Why do US title companies, lawyers, courts, mortgage lenders or other parties in the USA so often require UK residents to see a US notary here in the UK?  


Many US-based parties mistakenly presume that "US notaries" or "American notaries" are as common outside the US as within the US.  They sometimes believe that it is simply a matter of you visiting your local US bank in the UK whose bank clerks are somehow all US notaries permitted to act in the UK.  This is clearly not correct.

There are only two types of notaries who are appointed by the US federal government to act outside the USA.  These include (1), those military notaries appointed to notarise on U.S. military bases (who can only assist members of the US military and their families), and (2), those US notaries appointed to operate in US embassies and consulates.


Aside from the above two types of federal US notary, that only leaves notaries appointed by the individual US states, and of course, UK notaries which includes those appointed in England & Wales, those appointed in Scotland, and those appointed in Northern Ireland.In cases where the US-based party understands that there are very few options in seeking the notarisation of a US state appointed or federally appointed notary, they may give up on seeking a US state appointed notary (the vast majority of notaries in the USA) and simply insist that the UK resident arrange an appointment with the US Embassy in London. Unfortunately, it would appear that most Americans believe everyone in the UK lives in or just around London. 


Many of my busy British clients and UK resident American clients throughout the UK are in any event put through great stress in having to travel to London to attend the US embassy for a notarisation.  Attending the US embassy is not at all a pleasant experience.  So why are they put through this rather than simply be able to see a UK notary public local to them?  I don't believe that there is any good reason in fact for requiring travel to the US embassy as it is clear that further to the applicable Hague Convention that a UK notarisation is acceptable. If the situation were reversed, would it not seem an unfair burden to an American citizen resident in the USA to require him or her to travel many hours away to meet with a "British notary" or "UK notary" at one of the few UK consulates in the USA.  Surely then they themselves would then complain as to why they could not simply see a local state appointed American notary?  Notwithstanding this, US entities (especially mortgage lenders) very often insist that UK citizens resident in the UK travel by car or plane for many hours to the US Embassy in London, or the consulates in Edinburgh or Belfast.Generally however, this problem with making so many UK residents travel to the US embassy just comes down to the fact that many see little if any need to change the standard domestic procedures and forms they use everyday for US residents just because someone happens to be outside the USA. Most of the time it comes down to one of the following reasons:1.   US-based parties incorrectly presume that foreign notaries may not be used.US-based parties (mainly here being some US mortgage lenders) often do not know or have not ever researched the relevant law of their own individual US state to determine whether in fact such laws do in fact provide for recognition of notarial acts performed abroad and set out what parties or persons are acceptable to that state for notarisations abroad.  In fact, most, if not all US states in fact recognise the validity of documents notarised abroad by foreign notaries.The laws of states in the United States often make specific provision for the recognition of documents executed outside the United States. In addition to this, many states have enacted legislation similar to the Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgements Act 1968 (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Virgin Islands [US territory]), the Uniform Acknowledgments Act 1939 (amended 1960) (Arkansas, Connecticut, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia), the Uniform Acknowledgments Act 1892 (Louisiana, Massachusetts), Uniform Foreign Acknowledgments Act (Louisiana), and/or the Uniform Law on Notarials 1982 (Delaware, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin) which recognize the admissibility of documents executed outside the United States.It should not be forgotten by US lenders and title insurance companies that the USA is a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents and that they can seek an apostille from the foreign nation's "competent Authority" which authenticates such notarisations for purposes of US law.  In the United States, the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are usually the state's competent authorities.  In the United Kingdom, it is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which is the relevant competent authority.http://www.uniformlaws.org/ActSummary.aspx?title=Law%20on%20Notarial%20Acts,%20Revised2.   The reason is for such a presumption is that there is simply never a problem in finding a notary in the USA. According to the National Notary Association, there are approximately     4.8 million notaries in the USA.  With the USA having a population of approximately 312,631,000 people, this  then is equivalent to a ratio of one notary for every 65 people.  This is a far greater ratio of notaries to the general public than exists in any other country. 3.   US-based parties presume if you call a "local US bank" or a notary's office you will easily be able to make a cheap and prompt appointment. Notaries in the US are generally readily available at a moment's notice and often with no need for an appointment.  Many US banks will notarise documents free for their ustomers.  Notaries appointed by the individual US states are normally  "public notaries" or "notaries public", are not required to be lawyers, and may only notarise documents when they operate within the border of the relevant US state.  By way of example of this jurisdictional limitation, an "American notary" who is a California appointed notary public may not notarise documents when in New York, and certainly not from outside the United States.For most people, the term "American notary" would mean a non-lawyer notary public appointed by one of the US states.   Generally, in the USA anyone may apply for and obtain commission as a notary public of a US state who is at least 18 years of age, and a resident of that US state.  They may be required to have obtained a public bond from an insurance company, and possibly taken some type of notary education course. Most often, US notaries public are employed legal secretaries, paralegals, bank staff, courier or photocopying business staff.  Some US notaries public practice solely as professional notaries, but this is extremely difficult as they are statutorily bound by their states to charge extremely low fees.  For professional notaries, business is only made more difficult to spend the time necessary to carry out their duties as many bank's notaries and others often charge no fees.  From this you can see from a US perspective, notaries are expected to be everywhere, to be readily available, to be inexpensive, and not in a position to question US legal requirements, etc.


As a UK resident (whether British, American, or any other nation's citizens), you may be surprised to find out in your USA sale or purchase that the US title agents / closing agents, or their lawyers will frequently realise fairly late in the matter that you truly are not from what they call "the real world", and that you will not be attending the closing at their office in the USA.


This is where one might wish the USA title company or closing agents would by now understand notarisations in the UK.  Unfortunately, rather than play it smart at such time seek to have the purchasers or sellers make appointments with experienced professional local English notaries, the title company may try to require the sellers or buyers, irregardless of how far away they live from London, to seek to make an notary appointment at the US Embassy in London, or one of the consulates.  However, the title company normally has no idea how fully booked into the next four or five months the available appointments may be (and if there are any available spots at all).


At that point they will likely tell you that you should simply go to your "US bank in your home town" where one of its bank tellers can notarise the documents for free.  When they finally realise that such notaries do not exist in the United Kingdom,  

As most people now have the internet, you would think that US title companies should by now be used to dealing with the rest of the world and would automatically look to send UK resident sellers or purchasers to notaries in the UK.






se to the the domestic notaries which  a local UK notary

Uhh, wake up USA, It will likely be at a very late period in the sale or purchase that they will 


not accept the notarisations of UK notaries when closing documents are due at closing.  This is quite surprising as it is UK notaries who are qualified lawyers and US notaries who are often some goof in a parcel delivery store.


not independent professionals qualified lawyers not subject to the banks or   


Have you been required by an American business entity to sign documents in the presence of a "US notary" or "American notary" in the United Kingdom?



when dealing with USA real estate agents or title companies that you need to find a US notary in the UK. 



visit the US Embassy.





a notarised before a US notary in the UK  you needing to sign a deed or power of attorney or other documents intended for use in the USA before a notary?


Can you imagine how US-based Americans would react if they were told by a British estate agent buying a property in London are 

What is the position of notaries in the United Kingdom?

1.  There are far less notaries in the UK than in the USA.
According to The Notaries Society, there are about 850 notaries in England and Wales.  With England & Wales having a population of approximately 55,209,000 people, this then is equivalent to a ratio of one notary for every 61,343 people (as opposed to the ratio of one notary for every 65 people in the USA).

2.   All UK notaries are lawyers (but not all UK lawyers are notaries).
In seeking to have documents notarised in the United Kingdom for use abroad including the USA, one would normally see a domestic notary public.  In the United Kingdom, a notary public is one of a number of different types of qualified lawyers and will generally charge fees commensurate to those of solicitors in the same region and normally will require that appointments be made at which they will seek to establish the appearing party's identity, capacity, authority, willingness to sign the relevant documents or make any required oath or acknowledgment, and seek to ensure that the notarised document will be accepted in the jurisdiction for which it is intended.
England & Wales:  In England & Wales, a notary public is a member of an independent third branch (in fact being the oldest branch) of the English legal profession.  Contrary to what many believe, the vast majority of solicitors are not notaries.  While notaries public in England & Wales are lawyers in their own right and can practise in all areas of English law save court proceedings, most but not all of the very few notaries public in England & Wales tend to also practice as solicitors.
Scotland:  In Scotland since 2007 the situation is entirely reversed as most but not all solicitors in Scotland are notaries.

Northern Ireland:  Appointment to the office of notary public must be preceded by six years' practice as a solicitor.

3.   Beware of relying on using someone in the UK who is not in fact a notary public.  Some solicitors in the UK unfortunately may seek to notarise documents mistakenly  believing they are entitled to do so.

If you are buying property from a foreign seller, or if you are a title closing agents, pay attention.  Despite what might be stated on the website of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office about it being willing to issue an apostille for the signatures of both solicitors and notaries, the signature of a solicitor is only acceptable in Commonwealth nations and does not constitute a notarisation.  If you are looking for a notarisation, do not rely on the signature of someone who is not a notary.  I have represented UK purchasers of Florida property purchases where Florida title closing agents permitted a UK resident seller to sign a warranty deed in the presence of a solicitor.  In one case the solicitor incorrectly maintained to the Florida title closing agents that there were no notaries in England & Wales.  He was of course wrong (as well as being a Florida civil law notary, I am also a notary in England & Wales), but more importantly, those deeds which were not in fact notarised under UK law were likewise not deemed notarised under US law and such  deeds were invalid.

Are there any US state appointed notaries who are permitted to notarise documents in the United Kingdom?

Only the states of Alabama and Florida have civil law notaries who are lawyers experienced in international matters and who have passed exams to become a member of the National Association of Civil Law Notaries (NACLN).  Of the two states, Florida is the only state which (through the Florida Department of State) has appointed its civil law notaries (or Florida International Notaries) to operate outside of its borders and indeed outside the borders of the United States.

What are my options if I am required to see a US notary in the UK?

Some US parties such as US mortgage lenders, or other parties, have unilaterally chosen not to accept mortgage or other documents notarised by a "foreign" notary and may require UK residents to seek a US notary notwithstanding the clear language of the Hague Convention (to which the USA is a party) and regardless of the fact under the laws of most US states a non-US notary's notarisation may often be valid.  Where you have been informed you must use a US notary, you should always first ask the party requesting this to check the particular US state's statutory provision relating to the notarisation of documents abroad to determine whether you may in fact use a domestic Notary Public, who will be well-equipped to assist you.

If they however insist on you using a US notary, you normally have few choices. You may be told to attend the US Embassy in London, the US consulate in Edinburgh, the US Embassy in Ireland or in the worst situation to actually fly to the USA just to see a notary there.  The notarial services at the US Embassy in London are not always available and the Embassy closed down such services for a number of weeks at least twice last year.  The US Embassy in London normally has about 17 or more days of a wait time.  Very of If you are completing or "closing" on a US property purchase there may not be time.

As the only Florida civil law notary in the UK, I, Kevin Michael Burke, would be happy to assist in the notarisation of US documents.  To the extent that the documents are intended for use in the state of Florida, there is normally no issue with Florida parties however one particular US mortgage lender, BBVA Compass Bank, have changed their policies and have chosen to reject all notarisations from outside the USA, save with exception where they might permit you to see a notary at the US Embassy.

To the extent the documents are to do with notarisation of documents for use in a state other than Florida, you would first need to obtain confirmation from the US entities requiring the documents as to whether they will accept the notarisation of a Florida civil law notary.  Please click on notarial authority above for more information as to the grounds on which a Florida civil law notary is authorised by the state of Florida to notarise outside of the USA.

To the extent the US documents are to do with the filing of a W-7 form (seeking an individual tax identification number (ITIN)), I cannot help in my capacity as a Florida civil law notary but can in my capacity as an English notary public.  With the W-7 form and proof of exceptions you can fortunately use a domestic notary so long as you obtain an apostille from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this instance.

So when are you available?

From offices in Wrington, Bristol, I, Kevin Michael Burke, practice as both a Florida civil law notary and English notary public and would be pleased to assist you in either capacity in your own notarial matters.  I am normally available for appointments between 9am and 5pm Monday to Fridays but appointments can be made in advance for later or occasionally on the weekends. So that you do not make a visit to his office when he is not available please telephone (01934 837280) in advance for an appointment.

I normally see clients at my office in Wrington.  Where commercial or private clients are unable to come to this office because of schedules, disability or for other special reason, arrangements may be made to see them in their offices or business premises, or at another convenient meeting place.  In such cases, the relevant documents may need to be stamped and recorded upon my return to the office following which these shall be returned to you.

If you require US notarial services, we are happy to help.  We provide a full range of fast, efficient and friendly notarial services for private and commercial clients.

For further information call us at 01934 837280 or email info@americannotary.co.uk.



I am Kevin Michael Burke, the owner of this law firm and a lawyer in both the UK and USA.  We welcome you to our firm's website, and have set out below further information about our practice.

In providing USA legal, notarial, and ITIN services, we do business as "American Attorney Services" and such is our registered trading name in the state of Florida.  Our offices are based near the rural village of Wrington, which is about 20 miles southwest of the city of Bristol in England in the United Kingdom. 




My UK legal qualifications and practice:


After moving to the UK in 1999, I took the necessary courses and "QLTT" exam. and was admitted to the roll of solicitors of England & Wales. That same year I became an English solicitor with Bennetts Solicitors, Attorneys & Notaries. from 1999 to 2010.  In 2008, after a two-year course at Cambridge University, I became a notary public in England in Wales (one of the seven types of lawyers in the UK).  In my capacity as a notary public, I continue to act as a lawyer and notary in the UK.  In 2011, I became a full member of STEP (The Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners). After taking the required course and passing the relevant exam in 2013, I was awarded STEP's Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation (England & Wales).


The UK legal and notary services we provide to our clients under the laws of England & Wales generally include but are not limited to the following types of matters:

Notary public services

Will writing services in England & Wales

Commissioner for oaths services

ID-1 identity services



My USA legal qualifications and practice:

I first became a lawyer when I qualified as an Ohio lawyer in 1992. I then qualified as a Florida lawyer (1994) and became a member of the Florida Middle District Federal Court (1995).  In 2003, became a member of the AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  In 2004, I was appointed by the Florida Department of State as a Florida civil law notary (also known as a "Florida international notary").  I am a member of the is a member of the National Association of Civil Law Notaries (NACLN). In 2019, I became a Certifying Acceptance Agent in the USA with which I can help foreign nationals in obtaining ITIN numbers from the IRS. A Certifying Acceptance Agent is a person or an entity (business or organization) who, pursuant to a written agreement with the IRS, is authorized to assist individuals and other foreign persons who do not qualify for a Social Security Number but who still need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to file a Form 1040 with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).



Number of Jurisdictions and Types of Lawyers in the USA:

There is no one legal system in the USA. Instead, there are 51 separate legal jurisdictions in which a lawyer might practice law, such being the 50 different US state legal systems and the national federal court system. 

Another major difference is that there is only one type of lawyer in the USA and he or she can only practice in the US states in which he or she is licensed.

Notwithstanding that US lawyers often refer to themselves as being a "trial attorney", a "divorce attorney", or another practice-related term, there is only one type of lawyer profession in the USA and the term attorney, attorney-at-law, or counselor-at-law, etc., all have the same meaning.  All US lawyers after obtaining their juris doctorate in law school and passing the particular state's bar exams must then apply to be admitted in one or more states' bars. 

There is also a separate federal court system across the US.  Broadly, the federal courts were set up in order to resolve disputes concerning the US Constitution, matters between the individual US states, certain cases where one or more parties are foreign, matters of admiralty law, and bankruptcy matters. Where a British person or other foreign individual or entity needs to file a claim in the USA, the federal courts may often be used.

Many UK based persons contact me by telephone or email and tell me that they need help with a USA matter and/or need an "American" lawyer.   However, further to the above, it should be clear that in dealing with USA legal matters, you generally need to confirm what USA state or states might be relevant. 


Number of Jurisdictions and Types of Lawyers in the UK:

In the UK, there are only three separate legal jurisdictions in which a lawyer might be permitted to practice law, namely; (1), England & Wales, (2) Scotland, and/or (3), Northern Ireland).  


Another big difference between the USA and the UK is that the UK has not just one type of lawyer but instead, has nine different types of lawyers. 

Please note by way of example that just as a Scottish solicitor may not normally appear in an English court unless he or she is also an English solicitor, in the same way, a Florida attorney cannot appear in a New York court unless he or she is also qualified as a New York attorney. 


There is also a separate federal court system across the US.  Broadly, the federal courts were set up in order to resolve disputes concerning the US Constitution, matters between the individual US states, certain cases where one or more parties are foreign, matters of admiralty law, and bankruptcy matters. Where a British person or other foreign individual or entity needs to file a claim in the USA, the federal courts may often be used.



Our US legal services can broadly be divided into one of two groups;

(A), those services which may be carried out by a qualified USA lawyer of any US state, which includes but is not limited to:

* US immigration matters:

        Renunciation of US Citizenship,

        Spousal Visas with UK resident spouse,

        E-2 investment Visas,

        Waivers of Inadmissibility,

* Preparation of US/UK Treaty-based Estate Tax returns

*  Legal opinions concerning federal law   

      *  US ITIN applications (performed as an IRS certifying acceptance agent),

      *  Bankruptcy Searches

      *  Property Searches

(B), those US services in which the relevant work can only be carried out by the lawyers of a particular US state.  Such work would typically include matters concerning land, estate planning, wills, dissolution of marriage, probate, personal injury, and the drafting of legal opinions concerning such matters, etc.:

Our US state legal services are limited to the two US states in which I am licensed (Florida & Ohio)

Florida Civil Law Notary Services

Florida Estate Planning

Florida Revocable Living Trusts

Florida Property Purchases

Florida Property Sales

Florida Wills

Florida Powers of Attorney

Florida Corporations, LLPs, LLCs, & other entities

Florida Civil Litigation

Florida Federal Litigation 

Florida Summary Probate

Florida Admission of a Foreign Will

Florida Family Law & Dissolution of Marriage

Florida Legal opinions

Ohio Legal Opinions


As well as our US federal legal services, and federal legal services, our Florida civil law notary services, and USA Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) services.  


By way of example, we help UK and European individuals and businesses set up business in Florida as well as deal with the execution of necessary documentation so as to be accepted in the US, the UK, and around the world. We seek to provide a pragmatic approach and utilize our extensive experience to create solutions. Because of our ability to provide legal services in the US and UK, we are often the first port of call for transactions involving US and UK matters.




Our clients and the parties we deal with, of course, are not always British and are from all over the world.  



These are individuals and entities that provide legal services as a significant focus of their activity and are authorised and regulated by a regulator that is not an AR under the LSA. 






I and my staff are people-focused.  We know we need to listen to you, our clients.  We need to understand your circumstances, and to know what you are seeking. 

We know lawyers can have a reputation for being difficult to deal with.  However, we do not seek to reinforce that reputation.    

Sometimes a lawyer's questions can help resolve what was thought to be a difficult situation, especially lawyers who have a broad rather than a narrow legal practice.  

 It's important that we get all relevant details in relation to 

Our aim is simple, to provide you with professional high quality legal and notarial services at a reasonable price. We keep things simple and straightforward. You can certainly face more hurdles without the correct legal representation so it is in your interest to carefully research your possible choices.

Say hello to our new website!


I and my staff welcome you to our firm's new website.

Believe it or not, I have spent years on and off working on separate websites for my UK legal & notarial practice and my USA legal & notarial practice.  I would guess this is typical for most smaller law firms and other businesses.   Most such websites projects begin with great ambition but likely never get completed or uploaded onto the internet.  

I started to realise a year or two ago that I need to create one website on which I could finally set forth both my UK legal practice and my USA legal practice.  More importantly, this new website, I hope, will allow me to make to create it myself online and allow me to make changes as the practice of law changes and will help be looking to take advantage of technology through the website to help speed up compliance with opening up new matters and in the creation of letters of engagement both in opening new client matters and in the production of documents, etc.

Hopefully, you, my clients, will notice the new website when I complete the remaining pages and it goes live.


© 2020 by Kevin Michael Burke