Notarizing your documents before authentication and legalization

Published on Monday, February 25, 2013

You have found out you need to authenticate and legalize one or more documents. And now you’ve heard that your documents will first need to be notarized? This brief article explains the notarization process as it relates to authenticating and legalizing your documents. If you also want information on the authentication and legalization process itself, you can check out our helpful article here.

What is document notarization?

To have a document notarized means to have a specially authorized person, called a Notary Public, witness the signing of the document. The Notary Public will then place their signature and stamp on the document, certifying that they have witnessed the signature and verified the identity of the parties involved.

Why do I need to get my document notarized before authentication and legalization?

Basically, notarization is the necessary first step to get your documents authenticated and legalized in Canada, as laid out in the regulations established by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Are there documents that do not need to be notarized before authentication and legalization?

Certain documents do not need to be notarized before the Department of Foreign Affairs will authenticate them. This list includes:

  • Original vital statistic documents such as long-form birth certificates, marriage and death certificates
  • Criminal record checks issued by the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa
  • Degrees or diplomas issued by an accredited educational institution, with the signature and seal of the office of the registrar clearly visible, including a full signature, name and title

See the Department of Foreign Affairs website for more detail:

Who can notarize documents?

Notary Publics have authorization to notarize documents. Many lawyers are also accredited as Notary Publics. You should be able to easily find a Notary in your local area.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you need to sign the document in question, make sure you sign it in front of the notary. They need to actually watch you sign the document, so don’t do it in advance.
  • Make sure that the notary signs the document and also has their name clearly printed. The Department of Foreign Affairs will reject a document if they cannot read the name of the notary.

What if I have further questions?

If you have more questions about document notarization and the authentication and legalization process, please feel free to contact us at International Documents Canada (IDC). We would be happy to discuss your particular needs and point you in the right direction.