Notaries in the United States versus notaries in Canada – what’s the difference?

April 17th, 2013

US Notaries

In the United States, almost anyone can write a test to become a notary public for the state in which they reside or, in some states, where they do business, and the fees they charge are set by the government.

In New York State, for instance, the term for a notary public is four years, and it can be renewed with a re-application and a renewal fee. The amount a notary can charge to commission an oath or to provide proof of execution is limited to no more than $20.

In Florida, all notaries must complete a three-hour course and have a notary bond. Notaries must also provide an ‘affidavit of character’ and be legal residents of Florida during their four-year term. Florida notaries are allowed to charge a maximum of $10 for most services.

California requires that prospective notaries take a six-hour course and write a state exam, as well as pass a background check before receiving their four-year commission. They must also be legal residents of California and be at least 18 years of age. The maximum fees set by the State of California range from $5 to $20 for most services.

Canadian Notaries

In Canada, the majority of notaries are barristers and solicitors.

To become a lawyer in Ontario, you require a law degree from an accredited law school; you must pass the bar exam run by the Law Society of Upper Canada; and you must article under a licensed lawyer.

There are a few exceptions to this rule: those who require to be a notary public to fulfill the needs of their employment, such as senior government officials, patent and trademark agents, those who work in Ontario-registered corporations involved in international or inter-provincial trade, or individuals employed by head offices of national or provincial unions that engage in out-of-province business, can apply for a three-year commission.

However, non-lawyer notaries are not permitted to run a notary business, nor can they expand their business to include external notary services. Ontario does allow individuals to become commissioners of oaths in order to commission affidavits and declarations, but their powers are limited.

Since the majority of notaries in Canada are lawyers, there are no fee restrictions. As such, Canadian notaries are free to charge whatever they wish.

Red Seal Notary is staffed by a team of highly qualified and experienced lawyers, notaries public, commissioners of oaths, and legal assistants. At our walk-in locations, fees start at $49 for the first notarization and only $10 each for any subsequent notarizations.

To schedule an appointment with Red Seal Notary, please call 1-888-922-7325 or complete our online appointment request form located here.

We look forward to serving you.

22 thoughts on “Notaries in the United States versus notaries in Canada – what’s the difference?

  1. Elsie Greenhill says:

    I have to have a document notarized in Canada. What format do I use send for this process. It is for a deed and
    the signature has to be notarized.

    [email protected]

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Elsie,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      In order for a signature to be notarized, it must be signed in the physical presence of the Notary. This cannot be done remotely. Assuming your signatories are in Canada, you can either request an appointment at our nearest office online, or call (888) 922-7325 to book the appointment. If the signatories are not in Canada, you should seek the assistance of a Notary office in their vicinity.

      I hope this is of assistance.

      • Lynda J. Allen says:

        You did not answer the above question “What format do I use”
        I am looking for the format/wording to add into a document to
        send to someone in Canada and can’t locate your

        • Blake McClung says:

          Dear Lynda,

          Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

          Notarizations, administration of oaths, and similar services are governed by Provincial law in Canada. Formatting and wording can vary between Provinces, just as they do between States in the US, for example. If you are certain the wording in Canada is to be used, you may find an online search for a template of the type of document and the Province to be fruitful. i.e. “sample Affidavit Alberta”

          Generally speaking, the wording required on any particular document will depend primarily on the nature of the document itself, and the jurisdiction where it is to be used. The jurisdiction(s) where it is to be executed may or may not be relevant to the wording required. This is generally determined by legal counsel on the file. If there is no counsel on the file, you may wish to seek assistance from wherever the document is ultimately destined, such as a government office or financial institution.

          I hope this information is of some assistance.

  2. Fabiola Lespes-Predestin says:

    Once an appointment has been scheduled and I attend the
    appointment and submit the document or documents to be notarized
    then how long after that will it take to receive my notarized items? Will
    all this be taken care of on the day of the appointment or will I have to
    leave the documents with you and wait to be called at a later date to
    pick them up? Thank you in advance!

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Fabiola,

      In most instances, when you attend the Notary office the documents will be notarized right in front of you, and you will take them with you when you leave.

      There may be exceptions if, for example, you have a large volume of documents, or if there are unusual requirements that will take a long time for the Notary to complete. If your documents are to be used outside Canada, you may or may not have to take further steps after the notarization. If the person that gave you the documents told you to take them to an “Apostille”, see our Authentication and Legalization services page for more details. If you have any doubts, please ask our customer service staff when you book your appointment, and provide them with details of your concerns.

      I hope this is of some assistance to you.

  3. Melody Jenkins says:

    If a document is notarized in Canada
    are they required to put a Commission
    Expiration Date on the document?

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Melody,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      The vast majority of Notaries in Canada are lawyers, and their Commission is normally for life. There is thus a presumption that the Notary’s Commission is of unlimited duration unless otherwise stated – i.e. lawyers that are Notaries are not required to put an expiration date as they do not have one. Canadian Notaries that have a limited Commission (i.e. non-lawyers) must put their Commission expiry date on all documents they notarize.

      So technically, the answer to your question is no, Canadian Notaries are not required to put a commission expiration date on the document, unless there is one.

  4. Kay says:

    I am in the USA. I have been presented with a Power of
    Attorney which was notarized in Quebec. It only has the
    signature of the notary. There is no stamp or raised seal. How
    do I determine if this was actually done by a notary?

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Kay,

      Although it is normal for documents to be used outside the jurisdiction to have a raised seal or stamp (or both), the Province of Quebec has different rules – like Louisiana, it is based on a civil code.

      It is possible the Notary (or Notaire) simply did not know the document would be used outside Quebec. If you can contact him/her you can verify that they notarized the POA, and perhaps arrange to have them add their seal or stamp to the document if it is required in your jurisdiction. You can search the website of the Chambre des Notaires du Québec at the following url to verify that the Notary is registered as such in that Province: http://www.cnq.org/en/find-a-notary.html. The document may also have been signed by an Avocat, (a lawyer similar to a Barrister in a Common Law jurisdiction). If so, you can search the Barreau du Québec’s members at this url: https://www.barreau.qc.ca/en/directory-lawyers/#!/search.

      You might also have the notarization authenticated by either the Provincial or Federal Authentication office, but that is not usually necessary where you would not normally require an Apostille.

      We hope this information is of some assistance.



    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Laxmanbhai Dobaria,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      We can certainly assist you with having your document notarized in Toronto. Just attend one of our walk in locations with the document and your photo ID.

      That said, unfortunately we cannot advise you as to the legal requirements for your document in India. For advice on these requirements, you may want to seek counsel from an Indian lawyer, the person that sent you the document, or to whom you will be sending the document.

      I hope this information is of some assistance.

  6. Cal says:

    To have a document signed and witnessed in Canada so that it can be recorded in public records in a Florida County – can it be any of the following:
    notaries public,
    commissioners of oaths,
    and legal assistants.

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Cal,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      It is common that documents crossing international borders require a Notary Public, but it is not universal. The requirements for a local jurisdiction are set locally, in your case likely by the County or State Government. You may wish to contact the Public Records office in question to inquire as to their specific requirements. Alternatively, a lawyer in that same jurisdiction may be familiar, and should be able to advise you as to the legal effect of the document as well.

      I hope this information is of some assistance.

  7. Verginia says:

    To have a document
    signed and witnessed
    in Canada so that it
    can be recorded that I
    am alive and well,
    they need a stamp
    from the notary, but
    he doesn’t have a
    stamp (
    commissioner of
    oath) how can I proof
    that it is legitimate?

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Verginia,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      As a general rule, international documents must be notarized. A Commissioner of Oaths normally will not suffice for documents crossing borders. You may have to find a Notary in your area to sign the document in front of her/him. If you contact our customer service staff they may be able to assist you find someone nearby.

      I hope this is of some assistance.

  8. Donald P Miller says:


    I’m a U.S. attorney, who needs to have documents executed by
    several Québecoises and notarized (specifically, acknowledged).
    Kindly let me know Red Seal’s location(s) in or near Beauport, Sainte
    Anne des Monts, Vaudreuil, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Québec City,
    and your per-acknowledgment fee.

    Please privately email me at [************]. Once we’ve
    communicated that way, I’ll also give you my phone number.

    With thanks,

    Donald P. Miller

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Donald,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      We currently only have a Montreal location that is open in the Province of Quebec. For further assistance, please contact our customer service staff through our toll free line, by email, or through the ‘book online’ tab on our website.

      I hope this is of some assistance.

  9. Steve khan says:

    I have an interesting question,I was born
    and raised in British Columbia after
    highschool I moved to the u.s. (as I was a
    dual citizen) I got.university ba of
    business degree then got a real estate
    license in the state of wa,in1995 till 2009
    in 1999 I got a opportunity to buy 3
    liberty tax franchises,,I did liberty taxes
    accounting course, and personally did
    about 5000 personal returns and about
    1500 corporate returns ,also did payroll,
    quarterlies,balance sheets profit and
    loss, account payables & reciables in
    2005 I sold my 3 locations ,and went into
    full time development ( residential and
    commercial)in ,2009 I open a real estate
    and tax consulting business and became
    a notary signing agent,( basically
    witnessing and notarizing loan and
    mortgage documents,all types of deeds
    and promissory notes,purchase and sales
    and businesses contracts ,field
    inspections, so I have alot real estate and
    accounting experience and am currently
    running a accounting and book keeping
    and notary signing business ,now I am 52
    I want to move back home to Vancouver
    b.c can I transfer my notary license to b.c
    and just take an exam as like the real
    estate business,or do I have to do the
    whole 18 month course ?

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Steve,

      As you likely already know, the appointment of a Notary Public is regulated by each Province and Territory in Canada. The Society of Notaries Public of BC regulates Notaries in that Province. You should contact them for their requirements to be appointed as a Notary Public in BC, and to find out if transfers from US jurisdictions are possible. If you are only seeking a limited commission, restricted to certain documents or for a specific organization, you should specify that, as the requirements may be less.

      I hope this is of some assistance.

  10. Charles J. Chiclacos, Esq. says:

    I am an attorney in the United States, in New York and handling an estate
    matter in NY State Surrogates Court. If my research is correct, Canada is not
    a party to the Hague Convention of 1961, and therefore Apostilles of the
    Hague, are not available. There is a provision in the real property law of NY
    (Section 311) … “When a certificate of acknowledgment or proof is made by
    a notary public in a foreign country other than Canada, the conveyance so
    acknowledged or proved is not entitled to be read in evidence or recorded in
    this state unless such certificate is authenticated … ” Taken at face value
    then, it means Canadian notaries are accepted without further authentication
    needed. But this provision pertains to the recording of deeds. I cannot find
    any regerence anywhere that provides for this in other matters, such as
    affidavits to be submitted in Surrogates Court. Are you aware of any
    provision of law on either side of the border, that allows canandian
    notarizations to be accepted in US jurisidctions (Speficially New York)?

    • Blake McClung says:

      Dear Charles,

      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in our website.

      Unfortunately we are not aware of such specific provisions or rules of evidence in New York, nor any other state for that matter. You may wish to consult an expert in rules of evidence in your jurisdiction, or perhaps staff at the court office in question, to see if similar rules apply to the relevant documents to your matter.

      I hope this is of some assistance.

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