Having Documents Notarized In A Foreign Country?

By
Title Insurance with Frontier Title Group, LLC FL DFS License #E015761
http://actvra.in/4hyg

Notary SealWith the increase in foreign national persons buying and selling real estate (especially here in South Florida) the need is increasing for a deed, power of attorney, or even a bank mortgage package to be notarized in a foreign country.  Here are some basic guidelines to be aware of and plan for:

     The only foreign notary accepted in the United States is from Canada.  All others must be performed at the American Consulate in the foreign country or in the presence of an Apostille in which the signing party is physically located. 

     Follow this link for a list of American Consulates:  http://www.americanconsulate.com/

     Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention.

     Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an "apostille". The Apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country.

     There are currently over 60 member states of the Hague convention and in addition to those countries many other countries will also recognize an Apostille certificate (follow the link to a list of these countries).
     http://apostille.us/Documents/States_Abolishing_Legalisation_Documents.shtml

      If the signing party is in the US at any point during the transaction, have them execute a Power of Attorney before leaving the country.  Trust me, it will save you a lot of time and stress!

     For example:  A buyer lives in Istanbul, Turkey and must execute a Power Of Attorney for his daughter to sign mortgage loan documents on his behalf in the United States.  (Always verify that the format of the Power of Attorney is approved by the Mortgage Lender's underwriting department and the Title Insurance Agent's underwriter before proceeding.)  The documents are sent to the buyer in Turkey who must take them to the American Consulate or make arrangements to meet with an Apostille.  NOTE:  Ther servie that you want an Apostille to perform is to authenticate the person's signature.  They could authenticate the document instead if you are unclear, but your documents will be returned unsigned by the party whose signature you need!  Make sure you are clear about which service you need them to perform:  authenticate the signature

Seal of US Secretary of State     If the party decides to take the documents to the American Consulate be advised that in most countries the person must make an appointment and even then, wait in line upon arrival.  The appointments can be difficult to come by depending on the country...they must be required anywhere from a few days to a few months in advance.  Also note, if the documents require witnesses, the signing party must bring their own witnesses with them to the appointment.

     On one transaction I needed a seller in Spain to sign a deed and a couple of other documents to complete the transaction.  The American Consulat was too far for him to travel so he made an appointment with an Apostille.  In Spain, the fee for the Apostille is a percentage of the sales price of the property!  This property was selling for over $300,000.  Thankfully, this seller had a friend who was an Apostille who wouldn't charge him the fee, but be aware this service can be very expensive!

     Last, but certainly not least, allow enough time for the documents to be returned to the US.  "Overnight" service does not mean overnight for International Shipments.  In my experience it requires 3 days over and 2 days back.  In our technological age, documents can be faxed or emailed and printed in the foreign country, then shipped back.  That cuts down the time frame significantly.  Remember to confirm that if the documents are faxed that the fax machine does not use thermal paper.  Thermal paper fades over time.  If the fax machine does use thermal paper, ask the receiving party to make a copy to serve as the original to be signed.  The copy will not fade. 

     Hopefully these tips will help you in a current or upcomming transaction and help it close smoothly!

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Rainmaker
954,820
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
CNE - ASP - SRES .... Uxbridge Ontario Real Estate

Laurie - excellent information to have at hand ..... you just never know when a buyer or seller for that matter will approach you from out of the country. Ive had out of province buyers buy a home here in Uxbridge with out leaving home to come and actually see it until the deal was accepted. and recently A Canadian family living overseas completed the entire transaction using the phone, fax and Internet to view the property, and complete all the paperwork to purchase the home. They moved back to Canada a few days before closing.

Sep 25, 2010 11:31 PM #1
Rainmaker
190,653
Lois Davies
Century 21 Birchwood Realty, Inc. - Cape Coral, FL
Cape Coral & SW Florida

This information is good to know,  I have a customr living in Germany who is thinking of selling his home here.  Thanks for sharing.

Sep 28, 2010 06:41 PM #2
Rainer
9,474
Laurie Planamento
Frontier Title Group, LLC - Plantation, FL
Your Florida Title Partner

Kathy, isn't it amazing how integrated technology has become in our real estate transactions?  There are so many facets and moving pieces to a closing, I'm happy if my blog gave you a little more information to tuck in your bonnet.  Best of luck. 

Oct 04, 2010 02:39 AM #3
Rainer
9,474
Laurie Planamento
Frontier Title Group, LLC - Plantation, FL
Your Florida Title Partner

Lois, happy to offer my experiences.  Hope they can be of help to you.  You might want to check on how your German seller holds title to the property here in the US.  If it is in their name or a foreign corporation name, advise them to speak to an accountant to apply for an exemption from the FIRPTA tax.  Have them start the process about 60 days or so before closing.  It will save them from having to file a tax return after closing for the 10% that the closing agent will withhold and send in to the IRS.  If they hold title to the property in the name of a US corporation or LLC they shouldn't have a problem. 

Oct 04, 2010 02:45 AM #4
Anonymous
Anonymous
Brentz Thompson

Laurie, I have a question about a power of attorney being executed here in the United States and being sent to a person in Canada.  I see Canada is not a signatory to the Hague treaty mentioned above.  Does this mean that a lawfully executed power of attorney from West Virginia (USA) would not be valid in Canada?

Jun 20, 2012 07:30 AM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
Kevin Burke

Sorry to resurrect this post but for the benefit of those still looking for notarization of Florida documents outside the USA, further to FS 695.03 and Chapter 118 Florida Statutes there is also an option to use a Florida "civil law notary" appointed by the Florida Department of State present in such foreign country. I am a Florida civil law notary based in the UK and I routinely notarize documents for Florida. In fact, where lenders, closing agents, or other parties in other states are requiring documents to be notarized by someone present in the UK, such parties often accept my FCLN signature and stamp once I e-mail them with the relevant statutes and basis for such notarisation outside of Florida.

Aug 06, 2014 09:19 AM #6
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Rainer
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Laurie Planamento

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