As the world becomes smaller and people come closer, business processes become expedited. But some things remain the same, such as document signing and notarization. Documents about real estate, finances, and even marriage getting notarized from foreign countries are no longer a surprise. This raises the following questions: is it legal to use foreign notaries if the notary is outside the U.S., do remote online notaries offer the legal grounds for the document to be accepted, and can documents be notarized in different languages?

This article explores the status of foreign notaries, their legal standing, and how Remote Online Notarization (RON) has become prominent regarding efficiency and speed. We’ll cover:

  1. Is a foreign notary valid in the U.S.?
  2. Do notaries issue ‘Apostilles’?
  3. Can a notary notarize in a foreign language?
  4. Can a U.S. notary notarize a foreign document?
  5. Benefits of Remote Online Notarization
  6. The future of eNotary

1. Is a foreign notary valid in the U.S.?

Legal matters can be tricky, and people are always cautious about the notarization of important documents. Any ambiguity in the document can lead to the individual dealing with several complications. This serves as a waste of time and money for both parties involved. To ensure that all the legal binding is authenticated, you need to know where the law stands. When it comes to foreign notarization for U.S. citizens, you have to ask if it is valid in your country.

In a word, yes, you can get your documents notarized from a foreign notary, and it will be valid in the U.S. That being said, there is still ambiguity regarding laws, especially when it comes to international activities. Whether or not a foreign notary is valid in the U.S. depends on the notary service itself.

Suppose you are opting for a foreign notary. In that case, the first thing you need to look out for is if the foreign notary is performing the same notarization duties in the United States. If the tasks performed by both are similar, there is a strong chance that the notarization will be valid in the U.S.

Let’s look into the different duties of U.S. notaries and foreign notaries. A U.S. notary service is tasked with certifying signatures for organizations that need identity verification to complete various legal and financial transactions. Before the U.S. notary can receive certification credentials from the government, they must undergo background checks. These are in place to ensure whether they are trustworthy or not. Furthermore, U.S. notaries are required to issue surety bonds. This is in case there is negligence, and the state needs to cover damages.

Now when we talk about foreign notaries, they not only undergo all the functions that a U.S. notary performs, but also the notary is tasked with certifying the document itself as legally binding. In addition, foreign notaries in the U.S. are appointed by the state and oversee financial transactions which are otherwise complex, such as acquisition agreements or real estate contracts.

Most people have started opting for Remote Online Notarization (RON) services when appointing foreign notary services. This eliminates traveling costs and makes the process swift and time-efficient. That being said, foreign notaries should be reserved for complex documents and not be used for routine U.S. business transactions. This is because foreign notaries usually take time, and even though this time is cut down drastically by the help of RON, it is still overkill. Therefore, in the case of routine notarization, your best bet is to opt for a U.S. notary service.

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2. Do notaries issue ‘Apostilles’? 

Foreign notarization isn’t always easy. There are certain documentation and requirements that are included for the notarization to be authorized. One such requirement is an Apostille. An Apostille is a type of certification that authenticates the seal and signature of the person performing the notarization. This certification is vital if the notarization occurs in a different country and has to be sent back. This applies to countries ratified in The HCCH Apostille Convention.

The purpose of this document is to confirm to the recipient that the person notarizing the document is, in fact, a valid notary under the commission at the time of the document being notarized.

Sending a document without an apostille certificate attached will not reject the notarization, but it will take longer to process. This is because the state will then have to run an authentication process. Since this process is done with the help of several different agencies, it takes time to verify the legitimacy of the notary from the foreign country. If a signer requires an apostille certificate, the document must first be submitted to an authority that typically processes an apostille certificate and attaches it to the notarized document for a fixed fee.

3. Can a notary notarize in a foreign language?

There are certain instances when opting for a foreign notary that the document can be in a foreign language. However, this begs the question, will notarization in a different language affect the document’s legitimacy?

Notarization in a different language does not leave the document void. Although, there is a requirement that needs to be fulfilled for the document to be accepted. Several states in the U.S. accept documents in a foreign language, as long as the notarial certificate is English. It is highly advised to opt for a notary that can read the foreign language to remove ambiguity in the document. It is also essential to ensure the signer has signed the document using a language or characters that the notary can understand. This can help authenticate the name of the signer.

With the help of Remote Online Notarization (RON), you can easily translate documents and create a notarial certificate. You need to ensure that all the requirements are met when using RON for foreign notarization. This process helps save time and costs associated with getting paperwork made for the certification and documents. It also saves time and cost of postal services and charges, speeding up the process of notarization.

4. Can a U.S. notary notarize a foreign document?

Yes, but as before, the notarial certificate is required to be in English. That being said, the U.S. receives a flurry of college transcripts, medical records, and immigration documents that are more often than not in a different language. The problem arises where you need to authenticate the document. Yes, the notary can still notarize it, but not understanding the document can hurt their reputation. No well-renowned notary will ever notarize a document they can’t understand.

Notaries should direct the person to a different notary service that can interpret the document. Experts advise against opting for third-party interpreters. This is because there is a chance that they intentionally or unknowingly misinterpret the document that can result in legal issues for the notary.

There are several notaries out there that can read different languages to simplify the notarization process for individuals. In addition, these notaries are trained to interpret documents and authenticate them before notarizing, freeing them from any possible liability.

This process has been made simpler with the help of RON. With the power of the internet, documents can be easily translated and interpreted. This eliminates the risk on notaries and simplifies the notarization process

5. Benefits of Remote Online Notarization

Foreign notary services can be a great option, but certain constraints come along with it. However, with the help of Remote Online Notarization (RON), organizations and individuals can enjoy several benefits. These benefits include:


In this day and age, our priority has always been convenience. We are so heavily dependent on the internet these days that even grocery shopping can be done online. This was an alien thought not too long ago. RON allows you to automate the notarization process, not only for foreign notarization but also for routine documents such as loans and insurance. Automating the task makes the workflows smoother. Foreign notary services can take extended periods to get your documents notarized. It is difficult for the notary to schedule visits with the individual and get your documents notarized. With online notarization, this barrier is eliminated.

Cost efficiency

One of the most significant costs associated with notarization is the preparation and postage of paperwork. In addition, foreign notaries spend a lot on posting documents. These costs may not seem like a lot for a single document. Still, when you have to notarize hundreds of documents every day, this cost can start accumulating and have a considerable effect on your bottom line. By opting for RON, these costs can be cut drastically as all the paperwork is now digitized and sent back and forth, digitally and encrypted. This is taken a step further as RON does not require the notary to be physically present at the site and can all be done online in the comfort of your home.

Time efficiency 

Time is critical when it comes to notarizing documents. This is because the processing of documents takes a long time to be completed, even after the document has been notarized. Remote online notaries can help you speed up the workflow towards process completion. With RON, you can be anywhere in the world and send your document in to get it notarized. Gone are the days where you ship your documents overseas and have to wait for days just so the document gets to the notary authority. It can now all be done with a click of a button.

6. The future of eNotary

Several organizations have started opting for the E-notarization route. This is because RON can help organizations improve time efficiency and minimize costs. In addition, several remote online notary services can help you create e-signatures. This enables 24/7 electronic notarization services for customers and clients, allowing them to get remote online notary signing, simplifying the process of notarization.

Furthermore, RON eliminates the need for physical paperwork. Paperless notarization can help save space along with costs for storage and printing. In addition, remote online notary signing means that all the documentation is online, making it visible to the concerned individuals of the organization. This ensures that the documents are always backed up and secure. Let’s take this in respect of physical paperwork. They are always prone to accidental damage and, once damaged, cannot be retrieved, unlike a digital copy.

PandaDoc Notary is a RON platform used by foreign notary services for online notary signing and digital certificates. PandaDoc Notary enables foreign notary service providers to notarize their electronic documents from the comfort of their homes without dealing with paperwork and having to schedule visits.

PandaDoc Notary offers organizations an all-in-one platform to help them legally collect documents, get the electronic signature by the right person, notarize the sign and manage these notarized documents electronically. This can be a great option for a foreign notary service with recurring notarizations. 

Learn more about how you can use this solution for your business. Request a demo.

Wrapping up

A foreign notary is a real thing, and documents needing notarization can come from anywhere in the world. This is because the world is now digitized, and the internet is making the world smaller. Several individuals send in immigration forms, college transcripts, and other personal documents for notarization. The problem arises where the process of completion can take a considerable amount of time. Some of these tasks can be time-sensitive as well, and relying on conventional methods can be ineffective. This is why electronic notary signing has picked up. It gets the work done faster, is more cost-efficient, and offers effectiveness.

Digital signatures are widely accepted across Idaho, Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, Florida, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and several other states of the U.S.

All you need to do is ensure that your Enotary has the proper credentials to undergo the task and has the notary seal that authorizes them under the notarial act to perform any task of notarization. Remote online notaries or remote notaries are gaining traction for your electronic records’ authentication and E-sign services.