Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
- What does it mean to have a document “notarized”?
An Ontario Notary Public’s seal on a document indicates that you are saying that the facts contained in the document are true, and has the same effect as swearing to tell the truth under oath in a court of law. In Ontario, a lawyer licensed Notary Public is also a Commissioner of Oaths (also called a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits). Notary Public Ottawa offers both services.
- Which documents need to be notarized?
Not all documents require notarization, but many do. Foreign embassies, Canadian banks, other financial institutions and the court system often require documents to be notarized. Letters to be sent abroad generally require notarization to verify the identity of the sender.
- What is the role of an Ontario Notary Public?
An Ontario Notary Public’s role to verify the identity of the person signing the document. A notary public is a third-party witness to not only the signature of a document but also the fact that all parties who signed did so willingly and under their own power. The Notary will also confirm the signatory understands the meaning of what she or he is signing. The act of notarizing a document or witnessing a signature is the core function of a Notary Public.
- What are the steps for a notarization?
- You must present valid identification (a valid piece of government issued photo ID with another piece) to your Notary.
- Your Notary will then ensure you understand and can attest to what you’re about to sign.
- The Notary Public then witnesses your signature.
- Once you have signed the document, the Notary will affix her or his stamp (or “seal”) to the document. The document is now notarized.
- What is a Commissioner of Oaths?
A commissioner of oaths (also known as a Commissioner of Taking Affidavits) is a person who can legally administer an oath, affirmation or declaration, for example, to a person making an affidavit.
- Why is it important to have my document notarized?
Having a notary public witness a signature is a powerful risk management tool to prevent fraud and identity theft.
Getting agreements notarized adds a layer of verification that the people who signed the document are the people they say they are. Notarization not only makes it more likely that signors 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.
- Can witnesses sign before the appointment?
No. We do not accept any pre-signed documents. There are no exceptions. The role of the Notary Public is to personally view and witness all signatures.
- Can Notary Pro Canada provide witnesses?
No, for the most part. Witnesses are occasionally available at some locations, however we cannot guarantee this. As a general rule, we ask clients to bring witnesses if their documents requires additional witnesses to sign (in addition to the Notary Public).
The Notary Public generally should NOT be one of the witnesses (this can complicate the situation).
- Can the witness be a family member for my Will or my Power of Attorney (PoA)?
No and this is not recommended. Ontario law prohibits beneficiaries from being witnesses to a Will.
- Can the witness be my child for a Will or PoA?
No if they are not a legal adult (18 years of age or older), and no if they are a beneficiary or Attorney under either document.
- Can my spouse / wife / partner bring the document for me if I sign it in advance?
No. No exceptions. We do not accept any pre-signed documents. Ever.
- Can my spouse / partner sign in advance and then I will sign in front of the notary (i.e. a document requiring both spouse’s signatures)?
No. See answer above.
- Do you provide printing or photocopying?
No. As a general rule, we do not provide printing or copying services. Some notaries are equipped with printers and can provide emergency printing for $1 per page.
- Do I need to bring the original document in order to get a certified true copy?
Yes, they must always bring the original document in order for the Notary Public to view the document and confirm that the copy is a Certified True Copy.
More questions? Check out our Help Center here.
ONLINE VIDEO SIGNING – REMOTE NOTARY SERVICE
What equipment do I need to use your online signing service?
Computer/laptop with webcam, or mobile device (phone, tablet) and internet connection.
Do I need to install a program?
If you are using a laptop/computer, you will be asked to install Zoom Meetings, a free app that usually installs quickly and easily.
If using FaceTime, you will need an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer running the latest version of iOS.
If using Whatsapp, you will need the latest version of Whatsapp.
How do I upload my documents and which file formats are accepted?
You upload your documents and ID in the online booking intake form. All files must be in Word, PDF, JPEG, PNG format.
Can I upload multiple documents?
Yes, but only through the second document upload section of the intake form. Please email any additional documents to [email protected].
How do I sign a document electronically / digitally?
At your scheduled appointment time, you will be sent a link to electronically sign the document(s) using an online signing tool called SignNow.
- If you are using a computer/laptop, you can sign the documents using your mouse or cursor.
- You can also upload a scan or picture of your actual signature and insert it into the document.
- You can type your signature, which will appear in various cursive fonts.
- Or if your laptop is touchscreen compatible, you can use your finger or a stylus to sign as you would sign a paper document.
If you are on a mobile device (phone/tablet) you use your finger or a stylus/surface pen to sign.
How do I receive the fully signed and notarized or commissioned document?
Once you have electronically signed the document, it will prompt the notary/commissioner to electronically countersign. When the notary is finished signing, the completed document is automatically sent to you for printing or forwarding, or submission. Please be sure to send/forward only the final copy
What are the alphanumeric digits I see underneath my digital signature in the completed document?
As part of its robust security settings, SignNow automatically inserts a unique alphanumeric ID code underneath each signature in every completed document. This code is unique to each signature, and is logged in the SignNow audit trail (explained below). This code represents an additional layer of security and verifiability for your e-signed document.
What is the Document History (audit trail) document I see attached to my completed document?
The SignNow signing platform automatically records all edits, text additions, and signatures made to your uploaded document, and logs the IP address of each user. This creates a verifiable audit trail which provides proof of who accessed the document file, and when.
How do I connect with the notary/commissioner for my appointment?
When you are finished booking, a confirmation email is sent to you which contains a link for Zoom, which is a free video conferencing service. If you opted to have your call via FaceTime or Whatsapp, the notary/commissioner will contact you at the scheduled appointment time at the phone number you provided.
Will you continue to offer online services after the pandemic has ended?
Yes. Notary Pro Canada is committed to making the document signing process as simple and secure as possible, for all Canadians. As more provinces permit and authorize electronic signing and commissioning, Notary Pro Canada intends to expand this service offering.
Can multiple people in different locations sign the same document online?
Yes. When you book your appointment, the intake form requests the full legal names and email addresses of any additional people required to sign or witness the same document. Please identify the other signers or witnesses who will be signing and in which capacity (i.e. as a witness or a second signer).
Does Notary Pro Canada provide witnesses for online signings?
No. Please provide a witness or witnesses who are unrelated, if possible. If the notary can supply a witness, they will advise you accordingly. Remember, your friends or neighbours can witness and digitally sign a document via video from the comfort of their home, and do not need to physically join you. We fully encourage strict self-isolation measures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and recognize it is not possible to invite friends or neighbours over to witness a document in person.
Is this process the same as in-person service?
Yes. Either in-person, or online, the notary public is verifying your identity, confirming you are signing the document freely and without any duress, and is witnessing your signature. The difference is that you will only receive an electronic copy of your digitally notarized document when you use our online service.
Is it legal to sign digitally (via electronic signature)?
Yes. The Ontario Electronic Commerce Act states that “a legal requirement that a document be signed is satisfied by an electronic signature.” (2000, c. 17, s. 11 (1).)
What has the Law Society of Ontario stated about signing digitally?
The Law Society has issued guidance to lawyers about virtual commissioning and created the following checklist. The Law Society does not regulate the Notaries Act nor the Commissioners for taking Affidavits Act.
What is your refund policy?
Upon written or documented proof that your document was rejected by any authority or organization, Notary Pro will refund you for the amount paid specifically for the rejected document. Refund applies only to the rejected document and not for any other services or documents paid by you to Notary Pro Canada at the same time, or in any related transaction.
Last Will and Testament / Power of Attorney – Virtual Witnessing
Is it legal to virtually witness my Will and Power of Attorney?
Yes. As of April 7, 2020, you can virtually witness these documents via video conference, pursuant to Ontario Regulation 2020.0240.e. Note that virtual witnessing is entirely different from digitally signing.
What is virtual witnessing?
You will print your Will and/or Power of Attorney. You will join a video call with the Notary Pro and a second witness, who will both virtually witness you physically sign your document. There is no digital signature process for virtual witnessing.
Who will serve as my first witness? Second witness?
For any virtual witnessing of a Will, a licensed member of the Law Society (such as a Notary Pro notary public or lawyer) must serve as the first witness. The second witness may be any legal adult, who is not a beneficiary under your Will, or your spouse.
What are the rules for Witnesses in Ontario?
You must have two witnesses sign your Will in Ontario. There are certain restrictions about who can serve as a witness for a Will. Click here to learn more.
Do I need to initial each page of my Will and/or Power of Attorney?
Yes, it is strongly recommended to initial each page of the Will and POA.
Can I digitally sign my Will or Power of Attorney instead of physically signing?
No. Electronic signatures are governed by the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act. Section 31 of this Act states that electronic signatures do not apply to Wills, Trust, or Powers of Attorney. While we understand this may be frustrating, Notary Pro strictly complies with all provincial rules and regulations.
Can the witnesses digitally sign the Will or Power of Attorney?
No. Not at this time, in accordance with section 31 of the Electronic Commerce Act.
SHIPPING / COURIER
So how does Notary Pro sign my Will or Power of Attorney?
Once you have physically signed your document, you may drop off the original signed copy to the Notary Pro location near you while observing strict social distancing.
If the Notary Pro rep who virtually witnessed your Will is in another city, you will be provided with a courier packing slip and will be asked to drop off your document at the nearest courier service provider. Notary Pro will then countersign and courier the documents back to you.
Am I responsible for paying for courier fees?
Yes. Notary Pro has established flat fees based on region and will charge you the exact rate as paid by Notary Pro to send and ship back your documents.
How long does the entire process take?
Approximately 1 to 2 weeks. While we strive to return the signed documents to you as soon as possible, the timing depends on when we receive the signed documents from you. As we do not control the courier service or process, we cannot guarantee a return date.