The Notary’s Role in Ontario Real Estate Transactions: What we can and can’t do

Condo Sale_Downtown Notary

Ready to buy or sell property in Ontario? Property laws vary by province, and so does the extent of what role the notary is able to fulfil in transactions. 

At Downtown Notary we often get requests to prepare real estate transaction legal paperwork for buyers and sellers in British Columbia, Florida and many other places. It can be confusing to know what notaries can do, when in BC or Quebec, for example, a notary has the authority to prepare the legal documentation. The rules for Ontario notaries are different and we want to help you by providing information on what we can and cannot do. 

Here is what Ontario notaries can do:

  • Witness the signing of the real estate transaction paperwork, prepared by a lawyer 
  • Send the notarized documentation back to the lawyer in the other province/state

What Ontario notaries can’t do:

  • Prepare the legal documents, such as an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, Statement of Adjustment, etc.
  • Conduct and review the title search
  • Request other relevant searches, such as work orders, zoning, tax arrears, etc.
  • Receive, review and respond to requisitions
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To complete the above, buyers and sellers will need to retain the services of a real estate lawyer licensed to practice in the province of Ontario. 

At Downtown Notary we can witness the signing of your prepared documentation. We can also send it back to the real estate lawyer you have engaged outside of Ontario.

To have your documents notarized quickly and cost effectively, call or book your appointment online today. 

The Students' Guide to OSAP Affidavits - Updated 2017


Sad to say, but summer is winding down. For the post-secondary students amongst us, it's time to think about course selection, dorm room decor, and something decidedly less fun: OSAP.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program provides student loans and grants to post-secondary students, and for many an OSAP loan is essential for getting through the academic year. But for a student to get their loan, they have to go through the application process, which is about as fun as being in a forest without a compass. If you're like I was and go to a school that has a financial services department that is as organized as a five year old, then it is even less fun: like being in a forest riddled with poison ivy without a compass and WINTER IS COMING.

So how can you make the OSAP application process go as smoothly and stress-free as possible? Here are some tips:

  1. Read the application guide CAREFULLY AND CLOSELY to understand what supporting documents your application requires.  Unsure what you need to submit? Contact your university or college's financial services department. 
  2. If you have applied to OSAP before, make sure you have copies of the supporting documentation you provided with your previous applications.  I was asked to provide the same darn letter three years in a row and being able to print it and send it off saved me time and stress.
  3. PAY ATTENTION TO DEADLINES.  OSAP is not forgiving if you miss the application deadline, so make sure you know when everything needs to be submitted and follow through. Again, if you aren't sure about what deadlines apply to you, contact your university or college's financial services department.

In certain circumstances, you will be asked to submit an affidavit with your OSAP application as proof of your marital or parental status. An affidavit is a document that is sworn (i.e., that the contents of the affidavit are true) and signed before a notary public, like Downtown Notary. 

OSAP applications require affidavits if you are any of the following:

  • In a common-law relationship: You will need to provide an affidavit that is sworn and signed by you and your spouse confirming that you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least three years or are living together in a conjugal relationship and raising any children of whom you are both the natural or adoptive parents.
  • Separated: If you are separated but do not have a separation agreement, you will need to provide an affidavit detailing the date of separation. If you also have children, the affidavit must include the names and birth dates of your child(ren), the custody arrangements for your child(ren) and confirm that your child(ren) will be living with you full-time during the academic year.
  • Widowed: You will need to provide an affidavit confirming that you have children who will be living with you full-time during the academic year and includes the name and date of birth of your child(ren).
  • Single Parent/Guardian: If you have never been married but are a single parent or guardian of your child(ren), you will need to provide an affidavit confirming that you have children who will be living with you full-time during the academic year and includes the name and date of birth of your child(ren).

Affidavits sound more complicated than they really are, but unfortunately, OSAP does not provide any sample or blank affidavits that you can fill in yourself.

If you require assistance with an affidavit for an OSAP application, Downtown Notary can help. We can draft and notarize your OSAP affidavit for $45 (this includes a 25% student discount). Save time, money and hassle with our one-stop shop for OSAP affidavits - contact us today!

Back to the Future: Why Notaries Have to Watch You Sign in Person

One of the things that we here at Downtown Notary HQ get asked a lot is: Does the notary really need to witness the person signing in person, or can it be done remotely? Isn't there an app that could be used instead? Couldn't the notary witness the person signing over Skype or FaceTime or some other wonder of the 21st century?

The answer to all of those questions is no. While the laws in some other jurisdictions permit notaries to do things like witness electronic signatures or conduct notarizations remotely, the law in Ontario requires that a notary witness signatures in person or inspect the physical copies of documents in order to complete any notarization.

Yes, we know that this is extremely old-fashioned and that Ontario needs to get with the times. The last time the Ontario Notaries Act was revised was in 2001, when electronic signatures and video calls were still years away.

So, what can you do when you want an easy and convenient way to get something notarized that won't take hours of time? Call Downtown Notary. Our flexible hours, convenient locations and quick and easy processes make getting something notarized simple and painless - even when it's done the old-fashioned way. Contact us for more information - we're here to help!

Why You Need a Power of Attorney - Yes, You!

Usually, we here at Downtown Notary attempt to be somewhat humorous in our blog posts, because let’s be honest, notary stuff is typically not the most interesting.  In this blog post, we are going to take a more serious turn to discuss something that is very important to us: powers of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else - your “attorney” - the power to act on your behalf.  In Ontario, there are three kinds of powers of attorney - a power of attorney for personal care, a continuing power of attorney for property and a non-continuing power of attorney for property. In this blog post, we will only be discussing powers of attorney for personal care and continuing powers of attorney for property. 

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A power of attorney for personal care lets your attorney make personal care decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapable of making them for yourself.  Your attorney becomes your substitute decision-maker for making personal care and medical decisions, such as whether you will receive or decline certain medical treatments. A power of attorney for personal care ensures that a person you trust is making important decisions about your care, and will also hep to make sure that your personal care wishes are respected.

A continuing power of attorney for property lets your attorney manage your financial affairs and allows the person you name to act for you even if you become mentally incapable. This includes managing your bank accounts, making bill and rent payments and making purchases on your behalf. A continuing power of attorney for property means that a person you trust will be able to oversee your finances when you are unable to.

For many of us, ourselves included, talking about, let alone planning for, some of the more difficult stuff in life - what happens to us when we get sick or otherwise become unable to care for ourselves - is very hard. Maybe we feel that we have lots of time to figure that out, or perhaps there is a bit of denial that we will ever need to deal with a situation like that.  Maybe it’s just not something we want to think about.

Unfortunately, not taking the time to plan for the what-ifs when we are most capable of planning for them often means that by the time our situations change and we need someone else to take care of our personal care and finances, making powers of attorney may be very difficult or no longer possible. The result is that we or our friends and family are left scrambling to figure out how to pay our bills or make sure our medical care wishes are respected. This makes difficult situations even harder for everyone.

We here at Downtown Notary want to encourage you, maybe even challenge you a little bit, to start talking and planning for the what-ifs now. A great place to start is making powers of attorney. Creating powers of attorney is a very easy and simple way to start planning for the more difficult what-ifs in life, and will give you piece of mind knowing that someone you trust will be able to take care of your personal care and finances when you are not able to.

In Ontario, the Ministry of the Attorney General has created a free, very simple, easy to use power of attorney kit that contains templates for both a power of attorney for personal care and a continuing power of attorney for property.  All you need to do is properly completed and sign the documents and have them witnessed by two people who are not your family members and they will be legally binding.

We recommend that you have your powers of attorney witnessed and notarized by a notary public. Firstly, notarizing your powers of attorney assures others that the signature on the documents is genuine and the documents are legitimate. Secondly, many financial institutions will not accept powers of attorney for property unless they are notarized. We suggest that you contact your bank or financial institution for more information on their specific requirements for validating continuing powers of attorney for property.

This is a very high level overview of powers of attorney. For more detailed information, we suggest you read the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee’s “Powers of Attorney and Living Wills: Some Questions and Answers”.  Please also be aware that this blog post does not in any way constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for speaking to a lawyer. You may wish to speak to a lawyer regarding any specific questions you may have about powers of attorney.

If you want to have powers of attorney notarized, we can help! Contact us or book your appointment online.

What (or Who) is a Guarantor for a Passport?

We often get asked whether our notaries can be guarantors for passport applications. Yes, we can - but you probably don't need one!

A guarantor is someone who guarantees something.  To answer our own question, a guarantor for a passport application is someone who confirms the identity of the person who is applying for a passport.

Until just a few years ago, a guarantor had to be someone who was in one of the professions or occupations accepted by Passport Canada, like a doctor or lawyer.  Passport Canada would be able to verify the identity of the guarantor through membership directories of those professional or occupational groups.  

Passport Canada now allows persons who are 18 years older and hold valid Canadian passports to be guarantors.  A guarantor has to have known the applicant for two years and be accessible to the passport program to answer verification questions.  

Easy, right? Well, mostly.

Sometimes, it's impossible to find a a person who meets the requirements to be a guarantor for a passport application. In these cases, it's still possible to get a passport - but you'll need to complete a form PPTC 132 "Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor".  The form is not available online (we learned this the hard way), but can be picked up from any passport office.  The "Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor" form must be sworn to or declared before, and signed by, a notary public or commissioner for taking oaths.

For more information on how to get a Canadian passport, visit the Government of Canada's webpage on passports.  Want to know more about our notary services? Call us at 647-799-3531 or email us at  

What is a Certified True Copy?

This is a question that we get asked a lot. Like many legal-ish terms, it seems pretty straightforward but is just unclear enough that it’s hard to be sure.

A certified true copy of a document is a copy that has been verified by a notary as an exact copy of the original document. Common types of certified true copies are copies of identification, like birth certificates, passports and driver’s licences, and are frequently required for applications for immigration and professional certification.

It works like this: the notary closely compares the original document and the copy. Once the notary is satisfied that the copy is real, they write (or stamp) on the document “Certified True Copy of Original Document”, sign it, date it and stamp it with their notary seal. Voila, a certified true copy.

Need a certified true copy? Let Downtown Notary help! Call us at 647-799-3531 or email us at


Notary Services at Toronto Pearson International Airport

Downtown Notary is pleased to offer mobile notary services to the Toronto Pearson International Airport on Saturdays and Sundays. Whether you need a consent to travel letter, an emergency passport application, or any other kind of notarized document, we will be there to help.  Mobile services to Pearson Airport are $200 plus the cost of notarization or commissioning. Call us at 647-799-3531 and never miss a flight again!

Hello, Leslieville!

Since opening in October 2014, Downtown Notary has helped hundreds of people with our affordable and easy notary services. In just over a year, we have grown from one location on Queen Street West to four locations all across Toronto to meet the needs of our clients.

To serve our customers even better, Downtown Notary is excited to announce that we will be offering our notary public services in Leslieville at Queen Street East and Logan Avenue. Appointments will be available from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 9 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm. As always, we will continue to offer mobile and house call notary services in east Toronto.

 Hello, Leslieville!

Hello, Leslieville!

The Downtown Notary Guarantee

Our experienced notaries have helped hundreds of people with their notary needs. Name a document, we've notarized it. We strive to provide all of our customers with the highest quality customer service possible, and we think our clients agree.

We take our responsibilities as notaries seriously. That's why Downtown Notary guarantees all of its work: we will correctly notarize your documents, or we will redo them for free. It's that simple.

It's important to note that it is the client's responsibility to ensure they are bringing the correct documents for their intended purpose and that they fully understand the requirements.  That's why we strongly recommend that you read the fine print on your documents before your appointment with us. If you still aren't clear on what you require, it's a very good idea to check with the appropriate organization or person. For example, if a solicitor is helping you with the matter, make sure to get clear instructions from them.  Or if it's an immigration document, check with the immigration department of the country to which you will be submitting it.  If you're not sure who to check with, we will do our best to help you figure that out if you contact us.

Notary Public Services in Spanish

Did you know that Downtown Notary Toronto offers services in Spanish? If you have questions regarding Spanish language documents or if your preference to meet with someone who is fluent in the Spanish language call us today to ask about our services, we would love to hear from you!

Downtown Notary Toronto es un asequible servicio de notario confiable  y móvil funcionando en el centro de Toronto. Estamos disponibles en la actualidad para las citas en cuatro lugares que son Yonge y Bloor , Queen West, el distrito Financiero y Forest Hill. También estamos disponibles para visitas a domicilio y ha u oficina si esa es su preferencia.

Con nuestros horarios extendidos en las noches y los fines de semana y nuestros servicios móviles estamos a la orden para asegurar la máxima flexibilidad a nuestros clientes. ¡Como pueden ver, en Downtown Notary Toronto también se habla español, asi que si su preferencia es por un notario de habla española llámenos hoy para reservar una cita ! Nuestro número de teléfono es 647-799-3531. Tambien puede contactarnos por email:

¡Downtown Notary Toronto les desea todo lo mejor durante esta época de fiesta y también un muy feliz año nuevo! ¡Esperamos hablar con usted pronto!


The Places We'll Go: A Guide to Our Mobile Notary Services

We here at Downtown Notary understand that life is busy, and it isn't always easy to fit in a trip to a notary's office on top of all the other things you may have going on.  That's why we offer mobile notary public services almost anywhere in Toronto. Leslieville? You bet. North York? Yep. Dundas West Village and the Danforth? Check! You name it, we go there. 

Because we are fully mobile, we can offer all of our services in any part of the city, whether it's at a business office, home or apartment, or another location. We are also able to securely and safely accept credit card, PayPal and electronic money transfer for mobile appointments.

We offer mobile notary public services at locations like:

  • Hospitals and nursing homes, including St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Sick Kids Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Women's College Hospital;
  • Bank branches and financial institutions, such as RBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank and BMO;
  • Hotels, including the Park Hyatt, Drake Hotel, Gladstone Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Shangri-La, Westin Harbour Castle, SoHo Metropolitan Hotel and the Marriott;
  • Churches, synagogues, and other places of worship; and
  • Coworking spaces and community centres; and
  • Real estate offices.

Click here for more information on our mobile notary services. Or you can contact us for more information.

Downtown Notary is committed to being an accessible business. Mobile services will be provided at no extra charge if they are required to accommodate persons with disabilities.

What's New at Downtown Notary - Summer 2015 Edition

Downtown Notary Toronto is a small, independent and local business that first opened in October 2014.  Since then, we've seen the business grow and expand in ways we never expected. As our company continues to evolve, customer service remains our number one focus. Our customers often tell us how easy our notarization process is - and that's how it should be!

Summer has been extremely busy here at Downtown Notary (although we've managed to fit in a beach day or two in here or there). We are excited to share two new developments:

Downtown Notary now has a new location: Downtown Notary Forest Hill at Bathurst Street and St. Clair West.  This location aims to serve clients in the midtown Toronto area.  It is a quick walk from St. Clair West Station, or can be easily reached on the 512 St Clair streetcar or the 7 Bathurst Street bus. This location will provide all of the same great services as the other Downtown Notary locations at the same affordable prices.

Downtown Notary has also expanded its mobile services area so that more people can have access to our convenient and affordable services.  We now cover the area from Finch Avenue to Lakeshore Road and from Jane Street to Victoria Park Avenue.  As always, mobile services are provided at no extra charge to persons who require a house call to accommodate disabilities.

So You Want to Get Married Outside of Canada

Did you know that before weddings in Scotland they do something called "blackening the bride and groom", which consists of throwing gunk at the engaged couple? Or that in Germany, newlyweds have to work together to saw a log in half in front of their wedding guests?

Getting married outside of Canada is pretty popular these days, whether it's a destination wedding in a glamorous tropical location or returning to the bride or groom's country of origin to be surrounded by their families. In addition to knowing the wedding traditions of the country you're getting married in, you need to know what the requirements are for foreign nationals who wish to marry in that jurisdiction.  The easiest way to do this is to contact the country's consulate or embassy and ask.

Many countries require a "Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage" in order to give a foreign national permission to marry there. Canada, in keeping with its insistence of doing things its own way, does not issue such certificates.  However, JLAC, which is the Authentication and Service of Documents Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), will prepare a Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad.

To request a Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad from JLAC, you will need to do the following:

  • Complete an EXT-2165 Request Form - you must specifically request a Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad;
  • Provide a statutory declaration stating your full name, present marital status and your permanent address in Canada, which a notary such as Downtown Notary Toronto can help prepare and notarize;
  • f you have been married before, you must submit your original or appropriately certified true copy of a divorce certificate or divorce judgment;
  • If you are a widow or widower, you must submit the original or appropriately certified copy of the death certificate of your deceased spouse;
  • If you were born in Canada, you must submit your original or appropriately certified true copy of a birth certificate. If you were not born in Canada, you must submit appropriately certified true copies of your Canadian citizenship card and Record of Landing form. If you have lost your Record of Landing Form, this must be mentioned in the statutory declaration of marital status;
  • Enclose either a pre-addressed return envelope with either sufficient postage (for regular mail) or a prepaid courier shipping label.

It takes up to 15 business days to process this request, so make sure you give yourself enough time to ensure you will receive the Statement before you leave Canada to get married.

More information on how to get a Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad, visit the Government of Canada's Authentication of Documents website.

Changing Legal Gender Assignment and Name in - UPDATED

Recently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada changed its policies to allow Canadians to self-identify on citizenship documents without sex-reassignment surgery.  Those wishing to change their gender on the certificate need only now submit provincially or territorially-issued documentation such as amended birth certificate.  This is an important step towards recognizing the rights of transgender Canadians.

In 2012, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario changed the requirements for transgender persons to obtain a change in sex designation on their registration of birth.  If you wish to change your sex designation on your birth certificate, you'll need to do the following:

All documents must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar General. Detailed guidance on how to change sex designation on a birth registration form for both adults and children can be found on the Government of Ontario website.

While the simplification of the process to change sex designation on a birth registration is a good thing, it still presents significant barriers for many transgender people who wish to legally change their gender assignment. Christin Milloy has an excellent blog post on how the HRTO's 2012 changes are a disappointment to many people. 

Changing your legal name in Ontario is a separate (and simpler) process from changing your sex designation on your birth certificate.  You'll need to complete an Application to Change an Adult's Name and have it notarized by a notary such as Downtown Notary Toronto and mail it and the requisite fees to the Office of the Registrar General.  Typically, when a person changes their name in Ontario it is published in the Ontario Gazette, the official publication of the Government of Ontario.  However, if you would prefer that this not happen you can submit a Request for Non-Publication in the Ontario Gazette form.

One of the questions we are asked most frequently is which document needs to be submitted first: the request to change sex designation on a birth certificate or the request to change your legal name. Generally, both applications can be submitted to the Ontario Officer of the Registrar General at the same time. If you have any questions about the process, we strongly recommend that you contact ServiceOntario. 

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has a great Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Change of Name for Trans Persons with information about the process in every province that we highly recommend .

Downtown Notary Toronto is an LGBTQ ally business.  One of the ways we hope to contribute to the breaking down of barriers for transgender persons is by notarizing Application of Change of Sex Designation on Birth Registration and Application to Change an Adult or Child's Name forms without charge.  For more information, please contact us.


Tickets, Money, Passport, Consent to Travel Letter

It's hard to believe that it's already June! Soon the kids will be out of school and it will be time for summer holidays, which for many families means international travel across borders.

When I was a kid, it felt like every time my family went on vacation we forgot something important, something that would be useful or beneficial enough to be missed everyday.  That item was usually ketchup or an extra pillow.  Luckily, we never forgot anything so important that our vacation got delayed, or worse, ruined.

When traveling with children, it's important to make sure you have all of the right documents to make your trip as easy and hassle-free as possible. Of course, you'll need the standard items: tickets, money, passport. But you may also need a consent to travel letter.

A consent to letter demonstrates that children who are traveling alone, with only one parent/guardian, friends, relatives or a group have permission to travel abroad from every parent (or guardian) who is not accompanying them on the trip.  While there is no legal requirement for Canadian children to carry a consent to travel letter, some countries may request to see a consent to travel letter when you are entering or exiting. Failure to produce a letter upon request may result in delays or refusal to enter or exit a country.

The Government of Canada strongly recommends that Canadian children carry a consent to travel letter, and it's good advice. It's an easy way to ensure that your trip goes smoothly.  Although there may not be a high likelihood that a consent to travel letter will be requested, depending on the country you are visiting, it's a much better idea to take that extra step to be fully prepared in case it should happen.

Luckily, the Government of Canada has an excellent website on consent to travel letters that provides examples of consent to travel letters and an interactive tool that can help you draft a consent to travel letter for free.  After you have completed your consent to travel letter, take it to a notary public such as Downtown Notary Toronto to have it notarized and you are good to go.

Fore more information on traveling with children, visit the Government of Canada's Children and Travel webpage.