The Role of Official Document Translation in International Activities

Perhaps you need to sell real estate in Argentina, and you need to appoint someone via a Special Power of Attorney to take care of the closing for you. To be accepted in Argentina, that Special Power of Attorney must be translated into Spanish. Maybe you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, and all your documents required by the authorities there are in French and need to be in Spanish.  Perhaps you want to enrol in an educational program in France, and your transcripts must be in French to complete your application. You plan on getting married in Cuba, and your wedding planner has just advised you that your birth certificate and Affidavit of Single Status need to be in Spanish.

Downtown Notary has recently added Official Document Translation services to its roster of service offerings after receiving many requests from people who find themselves in the situations set out above, or in a myriad of other circumstances requiring both individuals and companies to have documents translated from French to English, Spanish to English, English to French, English to Spanish, Spanish to French and French to Spanish. 

Official document translation is the translation of documents issued by government entities and other officially recognized institutions. Official documents comprise a large variety of documents, a non-exhaustive list of which can be found here. Certified translations mean that the translation is also certified by the translator preparing a certificate of accuracy that is attached to the front of the translation. A certified translation can be prepared by a certified translator, i.e. a translator who has been certified by the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario, or other accrediting body, or a non-certified translator who affixes the certificate of accuracy.  Notarized translations are certified translations that have also been notarized by a notary public. A notary public does not confirm the contents or accuracy of the translation, rather, they witness the translator’s statemen of accuracy.  Most governments, embassies, consulates, and other major institutions such as banks, educational institutions, religious organizations, and employers require translations to be certified before they will be accepted outright, or in order to proceed to the next steps of authentication and legalization.

Please note that it is important that the translation be prepared in accordance with the specifications set by the recipient institution to ensure acceptance.  Downtown Notary will work with you to ensure those requirements are met.

We offer a one-stop shop for clients with personal matters and business in French- and Spanish-speaking countries by providing official documents translations, certified translations, notarized translations, notarizations, authentication, legalization and drafting of documents required by embassies and consulates, such as affidavits. We can assist with translating and notarizing documents for use in all French- and Spanish-speaking countries.

To obtain a free quote, go the Downtown Notary website at and submit the requested information.

This blog post was prepared by Suzanne E. Deliscar, Lawyer-Linguist, Downtown Notary Guelph and Brampton. This blog post has also been cross-posted on the Intersecting Law and Languages Blog which can be found at

Airport Mobile Notary Services: Now at Ottawa and Pearson International

It can happen to anyone. You're at the airport and realize that you need a consent to travel letter, power of attorney, emergency passport application, or another kind of notarized document.

Fortunately, crisis can be averted. Downtown Notary is pleased to offer mobile notary services to the Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier and Pearson International Airports on Saturdays and Sundays. Our mobile services are there to help as quickly as possible. The price is $200 plus the cost of notarization or commissioning.

If you're at the Ottawa Airport, call us at (613)707-2944.

For Pearson International in Toronto, call us at (647)799-3531.

Make sure you have time to catch your flight. Contact Downtown Notary today. 

The Notary’s Role in Ontario Real Estate Transactions: What we can and can’t do

Ready to buy or sell property in Ontario? Property laws vary by province, and so does the extent of what role the notary is able to fulfil in transactions. 

At Downtown Notary we often get requests to prepare real estate transaction legal paperwork for buyers and sellers in British Columbia, Florida and many other places. It can be confusing to know what notaries can do, when in BC or Quebec, for example, a notary has the authority to prepare the legal documentation. The rules for Ontario notaries are different and we want to help you by providing information on what we can and cannot do. 

Here is what Ontario notaries can do:

  • Witness the signing of the real estate transaction paperwork, prepared by a lawyer 
  • Send the notarized documentation back to the lawyer in the other province/state

What Ontario notaries can’t do:

  • Prepare the legal documents, such as an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, Statement of Adjustment, 
  • Conduct and review the title search
  • Request other relevant searches, such as work orders, zoning, tax arrears, etc.
  • Receive, review and respond to requisitions

To complete the above, buyers and sellers will need to retain the services of a real estate lawyer licensed to practice in the province of Ontario. 

At Downtown Notary we can witness the signing of your prepared documentation. We can also send it back to the real estate lawyer you have engaged outside of Ontario. To have your documents notarized quickly and cost effectively, call or book your appointment online today. 

The Student's Guide to OSAP Applications

Sad to say, but summer is winding down. For the post-secondary students amongst us, it's time to think about course selection, dorm room decor, and something decidedly less fun: OSAP.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program provides student loans and grants to post-secondary students, and for many an OSAP loan is essential for getting through the academic year. But for a student to get their loan, they have to go through the application process, which is about as fun as being in a forest without a compass. If you're like I was and go to a school that has a financial services department that is as organized as a five year old, then it is even less fun: like being in a forest riddled with poison ivy without a compass and WINTER IS COMING.

So how can you make the OSAP application process go as smoothly and stress-free as possible? Here are some tips:

  1. Read the application guide CAREFULLY AND CLOSELY to understand what supporting documents your application requires.  Unsure what you need to submit? Contact your university or college's financial services department. 
  2. If you have applied to OSAP before, make sure you have copies of the supporting documentation you provided with your previous applications.  I was asked to provide the same darn letter three years in a row and being able to print it and send it off saved me time and stress.
  3. PAY ATTENTION TO DEADLINES.  OSAP is not forgiving if you miss the application deadline, so make sure you know when everything needs to be submitted and follow through. Again, if you aren't sure about what deadlines apply to you, contact your university or college's financial services department.

In certain circumstances, you will be asked to submit an affidavit with your OSAP application as proof of your marital or parental status. An affidavit is a document that is sworn (i.e., that the contents of the affidavit are true) and signed before a notary public, like Downtown Notary. 

OSAP applications require affidavits if you are any of the following:

  • In a common-law relationship: You will need to provide an affidavit that is sworn and signed by you and your spouse confirming that you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least three years or are living together in a conjugal relationship and raising any children of whom you are both the natural or adoptive parents.
  • Separated: If you are separated but do not have a separation agreement, you will need to provide an affidavit detailing the date of separation. If you also have children, the affidavit must include the names and birth dates of your child(ren), the custody arrangements for your child(ren) and confirm that your child(ren) will be living with you full-time during the academic year.
  • Widowed: You will need to provide an affidavit confirming that you have children who will be living with you full-time during the academic year and includes the name and date of birth of your child(ren).
  • Single Parent/Guardian: If you have never been married but are a single parent or guardian of your child(ren), you will need to provide an affidavit confirming that you have children who will be living with you full-time during the academic year and includes the name and date of birth of your child(ren).

Affidavits sound more complicated than they really are, but unfortunately, OSAP does not provide any sample or blank affidavits that you can fill in yourself.

If you require assistance with an affidavit for an OSAP application, Downtown Notary can help. We can draft and notarize your OSAP affidavit for $45 (this includes a 25% student discount). Save time, money and hassle with our one-stop shop for OSAP affidavits - contact us today!

Why Does Downtown Notary Not Have an Office?

You may have noticed that some of Downtown Notary's locations - including Ottawa and all of our Toronto locations - are actually coffee shops, not offices. So why is that?

There's a few reasons why we do not have an office.  Firstly, offices are very expensive. One of the reasons legal services are so expensive is to pay for those expensive offices. Without an office, we're able to pass on the savings to my clients and provide notary public and commissioner for taking oaths services at affordable and accessible rates.  Secondly, not having an office allows us to be flexible: we're able to meet clients at times that fit their schedule, or provide them with house calls across downtown Toronto. Non-traditional legal practices in which lawyers or notaries work from their homes, shared offices or alternative offices, such as coworking spaces, are becoming increasingly common as we strive to provide high quality services to our clients at affordable prices. Thirdly, Starbucks makes much better coffee than we do.

This helpful infographic explains how we provide notary services at our mobile locations:


It's also important to note that even though we don't always operate out of office locations, we are still fully qualified notaries for the Province of Ontario. 

Have any more questions? Contact us - we're happy to help.

Why You Need a Power of Attorney - Yes, You!

Usually, we here at Downtown Notary attempt to be somewhat humorous in our blog posts, because let’s be honest, notary stuff is typically not the most interesting.  In this blog post, we are going to take a more serious turn to discuss something that is very important to us: powers of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else - your “attorney” - the power to act on your behalf.  In Ontario, there are three kinds of powers of attorney - a power of attorney for personal care, a continuing power of attorney for property and a non-continuing power of attorney for property. In this blog post, we will only be discussing powers of attorney for personal care and continuing powers of attorney for property. 

A power of attorney for personal care lets your attorney make personal care decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapable of making them for yourself.  Your attorney becomes your substitute decision-maker for making personal care and medical decisions, such as whether you will receive or decline certain medical treatments. A power of attorney for personal care ensures that a person you trust is making important decisions about your care, and will also hep to make sure that your personal care wishes are respected.

A continuing power of attorney for property lets your attorney manage your financial affairs and allows the person you name to act for you even if you become mentally incapable. This includes managing your bank accounts, making bill and rent payments and making purchases on your behalf. A continuing power of attorney for property means that a person you trust will be able to oversee your finances when you are unable to.

For many of us, ourselves included, talking about, let alone planning for, some of the more difficult stuff in life - what happens to us when we get sick or otherwise become unable to care for ourselves - is very hard. Maybe we feel that we have lots of time to figure that out, or perhaps there is a bit of denial that we will ever need to deal with a situation like that.  Maybe it’s just not something we want to think about.

Unfortunately, not taking the time to plan for the what-ifs when we are most capable of planning for them often means that by the time our situations change and we need someone else to take care of our personal care and finances, making powers of attorney may be very difficult or no longer possible. The result is that we or our friends and family are left scrambling to figure out how to pay our bills or make sure our medical care wishes are respected. This makes difficult situations even harder for everyone.

We here at Downtown Notary want to encourage you, maybe even challenge you a little bit, to start talking and planning for the what-ifs now. A great place to start is making powers of attorney. Creating powers of attorney is a very easy and simple way to start planning for the more difficult what-ifs in life, and will give you piece of mind knowing that someone you trust will be able to take care of your personal care and finances when you are not able to.

In Ontario, the Ministry of the Attorney General has created a free, very simple, easy to use power of attorney kit that contains templates for both a power of attorney for personal care and a continuing power of attorney for property.  All you need to do is properly completed and sign the documents and have them witnessed by two people who are not your family members and they will be legally binding.

We recommend that you have your powers of attorney witnessed and notarized by a notary public. Firstly, notarizing your powers of attorney assures others that the signature on the documents is genuine and the documents are legitimate. Secondly, many financial institutions will not accept powers of attorney for property unless they are notarized. We suggest that you contact your bank or financial institution for more information on their specific requirements for validating continuing powers of attorney for property.

This is a very high level overview of powers of attorney. For more detailed information, we suggest you read the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee’s “Powers of Attorney and Living Wills: Some Questions and Answers”.  Please also be aware that this blog post does not in any way constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for speaking to a lawyer. You may wish to speak to a lawyer regarding any specific questions you may have about powers of attorney.

If you want to have powers of attorney notarized, we can help! Contact us or book your appointment online.

Does the Notary Have to Witness Me Sign? And Other Jurisdictional Issues

In most jurisdictions, including Ontario, the law requires a notary public to witness the signing of a document in person before he or she can notarize the document. Usually, this is pretty easy. 

But what if you are outside your home town, province or country and you need to get a document notarized for use back home? For example, you’re visiting Vancouver but need to sign closing papers for a house you bought back home in Toronto. 

Or what if you need something notarized for use in another town, province or country? For example, you are selling property you own in Florida but you live and work in Toronto and can’t get down to Florida in time to sign the selling documents. 

Luckily, the solution is still pretty easy: simply visit a notary wherever you are and have them notarize the documents for you and send the documents to where they need to go.  This is also known as “notarizing a document for use in another jurisdiction.” If you are in another country, you may need to have the notary’s signature authenticated for use outside of that country - check with the notary and your lawyer (if applicable) to see if this is required and what the process is.

Downtown Notary has helped many clients with signing documents for use in many other jurisdictions, including mortgage documents, powers of attorney, affidavits, etc. We can liaise with your lawyer, mortgage broker or other professional to help you quickly and easily complete your documents. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.

Downtown Notary's 2nd Anniversary

They say time flies when you're having fun, and it's hard to believe that two years have gone by since the start of Downtown Notary. What started as a "some day" idea in the mind of an intrepid law student became a small scale notary service with one location which turned into a collective of notaries operating in six locations in Toronto and in three other cities (soon to be four!).  We have helped over 2000 people with their notary and commissioning needs - so what have we learned along the way?

First, anyone who says being a notary is boring is WRONG. Yes, it's a lot of paperwork. Well, it's all paper work, and some of us like paperwork. But beside that, there are hundreds of different kinds of documents that need notarizations - every week there is something new that we haven't seen before. It's also helpful that our clients are great - every week we get to help people by providing easy and affordable notarizations that save them time and hassle.

Second, being a great notary is not just about signing and stamping documents, although that's obviously a large part of it! Being a great notary means providing great customer service to every client. That means being flexible, helpful and friendly. Let's be honest: getting a document notarized isn't high on everyone's list of fun things to do.  Despite this, we aim to make your experience with our notaries a good one.  Every time one of our clients says to us, "That was so easy!", we know we are meeting our high standards for our customer service.

We want to thank all of our amazing clients over the past two years for supporting Downtown Notary. It's been an amazing journey, and we can't wait to see where we go next.

Hello, Guelph!

Our customers love how easy and convenient Downtown Notary's services are.  We pride ourselves on striving to work around our clients' needs, not the other way around.

We are excited to bring our notary services to Guelph. This location is conveniently located in downtown Guelph. Appointments will be available on Wednesdays from 10 am to 4:30 pm. We are looking forward to being a part of this community!

What (or Who) is a Guarantor for a Passport?

We often get asked whether our notaries can be guarantors for passport applications. Yes, we can - but you probably don't need one!

A guarantor is someone who guarantees something.  To answer our own question, a guarantor for a passport application is someone who confirms the identity of the person who is applying for a passport.

Until just a few years ago, a guarantor had to be someone who was in one of the professions or occupations accepted by Passport Canada, like a doctor or lawyer.  Passport Canada would be able to verify the identity of the guarantor through membership directories of those professional or occupational groups.  

Passport Canada now allows persons who are 18 years older and hold valid Canadian passports to be guarantors.  A guarantor has to have known the applicant for two years and be accessible to the passport program to answer verification questions.  

Easy, right? Well, mostly.

Sometimes, it's impossible to find a a person who meets the requirements to be a guarantor for a passport application. In these cases, it's still possible to get a passport - but you'll need to complete a form PPTC 132 "Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor".  The form is not available online (we learned this the hard way), but can be picked up from any passport office.  The "Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor" form must be sworn to or declared before, and signed by, a notary public or commissioner for taking oaths.

For more information on how to get a Canadian passport, visit the Government of Canada's webpage on passports.  Want to know more about our notary services? Email us at  

What's a Certified True Copy?

This is a question that we get asked a lot. Like many legal-ish terms, it seems pretty straightforward but is just unclear enough that it’s hard to be sure.

A certified true copy of a document is a copy that has been verified by a notary as an exact copy of the original document. Common types of certified true copies are copies of identification, like birth certificates, passports and driver’s licences, and are frequently required for applications for immigration and professional certification.

It works like this: the notary closely compares the original document and the copy. Once the notary is satisfied that the copy is real, they write (or stamp) on the document “Certified True Copy of Original Document”, sign it, date it and stamp it with their notary seal. Voila, a certified true copy.

Need a certified true copy? Let Downtown Notary help!