Notaries in Spain vs. the US: What Are the Key Differences You Need to Know?

The origin of notaries in Spain can be traced back to the Roman Empire, where notaries were responsible for recording legal transactions and documents. With the fall of the Roman Empire, notaries continued to serve a similar function in medieval Europe, recording legal and commercial transactions for private citizens and monarchs alike. In Spain, the first notarial records date back to the 10th century, and by the 15th century, notaries were recognized as public officials and began to be regulated by law. Today, notaries continue to play an important role in Spain’s legal system, serving as impartial witnesses and trusted advisers in a wide range of legal transactions.

There are several differences between notaries in Spain and the United States:

Qualifications and training: In Spain, notaries are highly trained legal professionals who are required to hold a law degree and pass a competitive exam to become a notary. In contrast, notaries in the United States are typically appointed by the state government and do not require any legal training.

Scope of authority: Notaries in Spain have a much broader scope of authority than those in the United States. In addition to witnessing and certifying signatures, Spanish notaries are also authorized to draft legal documents, provide legal advice, and even act as arbitrators in certain disputes. In the United States, notaries are primarily responsible for verifying the identity of signatories and administering oaths.

Fees: Notaries in Spain charge higher fees than those in the United States. This is partly due to the additional services they are authorized to provide. In Spain, notaries’ fees are regulated by law and are calculated based on the value of the transaction they are witnessing. The Spanish government sets a scale of fees that notaries are allowed to charge, based on the type of document or transaction involved. This means that the fees charged by notaries are standardized and regulated, helping to ensure fairness and transparency in the process. It’s important to note that in Spain, notaries’ fees are not negotiable, and there is no competition among notaries to drive prices down. However, this also means that consumers can feel confident that they are being charged a fair price for the services they receive.

In the US, notaries typically charge per signature or per notarization, with fees ranging from a few dollars to around $10 per signature. The fees are usually regulated by state law, and notaries are required to follow these regulations. However, the fees may vary depending on the state and the specific notarial act being performed. Additionally, some notaries in the US may offer mobile notary services, which can come with additional fees for travel and other expenses.

Role in real estate transactions: In Spain, notaries play a crucial role in real estate transactions. They are responsible for verifying the legality of the transaction, ensuring that all necessary taxes and fees are paid, and registering the transaction with the appropriate authorities. In the United States, the role of the notary in real estate transactions is more limited.

Public service: Notaries in Spain are considered public officials and are responsible for upholding the law and protecting the public interest. In the United States, notaries are considered to be private individuals who are authorized to perform certain legal functions.

Here are the services that Spanish notaries provide, according to the official website of the Consejo General del Notariado in Spain.

In conclusion, while notaries in Spain and the US share some similarities in their role as legal professionals, there are also significant differences in their training, certification, and responsibilities. Spanish notaries are highly regarded and play a crucial role in ensuring the validity and legality of important documents and transactions. They also offer legal advice and can act as intermediaries in certain types of disputes. In contrast, US notaries primarily serve as witnesses to the signing of documents and are not authorized to provide legal advice. Understanding these differences can be helpful for individuals who need to engage with notaries in either country, and can ensure that they receive the appropriate services and guidance they need.