Notarizing your Foreign Language Document
“The bank refused to notarize the document because it is written in Hungarian”, said the exasperated client to me. “No Problem” for http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com was my reply. There is no requirement for the New York notary to be able to read the document, none whatsoever. Consider a 765 page document regarding the sale of a Supertanker – do you think the notary will read it prior to notarizing the signature on the last page? Well, if they are not going to read all pages of all documents – why would they want to be able to read some pages of some documents? I doubt if I will ever know.
There are some interesting considerations regarding languages involved in the notarization process. But none have anything to do with the actual document. The main language requirements in New York are related to the required oath given by the notary. The notary must be able to give the oath directly (no interpreter allowed) to the person whose signature will be notarized. The person signing must be able to read the document in order to swear/affirm that the document is truthful/correct. That is the relevant language consideration – the document could be in Braille or Latvian – it does not matter to me.
Part of some NYC notaries’ refusal to handle this situation is their employer’s desire to avoid the possibility of being involved in a lawsuit. Some Manhattan banks will not notarize a Power of Attorney, some refuse a Bill of Sale – the reasons are the same; avoiding being involved in
litigation. If the notary can’t read any of the document it “might” be a prohibited (by “bank” policy) – thus all “unreadable” documents are often refused. At http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com that is never the case.
It is a “best practice” to prepare foreign language documents in both languages. Most times this is done by formatting the document into two columns with English on one side and the other language on the other. One advantage of doing this is that it allows the affiant to sign twice. The signature on the English side will be compared to their ID – the other language is not. Thus, it is the English signature that is being notarized – and most ID documents in this country have English signatures.
(1) No problem – there is no requirement for the notary to be able to read the document (written in Hungarian)
(2) The notary must be able to give an Oath w/direct communication w/affiant (no interpreter allowed)
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