Not all countries have a notary to verify documents as they do in Spain. Here the Spanish notary is a very much respected individual whose office carries a clearly recognised ‘Notary’ sign and who trains for several additional years to qualify for the title. Most people associate the notary with Spanish power of attorney but their activities go much further than that.
The notary is a professional within the Spanish law system and his/ her main function is to certify Spanish documents ensuring that private agreements fulfil certain legal criteria. The Spanish notary is involved in legalising agreements and contracts and uses a stamp and signature to endorse them.
The main difference between a Lawyer and a Notary is that the Lawyer deals with private documents such as contracts and might represent a client, for example in a law-suit. A notary, on the other hand, brings a document into the public domain.
The notary has a strict code to abide by and the Law for Notaries defines his function and the extent of his or her authority. The notary is qualified to a very high level and must pass some very strict exams to achieve this status. They must study initially for five years at University to obtain their lawyers’ degree. They then pass an additional competitive examination which requires, on average, another three to five years of preparation.
The role of the notary includes:
- Advising parties of the formalities and procedures involved
- Drafting the required documents
- Certifying publicly the facts, acts and agreements that take place in front of him/ her
In the majority of cases individuals can choose their notary, although the notary can only act within his/her own district. The number of Notary offices within each town depends upon the population and the actual placing of the office itself.
Why do you need a notary?
Notaries are an important regulator who can guarantee that the documentation in Spain is correct and would be considered authentic and proven in court. Any document that needs to be entered in a registry, such as the land registry has to be signed in front of the Notary.
Documents that can be signed before a notary include:
- Marital status documents
- Last wills and testaments
- Marriage settlements
- General contracts and agreements
- Inheritance declarations and requests from heirs
- The foundation, modification and separation of companies and partnerships
- Loans, mortgages and other debts
- Acquittals and the discharge of obligations
- Any kind of power of attorney
- Declaration of heirs where there is no will
- Any kind of declaration or statement
The notary isn’t always stuck in the office. They will sometimes be called out to complete a particular service such as being called to hospital to enable a seriously ill person to make a will. They are often present at some very important times in people’s lives. For example, when there is a transfer of property or a company is being formed and needs a constitution.
It might not be a role that we are familiar with in other European countries but the notary carries a great deal of respect in Spain.