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A young notary at his desk (around 1830)

The notary (from Latin notārius , 'speed writer ' ) is a person who certifies and notarizes legal transactions, facts, evidence and signatures. He is also responsible for depositing money and valuables.

Main activities

Notary (painting by Quentin Massys , 16th century)

The main activity of the notary is the certification of legal transactions of any kind and of factual determinations (e.g. certification , bill protest , certificate of assessment). He is obliged to be independent and impartial, which distinguishes him from a lawyer who represents the interests of a party. The core activity of the notary relates to the following areas of law:

A number of legal transactions expressly named by the legislature, such as property purchase agreements, company formation agreements or inheritance agreements, require notarial certification; others, such as wills, can optionally be notarized. Notarized contracts can, but do not necessarily have to be drawn up by the notary. The draft contract can also be drawn up by the parties themselves or by lawyers.

A special feature of the notarial deed, if it is appropriately designed in Germany and some other countries, is that the claims contained therein are "immediately enforceable". This means that the claims can be enforced without prior legal action. For example, the seller of a property can enforce his claim to payment of the purchase price by means of state coercion ( bailiff, etc.) without having to sue the buyer for payment beforehand.

The notary is obliged to look after the parties involved in the document and to advise them comprehensively on legal issues so that he can record their will in a document. A notary may not refuse to act without a valid reason . Because of the impartiality and neutrality of the notary's office, the notary is not allowed to take action in matters that affect him or his close relatives . In principle, the German notary may not leave his area of ​​office (usually the district court district) for his official acts, but everyone can go to a notary of his choice. The notary information of the Federal Chamber of Notaries contains all active notaries, you can also search for language skills there.

Clarification and instruction are further official duties of the notary, in the event of non-compliance the notary is liable with his entire property. He is legally obliged to take out professional liability insurance . The notary himself determines the amount of liability insurance; however, it must amount to at least EUR 500,000 per insured event ( Section 19a BNotO).

An official seal is available for the notary to exercise his official duties . He has to keep a certificate role. If funds are deposited with the notary, he has to set up special escrow accounts . An escrow account is intended to properly manage deposited funds (from sales contracts). However, it may only be used if there is a special security interest (often when purchasing a piece of property).

If the notary is prevented from exercising his office for a certain period ( vacation ), the supervisory authority (this is usually the president of the district court in whose district the notary has his official seat) Notary representative "appointed. If a notary position is vacant (due to the death of the notary, resignation, removal from office or transfer of the notary to another notary position), a notary administrator (formerly: "notary administrator" ) is appointed and active until the position is filled .

The notary in Germany

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the notary acts as an independent public authority for the certification of declarations of intent in the field of preventive administration of justice. The profession is one of the classic chamber professions .

The notary, although he exercises a public office , is a free profession . He does not practice any trade. There are currently around 7,000 notaries in office in Germany. Depending on the region, either full-time notaries (so-called notaries-only) or lawyer notaries who are also admitted as lawyers can be found.

The professional law of the notary is regulated nationwide in the Federal Notarial Code (BNotO). Notaries have to be independent and impartial and are subject to confidentiality . They are subject to state supervision by the state administration of justice.

Appointment to the notary

So far, only a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany who has acquired the qualification to hold the office of judge in accordance with the Judges Act (“fully lawyer”) has been allowed to be appointed as a notary . Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice on May 24, 2011, the citizenship reservation was lifted. The Professional Qualification Assessment Act does not apply, Section 5 Sentence 2 BNotO. In addition, only those who have been admitted to the bar for at least five years and who have been working full-time as a lawyer for at least three years without interruption in the envisaged area of ​​office should be appointed as lawyer notary; from May 1, 2011, the lawyer notary must also have passed the notarial examination . The first-time applicant for a notary's office must not be older than 60 years at the time the application is submitted.

Only as many notaries are appointed as the requirements of an orderly administration of justice. In contrast to the legal profession, access to the notarial profession is not free, but rather limited by the need for an appropriate supply of notarial services to those seeking law. The numerically limited notary assessor positions are usually advertised and awarded by way of the best selection.

The notary is appointed for life. At the end of the month of his 70th year of age, he enters into retirement by virtue of reaching the age limit.

If the notary has a. D. still admission as a lawyer, under certain conditions he can also be appointed as a notary's representative beyond the age of 70 if this is requested by a regular notary of the district court who is unable to attend due to vacation, illness or other reasons and then acts as a substitute.

The official title of “notary” or “notary” is protected by law.

Freelance notary

Full-time notaries

Embossed seal (paper) of a Bavarian notary in Munich
Werner Liebenthal's Prussian notary's office in Martin-Luther-Strasse (Berlin) , who was banned from working on July 6, 1933 after the introduction of the so-called professional civil servants law

There are full-time notaries in Baden-Württemberg (since January 1, 2018 only), in Bavaria , Brandenburg , Hamburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia , in Rhineland-Palatinate , in Saarland , in Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia . The full-time so-called Nur-Notariat or Rheinische Notariat goes back to a French revolutionary decree of October 6, 1791, which was introduced in the areas on the left bank of the Rhine annexed by France in 1798 and 1801, in the areas annexed in north-west Germany in 1811. T. still applies today. Through the so-called Ventôse law of March 16, 1803 and the ordinance on the chambers of notaries of December 24, 1803, a separate chamber of notaries was set up in each of the Rhenish arrondissements.

Full-time notaries are not allowed to pursue any other paid official work or any other commercial occupation. Paid secondary employment may only be carried out upon application to and with the approval of the competent supervisory authority, as may work on the board of directors, on the supervisory board or as a consultant to a company. The lawyer notary, on the other hand, can also practice the professions of lawyer, patent attorney, tax advisor, auditor or sworn accountant.

The number of full-time notaries has steadily decreased over the years to currently (as of 2019) 1,714 public officials. (For the development in Baden-Württemberg see below.)

Notary Assessor

In order to become a full-time notary, one must apply for a position as a notary assessor at the judicial administration of the country in which one later wants to work as a notary. Only those who are professionally and personally suitable are appointed as notary assessors. The notary assessor is referred to a notary for training by the local chamber of notaries for a certain period of time. At the same time, he must represent notaries who are on vacation or sick in the entire chamber district. The service as a notary assessor usually lasts for three years.

The notary assessor can apply for vacancies in his chamber district. If his application is successful, he will be appointed as a notary by the State Justice Administration after hearing the Chamber of Notaries. He is assigned an official seat. The official area of ​​a notary usually includes the district of the district court in which the notary has his official seat. The district of the notary is in turn the area of ​​the higher regional court district in which the notary has his official seat.

Attorney notaries

Judicial districts that occupied the position of notary as a secondary occupation with a lawyer before April 1, 1961, must continue to do so. Legal notaries can therefore be found in the Württemberg jurisdiction of Baden-Württemberg , in Berlin , Bremen , Hesse , Lower Saxony , parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein .

In order to become a lawyer notary, the applying lawyer must have at least five years of professional experience and have worked as a full-time lawyer for three consecutive years in the area in which he wishes to work. To do this, he must have completed certain advanced training courses. Since May 2011, the lawyer must also have passed the notarial examination. In addition, he must provide evidence that he has worked at least 160 hours in the notary's office, which can take the form of internships or as (vacation) representative of a notary. The appointment of a lawyer notary is like that of a full-time notary. In order to become a notary at all - also as a notary who is also a lawyer - strict legal requirements must be met: The lawyer-notary exercises state power like the full-time notary, which was previously reserved for the courts. Because of the sovereignty of their activities, notaries use the state coat of arms and carry an official seal.

The lawyer notary has two professions: he is a lawyer and at the same time a notary. In each individual case of his professional activity he must clearly state (e.g. when signing documents) whether he works as a lawyer or notary. As a notary, he is subject to the Federal Notarial Code without restriction; he is the independent and impartial advisor for those involved. As a lawyer, he has to observe the professional regulations that apply to lawyers. It is an independent judicial authority and has to act in part in the interests of its client.

The number of lawyer notaries has steadily decreased over the years to currently (as of 2019) 5331 professionals.

Notaries in the state service in Baden-Württemberg (until 2017)

For historical reasons, special features continued to apply in Baden-Württemberg until December 31, 2017. Until then, the official notary was the standard form in this federal state. In addition to the notarial competence, notaries in the state service were also assigned tasks of the land register and estate judge, and in the Württemberg legal area also certain responsibilities of the supervisory judge. In addition to the notaries in the state service, only notaries and in the Württemberg legal area also notaries at lawyers could already be appointed. In the coalition agreement of the CDU / FDP state government for the 14th legislative period, however, a notarial reform towards the notarial-only office was envisaged. The reform was initiated after some resistance and poured into legal form through the amendment of the Federal Notarial Regulations (Section 114 BNotO, newly created, January 1, 2018 Art. 1 of the law on the processing of state notaries in Baden-Württemberg). Since January 1, 2018, notaries can only be appointed full-time in Baden-Württemberg. The previous notaries in the state service were able to apply for the intended vacancies, but had to give up their previous official status. Notaries who decided to remain civil servants lost their certification authority when the reform came into force and were assigned other tasks (land registry offices, local courts).

Notary fees

Notaries charge nationwide fees for their activities in accordance with the Court and Notary Fees Act (GNotKG). Deviating cost agreements with reduced or increased costs are prohibited and ineffective. The cost calculations are checked by the district court president or a notary's office ( A. d. Ö. R. , only in the Free States of Bavaria and Saxony) every four years. This guarantees the impartiality of the notary. As a rule, an official business of the notary is assigned to statutory fees based on a cost table. The notary fees are not based on the effort, but on a so-called business value that is independent of the service. In the case of a property purchase, this is usually the purchase price (Section 47 sentence 1 GNotKG). The fees do not increase linearly, but are designed to be strongly degressive.

On June 27, 2013, the German Bundestag passed the Cost Law Modernization Act II in the version of the mediation result of June 26, 2013. Part of this law is the new GNotKG (Court and Notary Fees Act), which came into force on August 1, 2013 and regulates the remuneration of notaries. Compared to the previous KostO , the GNotKG represents a fundamental and structural change in the remuneration of notaries, with the declared aim of the legislature to make the compensation of notaries more performance-oriented and clearer and to adapt it to the general income trend. The last reform and adjustment of notary fees took place in 1987.

Notaries often refuse to submit a binding cost estimate prior to taking action (performing the certification or certification ), as the exact assessment of a transaction can only be made when the content of the document is known in all parts. Information can, however, be obtained at any time from the Chamber of Notaries or Notaries' Fund, but is not binding on the notary.

Notary liability

The notary is liable for the damage caused by negligent and willful breaches of official duties in accordance with Section 19 of the Federal Notary Code in conjunction with Section 839 of the German Civil Code (BGB). The third party notice against a notary in civil proceedings is a popular means of a. to get the help of the notary in court and to prevent the statute of limitations of claims against the notary. The courts in Germany still allow this and will also use the findings of the first trial against the notary in the subsequent process. This raises important concerns because the notary must always remain neutral when the parties argue, for example, over a deed that he has drawn up.


The notary as an independent holder of a public office (§ 1 BNotO ) is subject to strict professional requirements and rules in the exercise of his official activity. The office of notary expires when a certain age limit (70th year of age) is reached or due to other reasons for expiry according to § 47 BNotO. In order to maintain the reliability and reputation of his profession, the notary is to be removed from his office under mandatory conditions. These requirements are regulated in numbers 1 to 10 of Section 50 (1) BNotO. The supervision of notaries according to §§ 92 ff. BNotO.

Criticism related to money laundering

According to the German FIU , of over 77,000 suspicious transaction reports on possible money laundering in 2018, almost all came from banks and financial service providers (over 76,000), while only eight came from notaries. The reason for this is that notaries, like the other holders of professional secrecy such as lawyers and tax consultants, have so far only been allowed to submit a report if they had positive knowledge of the money laundering. In cases of mere suspicion of money laundering, they were prohibited from submitting a report due to their statutory duty of confidentiality, unlike the banks, for example. In order to increase the number of reports by professional confidentiality holders, the legislature therefore changed the Money Laundering Act on January 1, 2020. In the future, an ordinance that has yet to be issued will define a catalog of particularly money laundering-relevant cases in which notaries must always submit a report to the FIU. The Federal Chamber of Notaries campaigned for this change in the law.

It is sometimes claimed that notaries are hardly controlled in Germany with regard to possible money laundering, despite their central role in real estate transactions, which often involve money laundering. Representatives of the citizens' movement Finanzwende are therefore demanding greater control of notaries in connection with money laundering. Notaries are subject to strict supervision by the district court presidents.


Public notary in Baden near Vienna

In Austria, the notary's office is uniformly regulated nationwide. The most important legal bases are the following three federal laws: the Judicial Commissioners Act, the Notariatsaktsgesetz and the Notariatsordnung.

In Austria, three central groups of activities form the legally determined sphere of activity of the notaries, namely firstly the activity as court commissioner within the framework of the Austrian district jurisdiction, especially in probate proceedings , secondly (on the basis of § 1 of the Austrian NO) the establishment of public documents (notarial acts, minutes, certifications , other "notarizations") and thirdly (on the basis of § 5 of the Austrian NO) the drafting of private documents (in particular "real estate contracts", such as gift, condominium and purchase agreements including trust transactions, company law contracts, family law and inheritance law documents such as wills, whereby individual legal acts are to be designed by the notary as public documents) and legally-friendly takeover of liquidations mainly in non-dispute proceedings (especially in land register proceedings , commercial register proceedings and probate proceedings) as well as in administration procedure (e.g. in the basic transaction procedure). Notarial deeds can be enforceable in Austria like legally binding court judgments (§§ 3 ff NO). The notarial certification is not only an official certification of the correctness of a signature, but also indicates the legal capacity of the signing party. Since January 1, 2019, the notarizing notary has also had to ascertain as part of the certification process whether the signing party is familiar with the content of the document and whether the signature is free of compulsion, which must also be confirmed in the certification clause.

The main task and central importance of the Austrian notary's office should be the constructive and preventive legal support of the population. The notary's office is functionally a state administration of justice. From his function as a public notary, from the lending (the official positions are advertised publicly, the appointment is made by decision of the Federal Minister of Justice), from the legal assignment of the judicial commissioner tasks and from the classification of the notary among the public enforcement agencies Qualification of the Austrian notary's office as a public office in a functional, not in a service-law sense.

In Austria, the separation model (system of the “only notary”) applies. The profession of notary is to be practiced full-time and essentially exclusively. The simultaneous exercise of other professions is fundamentally incompatible. Teaching at a university, for example, is not incompatible with the impartial function of the Austrian notary, provided that the proper performance of official duties in individual cases is not affected.

The systemisation of the official offices (determination of the location and number of official offices in the federal territory) through ordinances of the Federal Minister of Justice is to guarantee comprehensive, uniform legal support. There are currently 521 official offices in Austria (as of January 2020). Currently around 12% of notaries in Austria are women and around 45% of prospective professionals (notary candidates).

A notarial candidate is a lawyer employed by a notary who is entered in the list of notarial candidates maintained by the local chamber of notaries. Several years of practical work as a notary candidate is one of the prerequisites for the appointment of an independent notary in order to guarantee relevant professional experience.

The notary substitute is a representative of the notary. Since the notary is called upon to continuously notarise the population of his district, the representation is regulated precisely by law. Representation is carried out by a substitute to be appointed by the president of the local regional court (usually another notary or a certified, long-standing notary candidate). This applies to all activities of the notary to which he is authorized or obliged. This representation regulation is intended to serve both legal security and the comfort of the parties.

The notary in Switzerland

Types of notarial services in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the organization of the notary's office is the responsibility of the cantons . Art. 55 of the final title to the Swiss Civil Code states that the cantons determine the manner in which the public notarization is carried out on their territory. Training and the fee schedule are also regulated by cantonal law.

Public authentication as a qualified form of written form, on the other hand, is an institute under federal law. Federal law then sets certain minimum requirements for public notarization which the cantons must observe. In certain individual areas, the federal legislature has also drawn up its own rules, in particular in inheritance law for public dispositions of death.

The Institute for Notarial Law and Notarial Practice at the University of Bern, founded in 2003, serves to research the notarial system .

Due to the canton's jurisdiction, Switzerland has three forms of notarial service:

Professional notary

The freelance or Latin notary's office applies in the cantons of French-speaking western Switzerland ( Geneva , Vaud , Neuchâtel , Friborg , Valais , Jura ), the Italian-speaking southern Switzerland ( Canton Ticino ) and some cantons of German-speaking Switzerland ( Basel-Stadt ), some of which are also more western , Bern , Aargau , Uri ). In this notarial system, the notary is a free, academic and independent profession, separate from administration and jurisdiction. In the pure Latin notary's office (also notarial-only ), which applies in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud, for example, it is not permitted to practice any other profession in addition to the full-time notarial profession. In other cantons such as Bern, on the other hand, many notaries work as lawyers at the same time, which is why we also speak of lawyers' notaries here .

In addition to practical training, the prerequisite for the professional notary is a degree in law. The professional notaries are organized in the Swiss Notaries Association SNV FSN .

Official notary

The cantons of Zurich and Schaffhausen only know the official notary's office. According to this system, the notary is a person employed by the cantonal administration.

Official notaries are regularly trained through a commercial and administrative apprenticeship followed by a profession-specific legal degree at a university.

Mixed notary's office

The cantons of Basel-Landschaft , Solothurn , Lucerne , Zug , Obwalden , Nidwalden , Schwyz , St. Gallen , Thurgau (official notary until the end of 2012), Appenzell Ausserrhoden (official notary until the end of January 2010), Appenzell Innerrhoden , Glarus and Graubünden know different mixed forms between the professional notary and the official notary. The responsibility of the notary persons is defined according to subject areas, although there are sometimes considerable differences between the respective cantons. In cantons in which, for example, land registry transactions are reserved for the official notary, but other transactions such as marriage or inheritance contracts as well as wills can also be notarized by freelance notaries, one speaks of the free small notary's office .

European Union

St-Aulaye 24 Pannonceau notaire3 2013.jpg

To make it easier to search for a notary in the European Union, a search function was opened on the e-justice platform of the European Union on December 8, 2014 : "How do I find a notary?" This search function was jointly developed by the Council of European Lawyers ( CCBE) and the EU Commission (also for lawyers). So far, notaries from 23 EU member states can be searched for and found by city, name and language skills.

The Müdener Theses from 2002 deal with the future of the notarial profession in Germany and Europe.


Notary (woodcut, 17th century)

In the late antique-early Byzantine empire there was the office of state scribe at the imperial office . H. Chancellery officials ( Greek . Notarios , Latin . Notarius ) as well as court and community clerks (Greek. Taboularios , Latin. Tabularius ). In the cities, professional document writers (Greek. Symbolaiographos , lat. Tabellio ) organized in professional associations worked as credible witnesses of solvency with the task of issuing documents to witnesses for private individuals. The Byzantine notarial office of the early Middle Ages is based on this tradition, including in the Byzantine parts of Italy (e.g. Venice , the Exarchate and the Katepanate ), which were not affected by the Lombards' conquest .

In southern Italy, Frederick II's constitutions of 1231 made the necessity of having documents certified by a judge less important. In central and northern Italy, the self-confidence of the notaries increased with the increasing interest in Roman law and the improved legal training, especially at the University of Bologna . The detachment of the northern Italian cities from the Reichsverband placed notarii sacrii palatii or notarii domini imperatoris as well as city notaries. The legal discussion of the 12th and 13th centuries was therefore particularly devoted to the question in which areas the instrumenta issued by the city notaries should be valid. The credibility of the notaries appointed by the Pope, like that of the imperial notaries, was unlimited.

In Germany, the notary and the notary deed spread from France in the 13th and 14th centuries in connection with spiritual jurisdiction, for which a publicly credible notary was required. Since the 15th century, it has been removed from the context of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but without being able to assert itself against the practice of sealing as the primary authentication of documents. The notary's office found legal regulations throughout Germany in the Reich Chamber Court Code of 1495 and finally in the Reich Notariate Code of 1512.

The notarial deeds of the Middle Ages are certified exclusively by the signature of the notary, which is accompanied by a sign typical for the notary ( notary's signet ).

In the early Middle Ages, the notary was only known in Italy; from the 12th century onwards, he also came north of the Alps . He must have specialist knowledge and master the ars notariae . The development of canon law in the 12th century was decisive for the further training and Europe-wide expansion of the notarial profession, because the notarial deed had a higher evidential value than other written evidence. In order to be considered a notarial deed, the document had to be drawn up correctly.

The founder of the ars notariae is Rainerus Perusinus , the author of the first scholarly representation of this art around 1230. Well-known, trend-setting regulations of the notarial art are the Summa artis notariae (1256) by Rolandinus de Passagerius (also called Summa Rolandina ), Wilhelm Duranti's works and the Reichsnotariatsordnung, which was passed at the Reichstag in Cologne in 1512. It remained valid until 1806.

Notaries are part of the urban elite. You also work in the city administration. They receive their legitimation from the authorities (for example the emperor, king or pope). In 1355 Emperor Charles IV created the dignity of the Court Palatinate Count ( comes palatinus caesareus ), who u. a. was authorized to appoint notaries. The elevation into the status of the notary was connected with examinations and proof of qualification. A Collegium scriptorum archivii Romanae curiae notariorum was established in Rome in 1507 . The committee was responsible for the examination and overview of the notaries. Universities have also appointed notaries since the 16th century. A decretal of Innocent III. prohibits notaries the higher ordinations.

The number of notaries in the - especially Italian - cities is very large. Trento had over a hundred in the 16th century. In the city of Toulouse in the south of France, no fewer than 3,984 notaries are attested for the period between 1266 and 1337. The profession is organized in colleges and guilds. In some Italian cities, notarial colleges have retained their own houses, for example in Bologna and Perugia .

In the course of the 13th century, especially in the second half, the notary's office spread north across the Alps. The reception processes were mainly carried out geographically in the Valais , Graubünden and South Tyrol regions. The spread from the northern part of Italy was not only due to the increasing trade between Germany and Italy, which demanded greater written form. Since the 13th century, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction has also required the negotiations to be in writing and postulated notaries to keep the minutes. The notary is the persona publica who had to be present during the process and to record it. The logging of all negotiations before the official courts of all dioceses had become mandatory since the IV Lateranense (1215).

The first secure evidence from public notaries north of the Alps comes from the 1350s on the Middle Rhine . At about the same time there are evidence of this in France: in the areas bordering Burgundy and western Switzerland, and in Geneva . In the second half of the 13th century also in Bohemia, Austria; then also in northern Germany. The notary's office was fully established here until the middle of the 14th century, with the prevailing impression for a long time that it was a spiritual institution. This characteristic ceased to exist in the 15th century. At this later time, as in Italy, the notary was on an equal footing with a professional scribe.

Comparative law on the notarial profession

Office of a notary in Vigo , Spain

In most of the states of continental Europe, the professional profile of the notary is Roman-Germanic-legal , i.e. H. the notary who is an independent and impartial advisor and to whom his office is conferred by the state as a public office. The freelance notary, which has its origins in late antique-early Byzantine law , is traditionally represented in Germany , Belgium , France , Greece , Italy , Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Austria , Western Switzerland and Spain . In Central and Eastern Europe, Albania , Bosnia-Herzegovina , Estonia , Croatia , Latvia , Lithuania , Moldova , North Macedonia , Poland , Romania , Russia , Slovakia , Slovenia , the Czech Republic , Bulgaria and Hungary have accepted the professional notary's office. The professional notary is also widespread outside of Europe. The professional organizations from 76 countries with professional notaries have come together in the International Union of Notaries (UINL). In Europe, the French-style separation model is predominant within the freelance tradition (characterized by the full-time notary-only office). Professional notarial services are only available in parts of the USA ( Louisiana ) and Canada ( Québec ), which were formerly subject to French law : notarial services in Québec, but notarial services or lawyers in Louisiana.

The official seal of a notary public from the
US state of New York embossed on a self-adhesive sealing star

The Anglo-American legal notary ( public notary or notary public ) is to be classified completely differently . In Great Britain and the countries that are accepted under English law (e.g. India , Australia , Hong Kong ), the notary usually only has the task of certifying signatures and copies and handing over the original documents of assessment. However, there is neither legal advice nor legal certification. The notary - appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury - is appointed for life as a freelance notary, but his notarial services are limited to international deed. The common law notary can take legally required or permitted oaths, confirm the binding legal validity of property transfers, powers of attorney, wills and other seal and witness documents (so-called deeds ) in legal transactions, issue check, bill of exchange and sea ​​protest certificates and letters from bodmeries and respondents , charter contract and general average -Verpflichtungsschein notarize. When accepting affidavits , he performs judicial functions and can order witness interviews and coercive measures. In contrast to English practice, the notary in the United States is not a lawyer but a notarizing officer and his job is limited to notarizing signatures and copies for domestic use. To make it easier to distinguish, the Roman-Germanic notary -only is referred to in English as a civil-law notary .

The official notary's office is also to be distinguished from the freelance notary's office , whereby public (mandatory for evidence) documents are made by sworn official-notaries. As a rule, the draft of the certificate is carried out by an advisory, freelance lawyer. The document is then notarized by the “official notary” of the office responsible for the matter ( land registry , civil registry office , commercial register office , etc.). In most of the cantons of Eastern Switzerland and in Baden-Württemberg (until December 31, 2017), this form of organization of notarial activity predominates.

A comparable system used to be the pure state notarial office of Portugal , in which notarial offices existed as independent offices, but had the character of an authority. Here, too, notaries were civil servants and the advisory function only played a subordinate role (further information under the keyword official notary ). Although the Portuguese notarial constitution at that time showed strong similarities to the English model, the Portuguese notarial office was traditionally usually assigned to the Latin circle.


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  • Mathias Schmoeckel , Werner Schubert (Ed.): Handbook for the history of the notary's office of European traditions . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-4068-3 .
  • P.-J. Schuler: History of the southwest German notary's office . 1976 (with further literature).
  • P.-J. Schuler: Southwest German notarial signs. With an introduction to the history of the German notary's sign . 1976.
  • Petra Schulte : 'Scripturae publicae creditur'. The basics of trust in notarial contracts in Italian municipalities (12th / 13th centuries) . Tübingen 2003 (Library of the German Historical Institute in Rome 101).
  • Hans von Voltelini (ed.): The South Tyrolean notarial imbreviatures of the 13th century, part 1 (Acta Tirolensia 2), 1899, ND 1973 (with a fundamental introduction to the history of the institutions).
  • Wagner / Knechtel: Austrian Notarial Code, 6th edition. 2006.
  • Helmut Weingärtner (Ed.): Notary law . 9th edition. Heymanns publishing house, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-452-26926-3 .
  • Stephan Wolf (Ed.): Commentary on the notarial law of the Canton of Bern . Bern 2009 (publications by INR 9).
  • Stephan Wolf (Ed.): Swiss Code of Civil Procedure and Notaries . Bern 2010 (publications by INR 11).

Web links

Wiktionary: Notary  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Notary  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Notaries  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Notary information on
  2. As of January 1, 2015, 7156, according to "Notary statistics: number of notaries in the years 2013 to 2015 (reference date: January 1 each)." In: DNotZ 2015, 241 f.
  4. Marcus Rohwetter: The seal cartel. The European Commission wants to impose more competition on notaries. But with clever arguments, the lawyers ensure that everything stays as it is. zeit-online (, February 20, 2003, accessed on July 6, 2012 .
  5. § 2 BNotO ; on a case in which a notary was forbidden to call himself a “notary”, see State Court of Hesse, decision of June 12, 1953, file number P. St. 133.
  6. § 132a StGBpresumption of office
  7. a b Notary statistics of the Federal Chamber of Notaries
  8. § 48a BNotO
  9. General Customs Directorate (ed.): Annual report 2018 . Cologne 2019 ( [PDF]).
  10. ^ Government draft of the law to implement the amending directive to the fourth EU money laundering directive. Retrieved March 30, 2020 .
  11. Notaries take on a stronger role in the fight against money laundering | Federal Chamber of Notaries. Accessed March 31, 2020 .
  12. a b Organized crime - Why the police have such a hard time. Retrieved on February 26, 2020 (German).
  13. ↑ The planned law against money laundering annoys the notaries. Retrieved February 26, 2020 .
  14. Federal law of November 11, 1970 on the activity of notaries as agents of the court in proceedings other than disputes (Court Commissioners Act - GKG)
  15. Law of July 25, 1871, regarding the requirement of the notarial establishment of certain legal transactions (Notariatsaktsgesetz)
  16. Notarial Regulations (NO)
  17. ^ Wagner / Knechtel: Notarial Regulations 6 § 79 NO E 25.
  18. Find a notary in your area. Retrieved January 28, 2020 .
  19. ^ Institute for Notarial Law and Notarial Practice at the University of Bern .
  20. Distribution information according to the Institute for Notarial Law and Notarial Practice of the University of Bern ( Memento of April 26, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) and the homepage ( Memento of July 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) of the Swiss Association of Notaries .
  21. Swiss Association of Notaries .
  22. Thurgau lawyers can authenticate from 2013 , Tagblatt dated December 4, 2012.
  23. New Notarization Act applies from February 1st ( memo of December 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), Appenzell Ausserrhoden homepage.
  24. EU-wide notary search .
  25. ^ Christian Neschwara: History of the Austrian notary's office. Vienna 1996.
  26. On Wallis and Graubünden Ferdinand Elsener: Notaries and town clerks: On the history of the Swiss notary's office. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 1962. ISBN 978-3-663-00885-9 , doi: 10.1007 / 978-3-663-02798-0 .
  27. ^ On South Tyrol Hannes Obermair : Written form and documented tradition of the city of Bozen up to 1500 - patterns, forms, typologies. In: »cristallîn wort«. Hartmann studies. Vol. 1. LIT Verlag, Münster 2008. ISBN 978-3-8258-1097-9 , pp. 33-58, doi: 10.13140 / RG.2.1.1126.1204 .
  28. ^ Jean-Yves Sarazin: Bibliographie de l'histoire du notariat français (1200–1815). Lettrage Distribution, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-915714-00-2 .