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What’s In a Name?

What follows may seem obvious to some of you, however, it isn’t to everyone, so we have taken the time to explain it as clearly as we can.

HOW WE IDENTIFY CLIENTS
When we witness someone sign a document, we have to identify the person to ensure that the person that is named in the document is the actual person that is signing the document.

The only way that we can identify a person is by examining their valid government-issued photo identification. All notaries must abide by this legal requirement. We cannot, for example, identify someone on the basis of their verbal statement, someone else’s statement, a business card, reputation, etc.

Summary of what we consider to be valid ID:
1. The ID must not be expired
2. The ID must contain a photo
3. The ID must be issued by a government (examples include, but are not limited to, Driver’s license, Passport, PR card, etc.)

Finally, note that we require original ID. We cannot rely on photocopies, images on phones, etc.

ID-DOCUMENT MISMATCH
As stated, the name on the document and the name on the ID must match. In the event of a mismatch, the document should be changed to reflect the person’s current legal name. If the name on the ID isn’t the person’s legal name, then the ID must be updated.

A situation we sometimes encounter is where the document contains a person’s former name. For example, the document might state the name as “Mary Thompson” (a maiden name) but the ID lists “Mary Tay” (a married name). We cannot witness the signature of “Mary Thompson” because she no longer exists, for our legal purposes. We can only witness the signatures of individuals under their current legal name, not under their former legal name. The solution here is to modify the document to “Mary Tay” and to sort out the name change with the recipient party, perhaps by providing the recipient with a statutory declaration that explains that “Mary Tay” was formerly known as “Mary Thompson” and that she changed her name as a result of a marital contract.

The presence or absence of middle names also matters. If a document lists a middle name, then the ID should also list the middle name. If the middle name is missing from the ID, it’s a problem. If the middle name is included on the ID but it’s missing from the document, it is much less problematic. Here’s a summary of this:

SCENARIO A
ID lists: John Smith
Document lists: John Alexander Smith
Problem. The document needs to be modified.

SCENARIO B
ID lists: John Alexander Smith
Document lists: John Smith
Less problematic. It would be ideal to resolve the discrepancy but we can proceed with the notarization even if the discrepancy is not resolved.

The order of middle names also matters. The first name must appear first on the document, the middle name must appear in the middle, and the last name must appear last. People sometimes get confused because their last names appear first on their driver’s license. Note, however, that on a driver’s license the last name is followed by a comma (“,”) denoting that what follows (i.e. the first name) is in fact what ought to precede and that, therefore, the name that appears first is actually the last name. It is for this reason that “John Alexander Smith” and “Smith, John Alexander” indicate the exact same name.

If you have any questions about any of the above, we encourage you to contact one of our offices, or to email us directly at info@walkinnotary.com.

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New Walk-In Notary Location in Barrie

We are happy to announce that we have opened up a new office in Barrie, Ontario. Our office is located at 92 Caplan Avenue, in the Suiteworks building. As with all of our offices, not appointments are needed – you can just walk in during our office hours. There is plenty of parking in our building parking lot. When you arrive at the main lobby, ask reception for Walk-In Notary.

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POWERS OF ATTORNEY

We are often asked to notarize powers of attorney (POAs). The problem is that there are many ways to notarize a document. Sometimes clients ask us to “just stamp it”. Please note that our seals and stamps are not arbitrary. They must always be accompanied by some sort of statement. We cannot “just stamp” a document.

Let’s explore all the ways that a power of attorney can be notarized:

1) WITNESSING THE SIGNATURE OF THE EXECUTANT

The Executant is the person that is giving away power to someone else. We can notarize an original POA by stating that we witnessed the executant sign it. For this to happen, the Executant has to attend our office with government-issued photo ID and sign in front of us.

WITNESSES

Some powers of attorney do not require witnesses, only a notary’s signature. If that’s the case, bring your POA to our office along with ID that matches the name on you POA and sign it in front of the notary.

However, most powers of attorney, and in particular Ontario powers of attorney, require two witnesses. This means that the executant needs to bring at least one person with them to the office to witness the executant’s signature. The notary can be the other witness, in most cases. In some cases, the POA will require two witnesses in addition to a notarization. That means that you have to bring two witnesses with you.

Please note that your witness has to be a disinterested party that does not stand to gain from you signing the power of attorney. This means that the person you are giving power to cannot be the witness. In many cases, your spouse, child, parent, also cannot act as a witness.

The witness requirements will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from recipient to recipient. Therefore, we urge you to find out the requirements prior to attending our office. Walk-In Notary cannot advise you as to the requirements of your POA because that would constitute legal advice, which we cannot provide. Furthermore, it would be impossible for us to contact and/or learn about the requirements of every type of recipient in every country. We have notarized thousands of POAs that have gone to hundreds of different countries, all with different requirements.

CAN THE WITNESSES SIGN AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND/OR AT DIFFERENT PLACES?

Take a look at this example that can be found at the bottom of many POAs that we come across regularly:

This structure implies that two witnesses are required as well as a notary. The “Before” implies that the notary is to sign in that section. However, by looking at the document all we can do is guess that this is the intention of the recipient and/or whoever drafted the document. That said, let’s assume that in this example you received confirmation that the Executant has to sign in front of two witnesses as well as a Notary Public. The question that comes up is: does everyone have to sign at the same time? The answer is that it depends on the requirements of the recipient. In most cases, from our experience, the most prudent thing to do is to have everyone (Executant, two witnesses, and Notary) sign at the same time and place. However, sometimes this is not possible, or it’s inconvenient. If that’s the case, we urge you to first contact the recipient and obtain confirmation that you can sign in front of a notary and at a later time and place sign again in front of two witnesses, or vice versa (witnesses first then notary).

2) CERTIFIED COPY OF THE POWER OF ATTORNEY

In this case we would make a photocopy of an original POA and state on the photocopy that the copy is a true copy of the original which we have seen. Anyone can bring the original POA for us to certify because we do not need to witness anyone’s signature.

Which is the right method? Should you choose 1 or 2? Or all?

This depends entirely on what you are trying to accomplish and/or what a third-party has requested from you. For example, banks often require a certified copy of a POA for their records. They might instruct you to “Notarize the POA”. If that is the case, seek clarification. Ask: “Do you want me to have a notary witness the signature of the executor or do you want me to have the notary make a copy of the original POA and certify that the copy is a true copy of the original?”

Please note, that in the example above, the Notary will not know what the bank wants from you. You have to find out. At Walk-In Notary, we do not contact third parties (i.e. the recipient) on your behalf. And without communicating with the recipient there is no way to know exactly what they require. You can read more about our policies and requirements on our instructions page.

Finally, please note that you can learn more about Ontario’s POA requirements on the ministry website.

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KITCHENER-WATERLOO, WE ARE MOVING!

WE ARE MOVING!

To serve you better, we are moving from our current location at 51 Breithaupt Street in Kitchener to our new location at:

22 King Street South, 3rd floor, Waterloo, ON., N2J 1N8

 ON: March 14, 2022 

Call: 226-899-4479 (after March 14)

  • Our hours at the new location will be 9:00 AM-4:30 PM Monday to Friday.
  • You will still be able to walk-in; no appointments needed!
  • The building is wheelchair accessible.
  • The location is easily accessible by public transit.
  • There is ample parking in two parking lot; one behind our building and another behind the building across from us. There is also limited street parking.
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Online Comissioning

Whether you are self-isolating, have mobility issues, live far away from one of our walk-in locations, or simply want to have your document commissioned from the comfort of your own home, know that we can assist you with online commissioning.
If you are interested in using this service, please email your completed (but not signed) document AND two pieces of valid government issued photo ID to online@walkinnotary.com
The online commissioning is quick easy and widely accepted. However, you should be aware of some limits to the practice:

1) There are some documents which require an in-person Commissioning or Notarization. We cannot make certified copies, commission Contracts, Consent to travel letters or any other document which specifies that an in person meeting, commissioning or Notarization is required.

2) We cannot Notarize documents online as we cannot affix a physical seal to a digital document – we can only commission (where we sign, stamp but do not affix a Notary Seal).

If you need a Notarization, please check with the recipient to see if online commissioning is sufficient and will be accepted.

3) We do not physically sign the documents through this service. The forms would be signed through an online signing platform during a video meeting.

4) To use the service, you must be able to access a computer/phone with a camera and microphone so that you can access the internet, your email and can attend a video meeting.

5) Payment can be made through Etransfer or credit card payment.

6) If you are unsure of the acceptability of an online commissioning, you should check with the recipient.

7) Online commissioned documents cannot be Authenticated/Legalized.

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RIN Letters for Service Ontario

When registering a vehicle to a company’s name for the first time, a Registrant Identification Number (“RIN”) Affidavit or Declaration is often required. We can assist you with this service at any of our walk-in location. This service cannot be performed through the online service.

Prior to attending our offices, please note the following:

1) The RIN Affidavit must be on your individual company’s Letterhead. This letterhead must include the company name, address and phone number.
If you are drafting your own document, please ensure to print it on your letterhead. It cannot be printed on our letterhead, even when we are drafting the document, as this will not be accepted by Service Ontario.

To this end, if you would like us to assist you with the drafting the document, you can provide us with your letterhead (either a hard copy on which we can print OR a soft copy on which we can draft). If you do not have a Letterhead, we can create one for you.

2) Contents – The letter should be from a company Director and should be addressed to the Ministry of Transportation. It should include the company name and address. It should also specify that they would like to register the vehicle with the Ministry of Transportation (that they endorse the registration of the vehicle by the Ministry of Transportation).

If you have the vehicle information, please include this information.

3) This document must be Notarized – Should be signed by the Director in our presence and signed, dated and Notarized. As mentioned above, the online commissioning of the document will not be accepted by Service Ontario.

4) Please note that Service Ontario can (and sometimes does) change its requirements. For this reason, it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that you adhere to Service Ontario’s requirements. Our blogpost is for general reference and may not reflect changes to Service Ontario’s policies or guidelines.

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Service Ontario (RIN) Registrant Identification Number

Please note that if you require a Registrant Identification Number (also known as RIN) for your vehicle and Service Ontario has requested that you provide  a letter requesting this, we can help. This applies to both personal and corporate vehicle.

These letters have to be notarized. We can draft and notarize the letter. Or you can draft the letter yourself and have us notarize it. You can read more about these requirements on Service Ontario’s website. For our fees please refer to our Fees page.

We can also draft similar documents requested by Service Ontario, such as when making a change in your corporate address.

We ask that you find out all this information prior to attending our office. That is, please find 0ut exactly what Service Ontario needs from you and what their instructions are. We will not be able to determine this on your behalf. As always, we will take our instructions from you, as each person’s situation may be different. We do not provide legal advice.

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Fully Vaccinated!

We are happy to announce that all of our Notaries are fully vaccinated! We take your and our staff’s safety very seriously. We have implemented many measures throughout the pandemic to mitigate everyone’s risk. And it seems that we have been successful because despite meeting with thousands of individuals, so far, none of our offices, notaries, or staff have contracted the virus. Nonetheless, we remain vigilant and continue to implement measures listed on our website.

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New Website

Welcome to our new website. We hope you like it. We have done our best to communicate information as clearly as we can. Over the years we have heard almost every kind of question about notarization. We have done our best to answer many of these questions on this website, in particular on this blog. Therefore, we encourage you to take advantage of this as a resource to help you learn more about how we do things.

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Yes, We’re Open

Despite recent covid-19 restrictions, all of our offices are and will remain open because we are an essential business. Our hours and days of operation are up-to-date and listed on our website.