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Notary Services Glossary beginning with A

Brosgall Legal's glossary covers useful Apostille and Notary Public terms.
Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.
Academic Certificates and Diplomas

Documents that we often notarize, or certify as true copies. We also authenticate and legalize such documents for foreign use.


The procedure by which a country becomes a party to an agreement or treaty already in force between other country.


International agreements originally for lesser subjects than covered by treaties, but currently treaties by a different name.


Accreditation denotes the appointment of a person to serve as diplomat of the sending state to the receiving state(s). A diplomat may be concurrently accredited to more than one country when the diplomatic mission covers two or more countries.


A notarial act whereby the signer of a document admits to a lawyer or notary public, that he or she signed the document; that he understands the contents of the document; and that he or she is aware of the consequences of executing the document by signing it. The signer also indicates to the notary that he or she signed the document of his or her own free will and was not coerced into signing a document. By signing the document the signer agrees to the terms and conditions of the document. An acknowledgment is not the same as an attestation or notarization, which are declarations by a notary that a document was signed in their presence according to the formatlities required by law.

Acknowledgment Certificate

A written statement usually found on a document just below the signer's signature block that records and certifies the details of the acknowledgment notarial act that just took place. The certificate must contain a description of the site of the notarial act, the name(s) of the person(s) acknowledging their signing of the document, an indication that an acknowledgment notarial act was performed; and a statement that the signer personally appeared before the notary, understood the contents of the document and signed the document willingly (see Free Act and Deed). The notary also certifies the date that the acknowledgment was taken, signs the acknowledgment notarial certificate and places his or her notary seal on the certificate. By signing and sealing the acknowledgment certificate the notary certifies that the acknowledgment notarial act described indeed took place. See also Notarial Certificate.


An attachment or appendix to a written document.


To discharge the duties of an office; to give (as in the giving of an oath).

Administration of Oaths

An oath is a solemn promise, either to do something, or that something is true. An "oath" includes an affirmation, a statutory declaration, or a solemn declaration made under the B.C. Evidence Act or the Canada Evidence Act.


A person in BC who is 19 or older.

A term used in various Personal Planning documents such as Representation Agreements.

In Canada, each province and territory decides the age of majority. Anyone under the age of majority is considered to be a "minor child."

The age of majority varies from one province to another:

  • Age of majority is 18 in: Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan
  • Age of majority is 19 in: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon
Advance Care Plan

The set of documents that ensure your interests are taken care of in the event you become incapable. These include:

  • Powers of Attorney
  • Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM)
  • Representation Agreements
  • Advance Health Care Directives
  • Wills 
Advance Directive

An Advanced Directive is a document that lets you give directions to health care providers and family about what health care you want, or do not want, at the end of your life. An Advance Directive is a vital component of estate planning, and comes into play if you are unable to communicate or make end of life decisions for yourself. An Advance Directive lets people choose different levels of treatment according to their values and beliefs. It is a message from you to your doctor, and it is useful for loved ones who would otherwise face the prospect of making decisions on your behalf. Essentially, an Advance Directive lets you lay out your wishes, and provide or withhold consent for certain procedures.


The person making an affidavit.


A sworn statement of fact, opinion, belief or knowledge. An affidavit is a document containing a statement that the deponent swears or affirms to be true, to the best of his or her knowledge. The deponent first takes the oath or affirmation, then signs the affidavit, and finally the commissioner signs and stamps the affidavit to confirm that the oath or affirmation was administered properly. Affidavits may be used as evidence in court, and under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is an offence to make a false statement. Typically, the commissioner of oaths who administers the oath or affirmation is a notary public or lawyer. For further detail, please see the article we wrote on Statutory Declarations and Affidavits.

Affidavit of Records

In the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, within 90 days after a statement of defence has been filed, the parties must file and serve affidavits of records listing the records in their possession, custody or power that are relevant and material to the issues in the action. An affidavit of records lists the records that a party does, and does not, object to produce to the other parties. Brosgall Legal ~ Notary Services will often swear these sorts of affidavits for litigants who are based in Vancouver, and send them to Alberta for filing. An affidavit of records is akin to a sworn version of a BC List of Documents.

Affidavit of Service

An Affidavit of Service - also known as a Proof of Service - is an important document provided by professional process servers (or other individuals) after they have successfully served a document on someone. This type of affidavit is a notarized document, signed by the process server, giving the time, date, manner of service, and identity of the person served.  Usually, the pleadings or other documentation that was successfully served will be attached to the Affidavit of Service and marked as an exhibit.

If a party in the case claims to not have been notified of pending legal action, the Affidavit of Service will be filed and used as evidence to prove otherwise.  Even if the process server isn't able to serve the person, the affidavit can be used to prove attempted service and due diligence. An Affidavit of Attempted Service shows that the process server made a number of attempts to serve someone, and can detail the reasons why service of process was not possible. This Affidavit helps to prove that every effort was made to notify another party of a pending legal proceeding.  

This is a sample B.C. Provincial Court (Small Claims) Affidavit of Service, and this is a sample B.C. Supreme Court (Civil) Affidavit of Service

Affidavit of Witness to Signature

An affidavit whereby the deponent swears under oath (or affirms) that he or she witnessed the signing of a document (often a Release). The deponent swears tha they were present and saw the person signing the document.

This can be done by personal knowledge of the signer (the deponent personally knows the signer), or on the basis of identification (taking photo ID).


A solemn declaration given in place of a sworn statement by a person who conscientiously objects to taking an oath. A solemn statement of truth made under penalty of perjury, equivalent by law to an oath, but without religious significance or reference to a Supreme Being.

See 'Yea and Nay' for the history of affirmations.


To secure an object to another. To attach, or add to. In the notary context, affix is typically used when speaking of affixing one's stamp or seal to an instrument or document. To attach or impress the notary seal to a document.


A slip of paper annexed to a negotiable instrument, for the purpose of adding additional endorsements (signatures) when there is insufficient space on the bill itself. An endorsement written on the allonge is deemed to be written on the bill itself. From French allonger, (to draw out).


An ambassador is a diplomat who has been appointed by the sending state to represent its interests in the receiving state. The ambassador is the top official of an embassy.


An archaic version of the word Apostille, meaning 'marginal note'.

Origin: MF apostille, fr. apostiller to annotate, fr. a- (fr. L ad-) +postiller to annotate


Please see Apostille Certificate or Authentication and Legalization. For a more detailed explanation about apostilles, and the authentication and legalization process, please read the article we wrote on this subject.

Apostille Certificate

Apostille certificates are used in many countries to legalize documents for use in other countries. Apostilles is essentially an international notarial seal - a foreign method of legalizing documents. In Canada, however, apostille certificates are not allowed, as Canada was not a signatory to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. As a result, notaries use the Authentication and Legalization method. There are three steps to the authentication and legalization process: Notarization, Authentication, and Legalization. Please see Authentication and Legalization below.

If you are interested in learning more about the non-Canadian Apostille process and Apostille certification, including viewing FAQ's, a good reference is the e-brochure The ABC's of Apostilles at the Apostille Section of the Hague Conference on Private International Law website. The word apostille comes from the French postille - meaning marginal note, which is from the Medieval Latin post illa verba, meaning after these words. During the negotiations for the 1961 Hague Convention, the term "Apostille" was preferred because of its novelty. According to a reporter at the time: "Following a discussion on terminology [in the French language], the word Apostille may have been preferred because of its appealing novelty (it was adopted by 7 votes to 3, the other suggestion having been attestation)." [From the Permanent Bureau.]

For a more detailed explanation about apostilles, and the authentication and legalization process, please read the article we wrote on this subject. An apositille certificate is also known as a 'notary flag' in certain jurisdictions.

Apostolic Nunciature

An Apostolic Nunciature is a permanent diplomatic mission of the Holy See (the Vatican in Rome). Only diplomatic missions of the Holy See are named Apostolic Nunciature, and the mission is headed by an Apostolic Nuncio.

Apostolic Nuncio

An Apostolic Nuncio, also known as a Papal Nuncio, is a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to a receiving state having ambassadorial rank. In Catholic states, representatives of the Holy See automatically becomes Deans of the Diplomatic Corps - a ceremonial position usually reserved for the longest serving ambassador to a state.


A document that is added to a main document. Often used in correspondence or notarial certificates.

Also known as an addendum or attachment.


The act of designating for an office or position.


A person who is knowledgeable in a particular field and is called upon for advice, typically by a judge or committee of inquiry. An 'assessor' is also an assistant judge in some countries who assesses or witnesses marriage certificates, etc... 


A document that is added to a main document. Often used in correspondence or notarial certificates.

Also known as an addendum or appendix.


Civilian attaches are either junior officers in an embassy or, if more senior, officers who have a professional specialization.  An attache is a person assigned to the diplomatic staff of a diplomatic mission. Normally, the attache has specific responsibilities e.g. military air and naval attache, agricultural attache, etc.


To bear witness to, to sign a document as a witness, or to affirm as correct.


The act of executing a document and bearing witness to its authenticity, by signing one's name to it to affirm that it is genuine. An attestation is a declaration by a witness that an instrument has been executed in his or her presence according to the formalities required by law. It is not the same as an acknowledgment, which is a statement by the maker of a document that verifies its authenticity.

An attestation clause is frequently found in legal documents that must be witnessed if they are to be valid, for example, a will. It states that the instrument has been completed in the manner required by law in the presence of the witness who places his or her signature in the designated space.

Attestation Clause

The statement a witness signs who is attesting the signature of a document as a witness.

Attested Copy

This term is used by American notaries. An attested copy is a copy of an original document that was made by the notary, or that the notary witnessed someone else make. Notaries in some American states are allowed to make an attested copy of an original document if it is not a vital record or recordable document. These US states differentiate between an attested copy which may be made by a notary, and a certified copy which may be made only by the public official who has custody of the original record. In Canada, notaries may issue certified copies of vital records and recordable documents. Please see Certified Copy.

Attesting Witness

The witness to the execution of an instrument who has written his or her name as proof of seeing such execution. One who subscribes his or her name to a writing in order to be able at a future time to prove its due execution; a subscribing witness. 

Attorney-in-fact (POA)

The person authorized by a power of attorney to act on behalf of another person (known as the Principal).


Please see Authentication and Legalization.

Authentication and Legalization

Documents that need to be notarized in Canada for use abroad must go through a process known as "authentication and legalization". Once this is done, the notarized document becomes legal and valid in the foreign jurisdiction. Essentially, the process confirms the registration of the lawyer or notary in their respective governing body, and verifies their signature and seal as "authentic". This process is known as Apostille certification in other countries, but in Canada it is called Authentication and Legalization.

After a document is notarized at Brosgall Legal - Notary Services, authentication can be completed in several ways:  

  1. The Authentication and Service of Documents Section (JLAC) of the Department of International Trade and Foreign Affairs (Ottawa)  
  2. The Law Society of B.C. - Authentication Section (Vancouver)
  3. The B.C. Ministry of Justice - Order in Council Administration Office (Victoria)

You can determine which method a country requires by asking their Vancouver Consular Office. To ensure every authentication goes smoothly, Vancouver notary Adam E. Brosgall has registered his signature and seal at all three authentication offices.  

For a more detailed explanation about apostilles, and the authentication and legalization process, please read the article we wrote on this subject. An authentication certificate is also known as a 'notary flag' in certain jurisdictions. Legalization is also known as 'superlegalization' in some jurisdictions.


The power to make decisions. The Notary must establish that the person appearing before him/her has the authority to act.


The power to make decisions. The Notary must establish that the person appearing before him/her has the authority to act.