Proper identification of signatories has always been an essential part of notarial practice. New Government regulations mean that notaries must insist on even stricter proof of identity.
The UK is a major international financial and legal centre, with a high reputation for honesty and integrity.
Unfortunately that is why financial and professional businesses, like banks and law firms, are attractive to money launderers - criminals who sometimes try and hide stolen money by turning it into legitimate income.
The government has introduced measures:
- To make it more difficult for criminals to make and keep money from their crimes.
- To confiscate proceeds of crime.
- To require notaries and other lawyers to report suspicious transactions to a policy authority known as NCIS (the National Criminal Intelligence Service).
For this reason there are compulsory checks which notaries have to make of their clients which in many cases go beyond the identification standards which notaries have traditionally applied.
Being asked for additional identification does not mean you are under suspicion. The new identification requirements apply to all clients when they are asking notaries to authenticate documents or undertake certain other types of work.
How this affects you:
Notaries have always asked for evidence of a client's identity. In the case of private clients, notaries will now also require proof of address. This means you will have to show the notary some personal documentation that can include:-
- Current signed passport
- Photo-card driving licence
- Birth Certificate
- And for proof of address, a recent gas, electricity or other household bill
If you don't have these documents, you will have to ask the notary to advise you on how best to prove who you are.
For business clients, notaries will (in addition to checking your personal identity) now need to establish that the company or organisation which you represent actually exists and in many cases that you are authorised to represent that company or organisation. In the case of companies or organisations based in the United Kingdom, the notary will generally conduct his own checks to satisfy himself that the company or organisation exists. In some cases (particularly for companies or organisations established overseas) he may ask you to produce certain documents. These might include a certificate of incorporation, good standing certificate or other similar evidence. If the notary has to certify your authority to represent a company or organisation, additional documentation will be requested, for example:-
- Constitutional documents (e.g. memorandum and articles of association)
- Power of Attorney
- Chamber of Commerce certificate
- Board Resolutions
- Authorised signatory book (in the case of banks)
Your notary will be happy to advise exactly what will be required in any particular case.