If you lose it, you may always obtain a new copy by returning to the Notary and providing the protocol number and the year when it was signed.
All in all, the role of a Spanish Notary is of great importance for every legal transaction that takes place. However, you must remember that a Notary does not provide legal advice or draft contracts, for which you should seek expert legal counsel. A Notary will verify the authenticity and legality of a document but it is your Lawyer who will provide you with tailor made advice in order to best defend your own rights and interests.