A notary public in Whampoa is a public servant appointed by a state official. The general focus of his or her job is to witness the documents’ verification and administer oaths. They serve to deter fraud, appearing as an impartial witness for legal documents such as affidavits, deeds or powers of attorney. The presence of a notary public helps to screen for imposters and make sure both parties are entering into an agreement knowingly and willingly.
Similarly, legalization is the process of proper authentication or screening of documents or the notary by the high commission or the embassy or the consulate of the country in which the document is to be used is authorized to or located in Singapore. In simple terms, it is the official confirmation of the originality of the documents or we can say that document legalization is just the confirmation that the stamp, seal or the signature showing in the document is genuine and not a fraud.
Whampoa Notary Public Service Locations
We have been notarizing documents for over 12 years and am astounded by the incredible number of incompetent notaries that are notarizing documents on a daily basis and how little the public knows about this serious problem-until they learn about it the hard way. I have personally seen hundreds of documents rejected by county clerks and consulates for leaving out required notary wording, including incorrect information, using blurry stamps and a variety of other reasons. Every day, these untrained and seemingly clueless notaries put countless legal documents and contractual arrangements at risk-from Power-of-Attorney and Loan Documents to Prenuptial Agreements, Travel Consent Forms and Wills.
Most of the notaries notarizing today have received little or no training. They may study for a few hours or days, take the notary license test and then just start stamping away with no real understanding of the principles of notarizing or the mandatory notary requirements. A high percentage of notaries don't know even the most basic notarization requirement: that a notarized document include either what is known as a notary "acknowledgement" or a "jurat," two types of notary statements that are the core of a notarization. Having just the notary's commission stamp and signature on a document, a common practice by many notaries, does not make it notarized.
And you don't have to take my word for it. A study by one state association of notaries a few years ago confirmed that "a majority of notaries" were "not performing their duties properly." The study took place in NY but it could have been done anywhere in the US with the same results.
Another mistake notaries make is related to the location where the notarization takes place. The notary section must include the notary "venue": the state and county where the notarization took place. Instead of writing in where the notarization took place, many notaries often write in the county in which they have their notary commission filed (information that is included on their notary stamps and not what is needed for the venue). Or they don't see that the notary location is completely omitted from the document and do not add it.
Notary customers are constantly caught off-guard by this negligence or incompetence and it often has major consequences. Frequently, a customer will end up waiting on a government agency line for an hour or two to get a notarized document approved and then have to start from scratch when the document is rejected because the notary had no idea what he or she was doing. The notary customer may even have a flight later that day that will need to be delayed or cancelled due to not being able to get his or her documents properly approved in time. I would bet there are worse disasters that incompetent or inexperienced notaries have caused that I am just not aware of.
Action needs to be taken to prevent these sloppy practices from continuing. It's time the Secretary of State or Lieutenant Governor in all 50 states--from NY to California--stepped in and started monitoring notaries more closely. To test their skills, test administrators should give notaries a variety of sample documents (not theoretical multiple-choice questions that have little relevance to notarizing an actual document) and should be instructed to notarize the test documents for various purposes, including international use. Then we can finally weed out the good notaries from the bad, reduce the number of legal documents that have to be re-executed, re-notarized and re-authenticated and to give the general public a break.
What Does a Notary Public Do?
It's something most of us don't give a second thought to - until we get into trouble overseas and need help. So, who do you call? A Consulate, the Embassy, or High Commission? The following is intended as an unofficial and brief explanation only:
Consulates are like mini embassies or branches of embassies. They are found in major tourist cities of the world or areas with large expatriate populations. Consulates issue visas, passports and emergency documents. They also perform notary functions, register births and deaths and handle serious matters such as forced marriages and child abductions. Consulates assist nationals imprisoned abroad and victims of crime. They also help in cases of serious illness while travelling or death of relatives abroad. They are the first point of contact when passports are lost or stolen or any other serious problem is experienced when living or travelling abroad. Their main function is to assist people; they do not normally get involved in country-to-country relations (which is the main role and function of the ambassador and embassy). Smaller cities and towns may have an 'honorary consulate' which is a smaller version of a consulate.
Expatriates and travellers should never contact any of the above offices unless it is a very important matter (such as a lost or stolen passport) or a real emergency. Just as it is inappropriate to contact emergency services with time-wasting calls about noisy neighbours and dogs, consulates and embassies should never be contacted over trivial matters like lost sunglasses, weather reports, missed flights, or assistance with paying bills! Travellers are expected to take out travel insurance to cover travel mishaps such as lost and stolen property and payment of emergency medical expenses. Although you need to contact a Consulate to replace a lost or stolen passport, travel insurance will normally cover the cost for replacement.