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.

What to Expect at a Notary Appointment

Notary appointments: not as bad as dentist appointments, but not as fun as going to the movies.

We here at Downtown Notary understand that going to the notary isn't very high on most people's lists of things they look forward to.  That's why we make it our mission to make your appointment with us as quick, easy and painless as possible. 

This is what you can expect at a typical Downtown Notary Toronto appointment:

First, you'll meet with us.  Because most of our appointments take place at mobile locations, it's not always easy to identify who the notary is. We send our clients texts or emails, or call them, to let them know where we are sitting and what we look like so there is no guesswork.

Second, we check your identification and ask you to fill out a client verification form. As notaries public for the Province of Ontario we are legally obligated to verify our clients’ identities and retain certain information about them. We also have a professional and legal obligation to keep confidential all information we receive from our clients. We are committed to protecting any personal information we hold in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Third, we execute the document. This is a fancy way of saying, we do what needs to be done.  If it's a certified true copy, we compare the original to the photocopy, and once we are satisfied that the copy is true, we sign and seal it.  If it's an affidavit or statutory declaration, we ask you to swear and sign it, then we sign and seal it.

Finally, once the document is executed, we complete the transaction and issue you an electronic receipt via email.  We guarantee our work, so if any problems with our signatures are discovered after the appointment, we fix the errors for you.

Pretty simple.  And the best part? An average appointment takes less than 10 minutes, which means you can get back to the more fun things in life.

Yes! We are open on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day

Downtown Notary Toronto will be open on Thursday, December 31 and Friday, January 1 from 9 am to 7 pm. Regular hours will resume on Saturday, January 2. Please note that for services on New Year's Day there will be an additional $25 statutory holiday fee, plus the cost of notarization or commissioning.  Please contact us if you have any questions.

Have a happy and safe new year!

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: info@downtownnotarytoronto.com.

¡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!

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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.

The Notary's Guide to Starting Your Own Small Business

I've run out of notary public topics to write about (hard to believe, I know!). I suppose I've hit notary public writer's block - but don't worry, it's just a matter of time before a new and exciting notary topic comes my way.  In the meantime, I'm going to talk about something that many people have been asking me about lately: how to start your own small business.  I consider myself a minor authority on the topic as Downtown Notary has grown and thrived so much in just one year (no big deal!).

  1. Have an idea that sets you apart. It's unlikely that you will have a completely novel business idea, so chances are someone is already doing it. Maybe they already have a large market share, or maybe there are a lot of competitors.  So how can you succeed in that kind of environment? Find your niche - something that you do that your competitors don't, or something that you will do better than them.  Knowing your niche will help you to focus on what you need to do to grow your business.  For example, if you're going to open a firm that provides legal services for dentists, then you should learn everything you can about the relevant areas of law.  Your niche is also key for developing a marketing strategy - you need to tell people what makes you so great!
     
  2. Create a brand. It doesn't matter what kind of business you're in or what kind of services you provide, you need to create an identifiable brand.  How do you want people to feel about your business? What do you want them to remember about your business? If you could sum up your business in three words, what would it be? Ideally, these feelings, thoughts and words would be connected to and reflective of your niche. These are the things that will form the basis of your brand.
     
  3. Remember that appearances count. In my opinion, 99% of business is done on the web. This means you need to have a good website. Having a good website is more than having relevant information and a phone number on a web page.  It's about having a well-designed website that is not only informative but compelling, interesting and visually pleasing.  That's why there are dozens of books and hundreds of blogs on web design - there's an art to it! And the way your page is designed will have an impact on how long potential customers spend on it and how many conversions you will get. The elements on your website should be informed by principles of good design and should reflect your brand. For example, if your business is a forward-thinking, efficient and innovative, choose fonts, images and colours that match that - no Comic Sans or grainy, low-definition images. Consider creating a logo that will be featured on your webpage and print materials. Also think about accessibility - everyone should be able to use your website. 
     
  4. Get connected to social media.  See above - the Internet is EVERYTHING. A clever business idea, great brand and fabulous website don't mean much unless you can make people aware of your business.  And the best way to do that (and improve your search engine optimization) is by getting on social media - Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Myspace (just kidding!). It doesn't matter if you write a blog about possibly the most uninteresting topic around (cough cough notaries cough) or repost tweets from your favourite comedian, fresh social media content is essential for any small business.
     
  5. Be good at what you do but be ready to make mistakes - and learn from them! Obviously you need to know what you're doing and have some expertise in it.  But you don't need to know everything or strive for perfection, at least not at first. Chances are you have a skill in something and you want to make that the basis of your business, but maybe you don't know a lot about running a successful business, like marketing or accounting.  Or maybe you have strong business skills, but need to learn more about your business' services.  That's okay! One of the best things about starting your own business is constantly learning new skills and improving your abilities.  You need to be prepared to make mistakes and fail occasionally - it's going to happen - and learn from those mistakes. If something isn't working, change it. If it's still not working, then move in a different direction. Being flexible and adaptable no matter what kinds of challenges get thrown your way is critical to being successful in our rapidly evolving economy. If you can't stand imperfection or failure, then maybe you should reconsider starting your own business.



Downtown Notary Is One!

It's that time of the year again: the temperature is slowly dropping, the leaves are changing colours and pumpkin spice everything is ubiquitous.  Pull out your cardigans, October is here!

This year October takes on a special meaning for those of us at Downtown Notary HQ, as we are celebrating our one year anniversary.  In October 2014, Downtown Notary Toronto started as a small, one person business that provided mostly evening and weekend appointments.  In the space of 12 months, we've grown to three locations, extended our mobile services range to all across the city and enhanced our service hours.  Throughout all of this, we've worked hard to provide the best customer service possible.  Being a notary public means being a part of a service-oriented profession, and we take that commitment seriously. 

Like any small business, we've also had our hiccups along the way, and we had to learn and adapt when things didn't quite go as well as planned. One of Downtown Notary Toronto's goals is to be flexible and accommodating to best meet the needs of our customers.  These principles also apply to building a business from the ground up.  Planning is always important, but being able to deviate from the plan when it's no longer the best option is critical.

Some of the lessons we've learned this year:

  • Always bring your notary stamp with you, no matter what. Like Murphy's Law, the one time you choose to leave your stamp at home, you'll have to run home to get it for a last-minute appointment.
  • Don't rely on call display to keep contact information. Forgetting to do so will result in frantic Googling to find make sure you have the right telephone number or email address.
  • Get the best mobile phone case you can get. As a mobile company, we rely on our mobile phones for everything: communicating with clients and each other; managing our schedules; and completing transactions. Even the temporary lack of a mobile phone is really challenging, so if you're prone to dropping and breaking your phone (like I did twice this year), make sure it's well protected.
  • Have multiple transportation options. You'll never know when the streetcar tracks will freeze, or a bus will be delayed, or your bicycle will have a flat tire. Make sure you can get from Point A to Point B in more than one way.

To celebrate our one year anniversary, Downtown Notary Toronto is offering 10% off all of our services for the month of October 2015.

It's been an amazing year, and we can't wait to see what the next year has in store for Downtown Notary Toronto. Thank you to all of our clients and those who helped us on this journey.

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Star Gazing at the Toronto International Film Festival

Lights, camera, action! It is that time of year again, as our city hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which takes place from September 10-20th, 2015.  This year is no ordinary year as TIFF will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary.  Every year the festival highlights the best of film showcasing Canadian, international, and Hollywood talent.  Since its inception in 1976, TIFF has grown to become one of the largest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. Coinciding with the Venice Film Festival, international film stars and directors can often be seen traveling back and forth across the Atlantic to promote the best of cinema that year.

This of course means that visitors from around the world will descend on Toronto during the next ten days. It is a hectic time with a flurry of activity taking place throughout the city.  Downtown Notary Toronto would like to extend a warm welcome to all those visiting us for this event and join our fellow Torontonians in celebrating our great city.

As well, we would like to remind you that our mobile service and extended hours including weekends and evenings are ideal for an event such as this.  Our flexibility of service ensures that you have one less thing to worry about during TIFF.  Our notaries can travel to any location in the City, whether it's a hotel like the Gladstone, the Drake or the Thompson or a venue like the Bell TIFF Lightbox.  Don't worry if you left something to the last minute - we also specialize in late night and last minute notary services.  For more information about our mobile and late night services, click here. Or if you'd prefer, you can call us at 647-799-3531, or email us at info@downtownnotarytoronto.com. We look forward to helping you during this TIFF and wish you the best during your stay in Toronto!

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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.

Selling a Property Outside of Ontario - But You're in Ontario

Selling a property is a big deal. Property tends to be the most important asset a person has, so when you're buying or selling a house, condo or piece of land, you want to be sure it's done right.  Selling property involves a lot of paper work containing fine print and very important details which your realtor and real estate lawyer will help you navigate. Usually, the paper work is executed in front of your real estate lawyer who then notarizes the documents.  Easy!

Unless you're in Ontario and the property you are selling and your real estate lawyer are in another province.  Not so easy.

Actually, there's a very simple solution - a notary public (surprise, surprise!).  Depending on the province in which the property you are selling is located, you may be able to have a notary public, such as Downtown Notary Toronto, witness the signing of the real estate documents prepared by your real estate lawyer.

If you are selling a property outside of Ontario while you are in Ontario, here are a few suggestions to help the process go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Ask your real estate lawyer what the signing requirements are for the province in which the property is located.  In some provinces, such as British Columbia and Alberta, it is sufficient that a notary public witness the signature of real estate documents.  In other provinces, like Manitoba, the documents must be witnessed by a lawyer.
  2. If your real estate lawyer tells you that a notary public can sign the documents, find a reliable and affordable notary public, like Downtown Notary Toronto.  Downtown Notary Toronto's notaries have lots of experience witnessing the execution of real estate documents from other provinces from Ontario and countries outside of Canada.
  3. Once you have found a notary public, ask your lawyer to prepare detailed instructions regarding which documents need to be signed, the manner in which they are to be signed (for example, does the notary need to include their address on each document? Do they need to be signed in black or blue ink?) and how many copies of each document are required.  Provide these instructions to the notary public ahead of the appointment if possible to ensure they have time to ask for clarification if required.
  4. After the documents have been signed in front of the notary, send them to your real estate lawyer before the closing date.  Downtown Notary Toronto will package and ship your documents for you for $25 plus the cost of shipping.
  5. Remember that notaries may only witness signatures and prove the authenticity of signatures and copies of documents. When selling a property, you should seek independent legal advice from that of the purchaser.  Notaries cannot provide you with independent legal advice regarding the selling of a property, and should refuse to do so when asked. If your real estate lawyer says that it's okay to have a notary sign a certificate of independent legal advice, find yourself another lawyer.

If you have any other questions about how Downtown Notary Toronto can help you with witnessing real estate documents, please contact us.  Happy selling!

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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.

Notary Public vs. Lawyer: What's the Difference?

In addition to being asked whether we are lawyers, we here at Downtown Notary are often asked, what is the difference between a notary public and a lawyer?  It's a question that reminds me of grade five math, when I was faced with questions like "If all wobbles are wibbles, and some wibbles are waddles, then some waddles are what?"

Most notaries public in Ontario are lawyers who are members of the Law Society of Upper Canada.  But, not all lawyers are notaries.  As we discussed in an earlier post, to be a notary public in Ontario, a lawyer has to apply for a notary public appointment. 

While notaries and lawyers provide legal services, there's some very important distinctions between what a notary public may do versus what a lawyer may do.  Notaries are able to verify that signatures, marks and copies of documents are true or genuine. Notaries who are not also practicing lawyers are limited to non-contentious issues and may not provide any legal advice or representation.  In Ontario, lawyers are required to carry professional liability insurance to ensure that their clients are protected in the instance of malpractice. If you are seeking legal advice, it's important that you seek out a lawyer who is licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and has the right kind of insurance.  If you are seeking to have a document or signature authenticated, it's important that you seek out a notary public who has been appointed to provide such services.

 Downtown Notary Toronto does not provide any legal advice.  We do, however, provide a full range of notary public services

In short: Need someone to witness a signature, certify a document or administer an oath? Find a notary public.  Need legal advice or representation? Find a properly licensed lawyer. Need some comic relief? Check out this picture:


Apostille? That's im-postille-ble!

We are often asked if we can perform an apostille. An apostille is an authentication of a public document issued pursuant to 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.  Simply put, you would want to get an apostille done on a document that you would be using in another country.

Canada is not a signatory of the Hague Convention, and therefore apostille is not done in Canada.  So how can you authenticate a document for use outside of Canada?

It's pretty easy, actually.  All you need is a Certificate of Authentication issued by the Official Documents Services of the Government of Ontario. ODS authenticates documents by verifying the seal, stamp and signature of notaries public in Ontario and commissioners for taking affidavits who have been appointed by the Ministry of the Attorney General. ODS does not validate the contents of documents. The process takes about 30 minutes and costs between $16 and $32. For more information on how to have your documents certified by ODS, you can visit the Government of Ontario website.

If you, like most other people, are unable to cram a 30 minute trip to ODS into your busy schedule, Downtown Notary Toronto can help.  In addition to notarizing your documents, we can take your documents to ODS and have them authenticated for you.  If you are interested in this service, please contact us to learn more. 

 

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.

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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.

Five Reasons to Be a Notary Public

In addition to being asked whether I am a lawyer, I am also often asked why I don't practice as a lawyer full time.  There are many reasons, some within my control and some outside, but overall I believe that the traditional model of lawyering - hypercompetitive, hierarchical, and expensive - is unsustainable and out of date in this age when many workers want flexibility and a good work-life balance while still being able to pay the bills.

Instead of focusing on why I'm not a lawyer, I want to focus on the things I love about being a notary public.  Here are my top five reasons to be a notary public:

  1. The work is really interesting: Since Downtown Notary Toronto started in 2014, I have rarely done the same document twice. This means I'm always learning about different legal proceedings and requirements.  If I haven't notarized or commissioned a particular kind of document before, I make sure I've researched it thoroughly to ensure I understand its requirements.
     
  2. Meeting new people:  I'm a people-person, so I enjoy the opportunity to meet with new clients and provide the best customer service possible. As a notary, I get to meet people from all walks of life.
     
  3. Seeing the city: Despite having lived in Toronto for 12 years, I've realized that there are so many parts of this city that I've never seen before - or knew about! As a mobile notary, I often travel (usually by bicycle!) across the city to meet my clients in their homes or places of business.  Not only do clients appreciate the fact that we can come to them, I've gotten to know this city much better by traveling from one neighbourhood to another.
     
  4. Flexible hours: Clients tell us frequently that they really appreciate the fact that we are open on evenings and weekends. As they say, everyone is really busy these days, and it can be very hard to fit in a trip to the notary between 9 and 5 on top of everything else.  With our extended hours, they can figure out times that work best for them.  On the flip side, this gives me a lot of flexibility in my own working hours.
     
  5. Becoming a technophile: As you might know, Downtown Notary Toronto is an entirely mobile business - we forgo a permanent office in order to keep our overhead low, and we pass the savings on to our clients.  So how do we run our business? Using the latest and greatest in mobile business technology.  Although I've always had an interest in tech that could be described as mild (though I must note that I was an avid Hypercard programmer back in grades 3-6), starting Downtown Notary Toronto has challenged me to improve my technoskills so we can provide the most efficient and effective notary public and commissioner services to our clients. I realize I'm never going to be the next Steve Jobs, but I can design a website like nobody's business.

So there you have it: my top five reasons that being a notary public is great. Do you agree or disagree?

 

 

Are You a Lawyer? And Why Don't You Have an Office?

Clients often ask me if I'm a lawyer. I assume that I'm asked this because many people aren't exactly sure what a notary is. To be fair, notaries don't get a lot of publicity (unfortunately none of the Kardashians are notaries).  We are also somewhat difficult to categorize: We provide legal-type services, but don't provide legal advice or legal representation.

To answer the question: Yes, I am a lawyer and a member in good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Pursuant to the Notaries Act, all notaries in Ontario must be lawyers. However, I currently do not practice law and therefore limit my legal services to notarization and commissioning of oaths. But like all other lawyers, I slogged through three years of law school, 20 or so hours of bar exams and 10 months of articling.

Another question I'm often asked is where my office is located.  And when I explain that, as a mobile notary I don't have an office and meet clients in Starbucks, people will sometimes ask if that's "normal" or comment that it seems a bit strange.

There's a few reasons why I do not have an office.  Firstly, offices are very expensive. One of the reasons legal services are so expensive is to pay for those expensive offices. Without an office, I'm able to pass on the savings to my clients and provide notary public and commissioner for taking oaths services at affordable and accessible rates.  Secondly, not having an office allows me to be flexible: I'm able to meet clients at times that fit their schedule, or provide them with house calls across downtown Toronto. Non-traditional legal practices in which lawyers or notaries work from their homes, shared offices or alternative offices, such as coworking spaces, are becoming increasingly common as we strive to provide high quality services to our clients at affordable prices. Thirdly, Starbucks makes much better coffee than I do.

 

Don't Let a Rogue Notary Happen to You

A former colleague of mine was kind enough to share a National Post article about an Vancouver man who allegedly acted as a rogue, unlicensed notary officiating documents for Freemen-on-the-Land and others in B.C. who appeared in B.C. Supreme Court on last Friday.  You can read the full article here.  While the headline of 'Incoherent, bizarre gibberish' seems humourous, an unlicensed notary is no laughing matter. Imagine filing your paperwork for your very important transaction with your lawyer or the court, only to find out it isn't valid because the notary you paid wasn't really a notary?

Like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, notaries public must be properly licensed in order to carry out notarizations and commissions.  Just like you wouldn't want just anyone representing you in court or fixing your cavity, you don't want just anyone notarizing your documents.

In Ontario, notaries public are governed by the Notaries Act.  Lawyers who are members of good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada are automatically commissioners for taking oaths and affidavits. To be appointed as a notary public, lawyers must apply to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

So what can you do to ensure that your notary public is, well, actually a notary?

You can search the Law Society of Upper Canada's online Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. The Lawyer and Paralegal Directory is a complete listing of legal professionals who are licensed by the Law Society to offer legal services in Ontario.

You can contact the Official Document Services Branch of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to determine if the notary public's seal is authentic.

Or, you could ask the notary public to see their certificate of appointment.

Here's a notary joke that's actually funny:

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