Why is it important to notarize my document?

Having a notary public witness a signature is a powerful risk management tool to prevent fraud and identity theft. But many clients still ask us: why do I need to have my document notarized? Or why does this government agency / organization ask for a notarized signature?

The answer is fairly simple: getting an agreement or document notarized adds a critical layer of verification that the people who signed the document are the people they say they are (i.e. a signatory). You would not want anyone forging a signature if they were making a deal with you, and similarly, the government requires a notarized signature for many documents today in order to reduce the risk that the document has been forged.

In Ontario, every Notary Public is appointed by the Ministry of the Attorney General to carry out oaths before clients and to swear documents. An Ontario Notary Public is authorized by the Crown (i.e. the provincial government) to verify identities and to witness and confirm signatures on documents, including Affidavits.

Only an Ontario Notary Public can certify true copies of original documents by viewing and verifying that a copy is authentic as compared to the original. This verification is critical when submitting documents overseas, as the notary’s seal gives assurance to the foreign entity or government that the copy is a true copy of the original. This is yet another reason why notarizing a document is an important and essential requirement in the modern economy, even at a time when electronic documentation is the norm and increasingly preferred over pen and paper documentation.

Notarizing a document not only makes it more likely that signatories are who they say they are, but also is mandatory in most provinces for certain agreements, such as deeds, mortgages, easements, powers of attorney and living wills.

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