Notaries are people with legal training who are licensed by the State to perform certain acts, like witnessing signatures, administering oaths or certifying document. Powers of notaries will vary depending on countries and jurisdictions. However, the seal of a notary always help to give credit and authenticity to a document in a foreign jurisdiction because notaries are widely recognized.
Do notaries exist in Thailand? Yes, they do. But it wasn’t the case many years ago and it’s a little bit complicated. In Thailand, notaries are “Thai Attorneys” with a special license given by the Thai Council of Lawyers. This bar association is formed and works under “The Lawyers Act of 1985”.
Thai notarial stamps that we use at our office.
In Thailand, Lawyers are called in Thai “Tanai Kwam”. These people have a license and can plead in Thai Courts. For an Attorney in Thailand to become “public notary”, he must follow a special legal training course from the Lawyer’s council in order to get their notary’s license or attestation.
You will find below the regulation in Thai language about how Lawyers in Thailand can register to become notaries from the Lawyer's Council of Thailand:
Few years ago, all Thai lawyers could certify documents for their clients but there was no standard about how to do it. Mr Dejudom Krairuek, the President of The Thai Lawyer's Council at that time, thought that Thai lawyers should have standards to notarize documents. This Lawyers association decided to regulate the notarization of documents. The Thai Lawyer's Council of Thailand also sent letters to over 50 countries regarding notarization in Thailand.
However, Thailand has not yet enacted OFFICIALLY an Act of the Parliament for “Notary Public” which could make a problem. At the moment, it's only a regulation of the Thai Lawyer's council. For instance, if you need a document to be used in a Foreign Court of justice, and if the other party contest this document, they could win. They could plead that Thai Law does NOT recognize notarial services, which is true. However, the Thai Council of Lawyers does recognize their own Thai “Notaries”, which are Thai Lawyers with a notary license.
Notary license of Khun Terdpong
During the late Roman Empire, some officials were already authenticating contracts on behalf of the State. These were already acting like notaries. These officials disappeared before being used again, under St-Louis and Philip the Fair. It is in France that the profession of Notary became official in 1539.
In Common Law Countries (UK, USA, Australia, Canada with the exception of Quebec), they have a system with people called “public notaries”. A public Notary can normally take an oath or affirmation and notarize some documents.
Most “Roman Law” based systems have the “Civil Law Notary” (France, Belgium, Quebec, etc.). This notary will have wider powers and functions. The Civil Law Notary will act in non-litigious legal matters, like transferring title deeds, registration of mortgage, drafting “Last Will and Testaments” and can also act as mediator between parties.
Thailand adopted a mixed system of law but notaries are not mentioned in the Civil Code. We believe that the Council of Thai Lawyers decided to establish the functions of notary in Thailand in order to perform some duties related to official documents. The high volume of tourists might also have helped in order to standardize and help the legalization of documents. Today, there are numerous Thai notaries, more or less acting like “Public notaries of Common Law countries”. But in areas like “Isaan”, they are still rare. For example, there were only 2 notaries registered in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima last year and that’s the biggest province in Thailand.
The Hague Convention abolished the requirement of legalization for foreign public document recognized notaries. (see http://www.hcch.net/ to find the convention). It was concluded on 5 October 1961 and it is one of the conventions related to Private International Law.
* Please note that Canada and Thailand were NOT part of that convention on 1st January 2010.
Because Thailand did not sign this treaty yet, the legalization and certification of all the public documents like birth certificate, marriage and death certificate, etc., should be done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the stamp of your embassy in Thailand.
You should always be very careful if you need to notarize or “legalize” a document. Ask the authorities where the document is needed, what kind of “authentification” they will accept. Some jurisdictions will only accept a notarization done at their embassy. (That seems to be the case with USA). Some will accept the signature of any attorney from any jurisdiction. Some will accept notaries of any country if the country does recognize notaries. And sometimes, you might need a certified translation AND a legalization. So, it can be very complicated to know what is needed and you want to avoid to do some work that would be refused before inappropriate.
Acts normally done by Thai notaries:
Thai notaries normally perform the following acts:
This is a stamp for certified translation.
Notaries in Thailand, if they understand English can certify a translation.
Notarial services are increasing because many elderly people have to sign documents required by their government, the pension company, insurance or others and that, often each year. These companies, organizations and governments want to be sure that they are paying a pension to someone still alive and do trust the notary to make that verification.
Price of Thai notaries will vary A LOT from one to another. Be sure that the person signing as notary is really a notary in Thailand and has the proper licenses.
Notarial services at the Australian embassy: