Who is a Notary Public, and Why Might You Need One as a Student

by Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery
0 comment
notary public for students

Many issues these days that arise from bridging agreements, faking identities, and forging signatures on documents by parties involved occur primarily because there was no impartial third party to authenticate their agreement on paper. This is where a notary public comes in.

 They verify and clarify documents and authenticate the signatures of the parties involved. In this article, we’ll cover who a notary public is, what they do, and why you’ll possibly need one as a student. With this information, securing the identities and authenticity of documents becomes less challenging and more straightforward. 

What does a Notary Public Do?

A notary public is an individual who is authorised to perform some legal duties, especially when it has to do with signing very important documents. Their activities are regulated by the government of the country where they are located. Although their duties may vary by jurisdiction, they often have similar roles. 

They are often appointed by government authorities to act as impartial witnesses to the signing of documents and ensure the authenticity of the signatures on them. 

The duties expected of a notary public are clear and objective as long as relevance is attached to any transactional document. Some of their duties include:

  1. Identity verification

Before a transactional document is signed, it’s important that the identities of the parties involved are duly verified. This means the notary will demand valid means of identification and a background check on the parties involved. Once there is any suspicion about the true identity of any of the parties, that document will not be signed. They ensure that people are who they say they are!

  1. Witnessing signatures

A notary public serves as an impartial witness to signing documents that both parties consider important. They attest to the authenticity of the signatures of the parties involved. This means there is no room to forge a signature that is inconsistent with the ones you have on other documents. Also, they will be a witness to defending what they saw and supervised during the signing process when there is a legal disagreement.

  1. Certifying copy of documents

It’s a challenge when there is a legal issue, and one of the parties involved brings a document only to discover that the documents are fake. Notaries are, therefore, authorised to certify copies of documents, which further validates their authenticity. Since they are witnesses to the signing of a document, they can attest to the document that is authentic and the one that’s not.

Follow us on Twitter for more updates on thriving as a Nigerian student and building a successful career.

  1. Administering oaths or affirmations

This could be with respect to a written statement that that individual is to be held accountable for. For instance, if a student wants to swear an oath or affirmation of non-allegance to a secret cult, a notary is authorised to facilitate it. They make sure the individual is aware of the purpose of the statement that he or she is about to affirm. 

Also, they offer the individual the choice of either taking an oath (i.e., swearing in a religious sense) or affirmation (i.e., a commitment to a higher power with a specific reference). After this, the individual is presented with the statement and then makes a recitation of the state, affirming what is written there. When the individual is done, the intermediary then affirms the document, attesting that an individual with full consciousness is committed to the document and will face any consequences for bridging it.

  1. Maintaining records

They ensure that committed records in their care are kept and maintained in the same condition for ease of retrieval when the need arises. In Nigerian higher institutions, notaries can be present in different offices like school exams and records, student affairs, etc. They prioritise the safety and maintenance of every student document.

  1. Preventing fraud

One of the excuses for fraud, especially at the university, is the lack of original documents being presented when needed. This often occurs when documents are signed without the presence of an authorised witness. What this means is that any document can be made to replace the one that was signed initially. This can breed signature forgery and all sorts of identity theft or menance that could have been avoided if an authorised personality was involved, and in this case, a notary public.

Why You May Need a Notary Public as a Student

The validation of documents is an important aspect of our society. This implies that when documents are deemed important, a level of seriousness should be committed to its authentication. Even as a student, a trusted third party can play a huge role for you. Here are scenarios and document examples where you may need one:

  1. Lease agreement

A lease agreement is an official document obtained when you want to rent an accommodation. Some landlords may require that you get a third trustworthy party, in this case, a notary public, who will authenticate the lease for you. 

This is to make the agreement weighty in case any party decides to bridge the trust there. Although many students just rent accommodation spaces off-campus casually, it’ll be of great benefit to you if you notarise those documents. It puts you and the other party in safe hands since there was a witness to the transaction.

  1. Study abroad

Many students in Nigeria and across the globe seek to extend their studies beyond the shores of their country. Before this is achieved, there are documents that need to be made available. Such documents as international passports, academic transcripts, program enrollment forms, etc., may need notarisation before they’re accepted by the international institution of your choice.

Read also: How to relocate to Germany for study purposes

  1. Job application or internship

When applying for a job or an internship position, some employers may require that some documents that will be presented to you be notarised. Some such documents may include authorisation for a background check, a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement of the company information, employment contracts, a remote work agreement, etc. 

Read also: Benefits of internships and how to get them as a student

By notarising the document, you grant access to all information an employer may require from you. Usually, notarising documents for employment gives both the employer and employee confidence that their agreement has some form of legal backing and authenticity.

  1. Financial documents

On issues around finances, having a notary public will save a lot of stress, especially for students. There are some financial engagements, such as student loans and financial aid, that student can’t avoid, and on most occasions, the documents for these engagements require notarisation for authentication. In simple terms, for any financial process to have a strong legal hold, that document must be notarised. This will prevent future disputes between any or both parties.

Read also: Is student loans a blessing or a trap for Nigerian students?

  1. Transcripts request

Transcripts are official academic records containing the student’s academic performance throughout the years of study, the courses taken, grades, and the degree conferred at the end of study. When transcripts are requested by students, some institutions may require notarised consent from the student before the records are released. This helps both the institution and the student and mitigates the possibility of any fraud.

Notary Public vs. Lawyer

Although both professions deal with ensuring procedures are legal, they sure have distinct functions. A notary, as earlier stated, is an individual who has been authorized by the government to verify and certify documents by confirming the authenticity of the signatures and identities of the parties involved. On the other hand, a lawyer is a legal practitioner who provides legal advice, drafts legal documents, and represents clients in legal matters.

Where can you find a notary public?

Depending on your location (e.g., Lagos or Ogun state), a simple Google search could help. But most notaries don’t have an online presence. So, if Google doesn’t help, visit any court around you and ask for a notary. If they don’t have one on-site, they’ll know where you can find a private practitioner. Keep in mind that their signature/services are not for free.


Authentication of documents by an intermediary third party, like a notary public, will mitigate concurrent issues that people face in coming to an agreement. They verify and certify identities and signatures and validate the authenticity of a document. Students and the general public can find this service of great value in ensuring that procedures and agreements are followed and documents are notarised for the best outcome.

If you have a question, leave it in the comments or join our Whatsapp community and start a conversation.

Edited by Halimat Chisom.

About Author

Avatar of Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery
Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery
I am an enthusiastic content and creative writer. I harness opportunities to make fact-based, fictional and SEO-enhanced creative content that are captivating, interesting and worthwhile.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

× Say hi
Update Required Flash plugin