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30 November 2022

Certification vs Notarisation

People often get the two confused, but knowing the difference is important.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

We are often asked what the difference is between certification and notarisation – and why a notary public’s services are more expensive than a solicitor. Here is everything you need to know about these two different services.

It’s a common requirement of governments across the world to request that the documents you present to them have been officially checked or validated. There is, though, a number of ways in which a document can be affirmed.

Two of the most frequently used methods of document verification are certification and notarisation. Our clients often get confused between the two and are unsure about which method is best for them, so we’ve broken it down for you here.

Generally though, if you want to use your document in the UK, it will require certification. If it is going to be used abroad, it will require notarisation.


In order for a document to be certified, it must be seen by a solicitor. Once the solicitor has seen the document, they will be able to provide you with a stamped copy of the document, which is known as a certified copy. This copy is issued with a written statement that confirms the document has been seen.

Importantly in these cases, a solicitor is unable to verify the information contained within the document. A certification is simply an official declaration that the solicitor has seen the original document.

Certified copies are useful if you want to have your document legalised whilst keeping your original clean. They’re also generally quicker than obtaining a notarised copy.


Unlike a certification, the notarisation of a document can only be done by a registered Notary Public. A Notary Public personally verifies the information contained within the document and declares the authenticity of its contents.

This process is generally longer and more costly than obtaining a certified copy from a solicitor.

Your identity must be verified with your photographic ID and proof of address. The document must be stamped by the notary public to affirm its validity. Verifying your ID is, in this case, a legal requirement.

Which should you choose?

It’s always best to check your specific requirements before opting to go with either a certification or notarisation.

Certified copies are usually accepted for use in the United Kingdom. Therefore, depending on your requirements, a solicitor may be sufficient.

However, you will need a notary public if your document is destined for use abroad. Some countries may also require an apostille in addition to the notarisation of your document.

Notarisation is generally the most widely accepted form of document verification and is recognised across the globe. If you are unsure about which type is best suited for your needs, we can talk you through the steps in a free consultation.

Contact us for our expert legal advice

Woodcock Law is highly experienced in assisting with your notary needs.
Contact us if you need any assistance at 0800 049 2471 or email


If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services,
contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0800 049 2471 or email

If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services, contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0800 049 2471 or email