DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO FOREIGN COUNSEL.
The United States is a party to the 1940 Pan American Protocol on Uniformity of Powers of Attorney which are to be Utilized Abroad, 56 Stat. 1376, 3 Bevans 612 (Protocol) along with Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and Venezuela. This treaty provides for the recognition of notarial acts attesting to the identity of the person executing an instrument and to that person’s legal authority to do so. While this is a common function of notaries public in countries with civil law traditions, as a general matter neither federal nor state law in the U.S. have conferred this kind of authority upon notaries public. While certain provisions of the Protocol are intended to be directly enforceable, the Protocol is not intended to confer authorities upon U.S. state notaries beyond those which are conferred by state legal authorities governing notaries. Rather, notarial acts attesting to a person’s legal authority performed in states or territories of the U.S. where notaries are given such authority are to be given full faith and credit in other countries that are parties to the Protocol.
The Department of State has responded to inquiries from U.S. state Secretaries of State as Competent Authorities under the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. Given that the Protocol does not confer additional authority to state notaries, the Department concurs with the U.S. state Competent Authorities’ decisions not to provide apostilles for notarial acts that go beyond the authorities granted to notaries within their states.