Frequently Asked Questions

Dealing with the wedding paperwork for the UK is hard enough but trying to get the correct paperwork in place for a marriage abroad can be a real headache. Knowing what to do, and in what order, and whether it needs to be translated here or abroad and before legalisation or after, can be very frustrating.

Our advice is to follow the instructions that you have been given by the celebrant that you are dealing with overseas and if possible, get a notary involved at the beginning of the process, before you have sent anything to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We deal with documents for use overseas every day and we are entirely fluent in the terminology that this process involves.

You will not be charged for our initial advice, we are here to help and to minimise the stress that this process can cause. It is useful to have someone on the ground here that has been through this before and can effectively translate the instructions that you have been given.

What a couple will need to provide is different for every country, and can even vary between different regions in the same country. We will help you to work with the instructions that you have been given so that everything is in place to enable your special day to run smoothly.

Until very recently it was expected that a power of attorney document signed in the UK would need an Indian High Commission stamp to be accepted as legally binding in India. In fact, the High Commission stamp has not been required since July 2007 but the accepted practice on the ground in India meant that people giving power of attorney in the UK for use in India had to make a trip to London or Birmingham to complete the legal paperwork. However, the High Commission has now advised that those dealing with legal paperwork for India should obtain the FCO apostille and confirmed that the High Commission attestation is no longer available.

Getting the apostille is a postal process and cannot be completed in person unless you are a registered legalisation agent. It is relatively straight forward and it is usual for the notary that has completed the notarisation of the POA to deal with the legalisation application. The document can be returned to you directly in the UK by courier or even sent to India.

For further information about granting power of attorney for India, please get in touch with us.

It is not unusual for airlines to advise passengers who are traveling with children to obtain a notarised consent from both parents, even if the accompanying adult is one of the parents. This has resulted in travellers spending money on legal paperwork that they probably do not need.

There are certain countries that have strict procedures in place regarding taking children out of that country. South America and Eastern Europe are particularly stringent on ensuring that children with that nationality are not being taken out of the country without the express permission of both parents. However, it is unlikely that a British citizen travelling with his/her British child would have any difficulty, unless the child has dual nationality.

Grandparents travelling without either parent should err on the side of caution and it seems that fathers travelling with their children without their mother are more likely to have to answer questions at the airport. A teenaged minor travelling without either parent should carry a notarised consent to avoid any difficulties in foreign airports.

A notarised consent from The Notary Solution will cost £80 plus VAT and will also grant the accompanying adult the power to consent to emergency medical treatment.

In essence, we do not consider that a notarised consent is required in every case but may be necessary or beneficial for specific situations. We are happy to advise on whether we think a notarised consent should be obtained so that you have sufficient information to enable you to make a decision.

The standard legalisation service from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is very good and 90% of the documents that we legalise will go through the main FCO office in Milton Keynes. The fee is £30 per document, the turnaround time is usually less than 48 hours and the FCO has a great deal with the courier company which means that documents can be dispatched by courier at a reduced rate. However, the Milton Keynes office will not guarantee the timescale, which means that if you are dependent upon your document reaching its destination within a specific timeframe, you may need to use the same day legalisation service in London.

This costs £75 per document and you will also need to pay a legalisation agent to take the document for you which costs approximately £30 per document. Plus, you cannot take advantage of the courier rate that the FCO Milton Keynes office has which makes the whole process that much more expensive. Company clients may opt to use the premium service when a transaction is time sensitive and it makes commercial sense to pay a premium for the fastest legalisation service. The other advantage to using the premium service is that the document is in safe hands throughout with the legalisation agent, rather than in the bulk at the Milton Keynes office. However, most private clients opt to use the standard FCO service which we find to be very reliable.

In the UK there are three branches of law practiced by solicitors, barristers and notaries. There is often a cross over between solicitors and notaries and many notaries will be qualified as both a solicitor and a notary public. Some notaries will practice exclusively as notaries - these notaries will usually be non-practising or retired solicitors or they may be specialised notaries with foreign language skills. As a rule of thumb, if your document is going to be used in the UK you can use a solicitor and if it is going to be used abroad, you will need a notary. If in doubt, the notary will be able to advise you on the best and most cost efficient way to deal with your document.

If you have lived or worked abroad at any time, you may be entitled to a foreign pension. Over the last few years, there has been a definite tightening of the requirements relating to pension payments to those living outside of the pension country and it is usual now for those receiving the pension to have to submit a notarised form demonstrating that they are still alive. We are happy to do this for you, but sometimes the pension company will accept a doctors letter so it may be worth checking this first, especially since it is an annual requirement.

If you have assets abroad (e.g. property, time shares, company shares or bank accounts) you need to consider whether you need a foreign will to deal with the asset on your death. It is a common mistake to think that the property will be covered by your UK will or by the intestacy laws in the UK but this is not always the case. If you have a property in Spain for example, you might assume that the property will pass to your spouse on your death but without a Spanish will, the property will be transferred half to your spouse and half to your children.

If your children are under the age of 18 this is going to cause your spouse a huge problem if they wish to sell as they will need a very expensive court order to enable the children to transfer their share. All of this can be avoided with a simple will, which can be drawn up in the UK or Spain and signed before a notary. If you have foreign assets that are not covered by a foreign will, we would be happy to recommend an independent legal advisor who can draft the appropriate will for you.

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