Notaries demystified

All you ever wanted to know about notaries.
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By Blanka Čechová
for Expats.cz

After having encountered quite a few lost expat souls, wondering around the hallways of notary offices from one detailed Czech sign to another in the hopeless intention of getting the front page of their passport notarized (which is, btw, not possible), I assumed, that from the perspective of foreigners, the Czech notaries might appear like a bit of mysterious and sometimes a pretty inaccessible feature. To make sure, I did a test: I tried to imagine for 20 minutes that I am a foreigner who doesn´t speak much Czech and who seeks a notary…

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In fact, I spent much more than 20 minutes hooked to the Internet trying to find any information about Czech notaries in English. Result: zero. It is, then, time to make some contribution here.

What can the notary do for you

The Czech notaries are generally active in three areas: civil law, business law and civil procedure. – Within civil procedure, notaries are in charge of inheritance procedures (which can concern a foreigner in case he becomes heir by the title of law or in somebody´s last will). Another feature of the notarial agenda is drawing up testaments (see below what to do when you want to do so), which falls into the area of civil law, though, as well as drafting civil law contracts, namely those regarding real-estate property, providing notarial custody (of money/securities/documents) and taking care of all sorts of family law acts (like prenuptial agreements).

In the area of business law, there is a number of legal actions, that are legally required to be done in the form of notarial record (e.g. the changing of the articles of association of an Ltd.); besides that, the notary provides a large scale of other features within business and company law (foundation of companies, transfers of shares, transformations of companies, mergers, etc.). A notary can also authenticate signatures, documents and declarations. Last but not least – in civil procedure, the notary can represent a client in front of the court. Added up: in the area of private law (civil, family, business law), the notary can provide a full-service.

The Skywalkers of law

The position of a notary within the system of Czech law is unique: even though the Commercial Code considers notaries to be entrepreneurs, at the same time, notaries possess certain public authority, respectively the power delegated on to him by the state in specific areas. This private-public nature of the notarial job makes it not only an exclusive profession, but brings additional rules and responsibilities, too (e.g. the notaries are not allowed to advertise their services, so the individual offices can´t have their own websites, they must not have larger or more enhanced door-signs then prescribed, so it is often hard to find a notary – on the Internet or even simply at his street).

The notarial deeds (e.g. contracts, powers of attorney, articles of association, etc., written up in a specific and rigorous form by the notary) are considered to include presumption of justice, which practically means that in case of a dispute, the court will not question the statements declared in the notarial record. When drafting the notarial deeds and/or executing other tasks of his professional activity, the notary – unlike attorney – stands on neither side of the deal. He is not supposed to defend the rights of one party – he must prevent disputes and thus, defend the rights of all parties of the contract. Referring to your notary as “my notary“ doesn´t have the same meaning as saying “my lawyer“ or “my attorney“ – the attorney is allowed to commit a lot, including passionate and sophisticated lying, in favor of his client, while the notary has to always stand aside of any particular interests.

Now – let´s talk in a little bit of detail about the services that the notaries are asked for from the side of foreigners most frequently:

Authentication

This is a typical agenda of a notary, which divides into two major activities: the legalization of signatures and the certification of documents.

General hints:

– The notary office is not like a classical law firm that can assist you 24/7 – when doing authentications; the notary is performing his public authority and is thus supposed to have official hours. Don´t be angry, when they don´t let you even in only 10 minutes after these hours – when you go to the post office, the guys also don´t re-open after their official opening time. They have other things in their program besides doing authentications.

– A similar thing: don´t expect to run into an office with 60 documents of which you need authentic copies, 10 minutes before the notary closes, or, don´t be upset if your 15 signatures are not legalized within 10 minutes of waiting outside in the corridor. It does take time to do even just stamping, filling out, checking and binding properly. Even if all this authenticating looks like a mechanical job of copying and stamping, it can amount to a huge responsibility if something goes wrong. So no wonder, that the notary or his employees better double check each ID and every single page of a document before putting the stamp on it.

– For large authentications (not meaning lots of pages, but lots of signatures or lots of separate documents to be authenticated, or – if you haven´t made your copies – also lots of copying to be done), it´s better to make an appointment in advance, or leave the documents at the office and pick them up later, so that you don´t need to wait.

– Authentications are also provided at the Municipal Authorities (Obecní úřad, Městský úřad, Úřad Městské části). However they will not authenticate documents with foreign language text or seals that can be pasted on (as opposed to being printed on). It is a good idea to check before you stand in line

– It is usually not the notary who does authentications in the office; it is the trainees or other employees – that is why there is also another name and signature beside the authentications clause than the one of the notary.

– One of the Czech signs on the notary´s door, that you might have been trying to decode, says „Our clients are kindly requested to inform us, if the document/signature to be authenticated is intended for use abroad.“ This is important: only the notary or his substitute are allowed to sign authentications (both legalizations and authentic copies) on documents that you will be using abroad, so you´d better say it, so you don´t need to come again after your document was sent back to you from abroad.

– In most notarial offices, they will also copy your originals of which you want the copies, BUT – if you have some difficult material (folded A3 formats, docs with lots of staples/bindings, which are difficult to copy and have to be copied manually page by page), better let this be copied for you in a copy-shop. In fact, the notary can´t charge anything for the authentications´ copying, so no wonder he can get upset when queues of people ask him to copy large and difficult originals on a parchment. The standard copying is, in fact, sort of a bonus you get when you don´t have your own copies.

– if you have to make an official translation of a Czech document that requires authentication, have the signatures/copies legalized in the Czech version of the document and then let the whole thing be translated – the text of the stamps is Czech, so if they are placed in the document that has already been translated, there will most likely be an additional translation necessary, exclusively the one of the stamps.

– Czech Notaries will not sign the back of your passport photo

– The notary can´t be held liable for the contents of the documents (neither those on which he legalizes your signature, nor the originals out of which he makes authentic copies).

Legalization of signatures

– This is to be written on the walls and repeated like a mantra: for legalization of YOUR signature it is YOU who has to come – otherwise this whole legalization entertainment would lack any sense: it serves to confirm, that it was you who signed the document, which was proved to the notary by your valid piece of identification and confirmed by you signing the legalization book at the same time. If you objectively can´t make it to a notary office (e.g. you are in the hospital), ask the notary to come to you; it varies, though – some offices have more trainees that can make it to you within three days, others are busy and will have the time only within three weeks,

– your identity card has to be issued by a state authority and has to contain your photograph at the same time (insurance cards, credit cards, student identities, etc., are, thus, not accepted),

– You don´t need to worry if you signed the document already before coming to the notary office – both is possible: you either sign the paper in front of the notary, or – if you signed it before – you declare that the signature on the paper is yours,

– If for some reason you don´t have any ID (lost, stolen, forgotten) and still you need your signature be legalized, this can be done at the presence of two witnesses (that both DO have their IDs, though!), who confirm your identity in front of the notary/trainee.

– If you are signing a fill-in form style of document, it is necessary to fill out all fields or neatly cross them out, so don´t be surprised when the notary asks you to fill a paper out completely. This is also to protect you: if the document with your legalized signature gets lost or stolen afterwards, anybody can fill in the blanks that are left empty and it would still be you who signed the document – and even in front of a notary.

– The document you are signing has to be able to have legal consequences, which generally means that it represents some legal action (typically a declaration, a power of attorney, a contract, etc.), so being upset at the notary when he refuses to legalize your signature under an essay entitled “What I really think about George W. Bush” is not helpful; the law simply sets out certain requirements.

– When legalizing your signature, the notary is not responsible for you understanding the document you are signing; it is him, though, who has to understand the contents (to describe the document in the legalization´s book), plus, he confirms that you were you (from seeing your ID) and that you signed the paper (from seeing you signing it).

– As the notary has to understand the contents of the document on which he legalizes your signature (unlike in the case of making authentic copies), he can ask you to provide an official translation, if he doesn´t know e.g. Spanish. Official translation means the one made by a court interpreter, so providing translations without the necessary stamp, will probably be refused no matter how brilliant they may be.

Certification of documents

– For certifications of documents, respectively for making the authentic copies, you don´t need to submit an ID – copies are not being registered anywhere, so it is irrelevant who brings them into the office,

– the Czech Notarial Act prohibits making authentic copies of technical drawings/identity cards/value bills and other documents, the originality of which can´t be duplicated by authentic copy,

– An authentic copy can be created only from an original, which means that a plain piece of paper with typed text without any stamp and/or signature can have a whatever importance and original value for you, but it is not considered an original document by the Czech law. So note that an original always has to contain something that really establishes this originality (signature, stamp). The authentic copy has the same legal validity as the original, so the notary is not allowed to create duplicates of papers, that were not originals, and suddenly they would become ones – being stamped by the seal of a notary,

– Passports: authentic copies of IDs/passports can´t be made, so if you are asked to provide a certified copy of your passport somewhere, make a plain copy and mention that according to the valid Czech laws, no other way is possible.

Purchasing real-estate property in the Czech Republic

Purchasing real-estate property in the Czech Republic by foreigners is generally regulated by Act Nr. 219/1995 Coll. The notary can draft a notarial deed (by law in Czech language only) regarding the transfer (buying/donation contract) of the real-estate property, further on, the notary can provide the custody of purchase price and do all necessary authentications. If you don´t understand Czech, a court interpreter has to be present at the reading/signing of the contract and translate the document for you (this applies to all notarial deeds, by law, so don´t be upset when a notary refuses to complete the articles of association of your company without an interpreter, knowing, that your understanding of Czech is very basic – the notary is simply obliged to ensure, that you understood the text). You can find the list of court interpreters in the Yellow Pages or at www.justice.cz

Notarial Custody

A handy mechanism that (above all) enables you to purchase real-estate property, respectively to transfer the purchase price, without risk.

Czech real-estate property is subject to registration at the Land Register (Katastrální úřad; www.cuzk.cz) and any change of ownership will only be made official after this change has been marked in this register (meaning after the request of the registration and sufficient number of copies of buying/donation contracts have been properly delivered and processed in the Register) – the transfer is then made official in the past, towards the date of conclusion of the respective contract. When purchasing partners want to make sure the property is re-registered under the name of the new owner and at the same time, that this new owner finally pays the purchase price, they let the purchase price be a subject of notarial custody. This means both parties of the contract come to the notary and in a draw up conditions in a protocol that defines under which conditions the money can be released, for example, after the seller brings the original of the new excerpt from the Register to the notarial office, in which the purchaser is already inscribed as the new owner, and only then will the notary release money to the account of the seller.

Besides money, securities and original documents can also be subject of notarial custody.

Business agenda

The notary can do notarial deeds within the widest business and company law agenda for you, specifically, within the agenda of legal actions of corporations, plus, the notary testifies certain acts and processes, like ballots or general meetings.

Besides the notarial deed, the notary can usually also prepare the supporting documents like lists of shareholders or the necessary proposals for the Commercial Register.

The time within which you can get an appointment for the notarial deed that you need, varies: some offices have more people and can thus do things faster, some are small and you will have to wait. You can, of course, choose the notary, though – so if you are offered an appointment for a transfer of a share in two months, you can call somewhere else.

Be prepared that even if the notary offers you a prompt term of meeting, in most cases, you will be asked to provide (fax/e-mail) copies of the necessary documents in advance (typically the recent Commercial Register excerpt of your company, articles of association, lease contract for real-estate, IDs of the associates, etc.), while at some point (usually at the meeting itself), you will also have to present the originals.

If you don´t understand Czech – again, as in the case of any other notarial deeds – a court interpreter has to be present. The interpreter is not needed, though, if the notary himself knows your language to a sufficient extent.

Writing a testament

According to Czech law, a person can write the so-called “holographic” testament (written, signed and dated by hand), or “allographic” testament (in the presence of two witnesses); both of these it is possible to bring to the notary office for custody. The safest and the most secure form of testament, though, is the one written by the notary in the rigorous form of notarial deed. Nationality or citizenship is not decisive – anyone can conclude a testament as notarial deed. One advantage of this testament is the presumption of justice. In case of dispute among heirs, nobody can question the will if it was written by the respective person, or, if the person was legally capable of taking such legal action like a last will. Another advantage is that it doesn´t get lost, because the original will remains at the notary office. It is also registered at the Central Register of Testaments, where ithin the eventual inheritance procedure, all and any testaments that the deceased person concluded in the form of notarial deed or made subject of notarial custody can be found.

As with any other notarial deeds, testaments must also be written in Czech only by the notary, but bringing a court interpreter with you solves the problem, plus, you can let your copy be officially translated afterwards.

When you don´t know exactly what you want

Make an appointment with the notary (if the notary doesn´t speak your language, bring somebody who will translate; of course, for counsel purposes this does not need to be a court interpreter). This consulting is generally included in the cost of the service that is provided afterwards.

How much does the notary cost?

The notarial tariff (Act Nr. 196/2001 Coll.) prescribes all notarial rates per act/deed, respectively; the law sets up the mechanism by which these should be determined. The rates are, thus, fixed, so for the same deed, you should be paying the same price at any notary. The costs of authentications are CZK 35, 50 per signature or per page of an authentic copy. In case of foreign language documents without translation, the notary is authorized to charge up to a double per signature/per page of the standard rate.

In most of other notarial activity (civil law and commercial law contracts, custody), the cost of the deed is either determined based on the financial value of the subject of the deal, or, fixed rates per deed are applied. Example: when buying a house, the number from which the notarial fees will be determined is the value of the house, declared by a court expert who evaluated the property according to valid rules. Or: when placing money into notarial custody, the fees are determined from the sum you are depositing. But: for placing your hand-written testament into notarial custody, you will be charged a fixed rate of CZK 900.

The notary is authorized to charge the cash expenses, too (e.g. copies or gas, when the meeting takes place outside of the office). Also note, that there is a 19% V.A.T. imposed on the notarial services, so if the power of attorney in a form of notarial deed costs CZK 1000 in the notarial tariff, it actually means CZK 1190.

By Blanka Čechová, Exclusively for Expats.cz

After having encountered quite a few lost expat souls, wondering around the hallways of notary offices from one detailed Czech sign to another in the hopeless intention of getting the front page of their passport notarized (which is, btw, not possible), I assumed, that from the perspective of foreigners, the Czech notaries might appear like a bit of mysterious and sometimes a pretty inaccessible feature. To make sure, I did a test: I tried to imagine for 20 minutes that I am a foreigner who doesn´t speak much Czech and who seeks a notary…

In fact, I spent much more than 20 minutes hooked to the Internet trying to find any information about Czech notaries in English. Result: zero. It is, then, time to make some contribution here.

What can the notary do for you

The Czech notaries are generally active in three areas: civil law, business law and civil procedure. – Within civil procedure, notaries are in charge of inheritance procedures (which can concern a foreigner in case he becomes heir by the title of law or in somebody´s last will). Another feature of the notarial agenda is drawing up testaments (see below what to do when you want to do so), which falls into the area of civil law, though, as well as drafting civil law contracts, namely those regarding real-estate property, providing notarial custody (of money/securities/documents) and taking care of all sorts of family law acts (like prenuptial agreements).

In the area of business law, there is a number of legal actions, that are legally required to be done in the form of notarial record (e.g. the changing of the articles of association of an Ltd.); besides that, the notary provides a large scale of other features within business and company law (foundation of companies, transfers of shares, transformations of companies, mergers, etc.). A notary can also authenticate signatures, documents and declarations. Last but not least – in civil procedure, the notary can represent a client in front of the court. Added up: in the area of private law (civil, family, business law), the notary can provide a full-service.

The Skywalkers of law

The position of a notary within the system of Czech law is unique: even though the Commercial Code considers notaries to be entrepreneurs, at the same time, notaries possess certain public authority, respectively the power delegated on to him by the state in specific areas. This private-public nature of the notarial job makes it not only an exclusive profession, but brings additional rules and responsibilities, too (e.g. the notaries are not allowed to advertise their services, so the individual offices can´t have their own websites, they must not have larger or more enhanced door-signs then prescribed, so it is often hard to find a notary – on the Internet or even simply at his street).

The notarial deeds (e.g. contracts, powers of attorney, articles of association, etc., written up in a specific and rigorous form by the notary) are considered to include presumption of justice, which practically means that in case of a dispute, the court will not question the statements declared in the notarial record. When drafting the notarial deeds and/or executing other tasks of his professional activity, the notary – unlike attorney – stands on neither side of the deal. He is not supposed to defend the rights of one party – he must prevent disputes and thus, defend the rights of all parties of the contract. Referring to your notary as “my notary“ doesn´t have the same meaning as saying “my lawyer“ or “my attorney“ – the attorney is allowed to commit a lot, including passionate and sophisticated lying, in favor of his client, while the notary has to always stand aside of any particular interests.

Now – let´s talk in a little bit of detail about the services that the notaries are asked for from the side of foreigners most frequently:

Authentication

This is a typical agenda of a notary, which divides into two major activities: the legalization of signatures and the certification of documents.

General hints:

– The notary office is not like a classical law firm that can assist you 24/7 – when doing authentications; the notary is performing his public authority and is thus supposed to have official hours. Don´t be angry, when they don´t let you even in only 10 minutes after these hours – when you go to the post office, the guys also don´t re-open after their official opening time. They have other things in their program besides doing authentications.

– A similar thing: don´t expect to run into an office with 60 documents of which you need authentic copies, 10 minutes before the notary closes, or, don´t be upset if your 15 signatures are not legalized within 10 minutes of waiting outside in the corridor. It does take time to do even just stamping, filling out, checking and binding properly. Even if all this authenticating looks like a mechanical job of copying and stamping, it can amount to a huge responsibility if something goes wrong. So no wonder, that the notary or his employees better double check each ID and every single page of a document before putting the stamp on it.

– For large authentications (not meaning lots of pages, but lots of signatures or lots of separate documents to be authenticated, or – if you haven´t made your copies – also lots of copying to be done), it´s better to make an appointment in advance, or leave the documents at the office and pick them up later, so that you don´t need to wait.

– Authentications are also provided at the Municipal Authorities (Obecní úřad, Městský úřad, Úřad Městské části). However they will not authenticate documents with foreign language text or seals that can be pasted on (as opposed to being printed on). It is a good idea to check before you stand in line

– It is usually not the notary who does authentications in the office; it is the trainees or other employees – that is why there is also another name and signature beside the authentications clause than the one of the notary.

– One of the Czech signs on the notary´s door, that you might have been trying to decode, says „Our clients are kindly requested to inform us, if the document/signature to be authenticated is intended for use abroad.“ This is important: only the notary or his substitute are allowed to sign authentications (both legalizations and authentic copies) on documents that you will be using abroad, so you´d better say it, so you don´t need to come again after your document was sent back to you from abroad.

– In most notarial offices, they will also copy your originals of which you want the copies, BUT – if you have some difficult material (folded A3 formats, docs with lots of staples/bindings, which are difficult to copy and have to be copied manually page by page), better let this be copied for you in a copy-shop. In fact, the notary can´t charge anything for the authentications´ copying, so no wonder he can get upset when queues of people ask him to copy large and difficult originals on a parchment. The standard copying is, in fact, sort of a bonus you get when you don´t have your own copies.

– if you have to make an official translation of a Czech document that requires authentication, have the signatures/copies legalized in the Czech version of the document and then let the whole thing be translated – the text of the stamps is Czech, so if they are placed in the document that has already been translated, there will most likely be an additional translation necessary, exclusively the one of the stamps.

– Czech Notaries will not sign the back of your passport photo

– The notary can´t be held liable for the contents of the documents (neither those on which he legalizes your signature, nor the originals out of which he makes authentic copies).

Legalization of signatures

– This is to be written on the walls and repeated like a mantra: for legalization of YOUR signature it is YOU who has to come – otherwise this whole legalization entertainment would lack any sense: it serves to confirm, that it was you who signed the document, which was proved to the notary by your valid piece of identification and confirmed by you signing the legalization book at the same time. If you objectively can´t make it to a notary office (e.g. you are in the hospital), ask the notary to come to you; it varies, though – some offices have more trainees that can make it to you within three days, others are busy and will have the time only within three weeks,

– your identity card has to be issued by a state authority and has to contain your photograph at the same time (insurance cards, credit cards, student identities, etc., are, thus, not accepted),

– You don´t need to worry if you signed the document already before coming to the notary office – both is possible: you either sign the paper in front of the notary, or – if you signed it before – you declare that the signature on the paper is yours,

– If for some reason you don´t have any ID (lost, stolen, forgotten) and still you need your signature be legalized, this can be done at the presence of two witnesses (that both DO have their IDs, though!), who confirm your identity in front of the notary/trainee.

– If you are signing a fill-in form style of document, it is necessary to fill out all fields or neatly cross them out, so don´t be surprised when the notary asks you to fill a paper out completely. This is also to protect you: if the document with your legalized signature gets lost or stolen afterwards, anybody can fill in the blanks that are left empty and it would still be you who signed the document – and even in front of a notary.

– The document you are signing has to be able to have legal consequences, which generally means that it represents some legal action (typically a declaration, a power of attorney, a contract, etc.), so being upset at the notary when he refuses to legalize your signature under an essay entitled “What I really think about George W. Bush” is not helpful; the law simply sets out certain requirements.

– When legalizing your signature, the notary is not responsible for you understanding the document you are signing; it is him, though, who has to understand the contents (to describe the document in the legalization´s book), plus, he confirms that you were you (from seeing your ID) and that you signed the paper (from seeing you signing it).

– As the notary has to understand the contents of the document on which he legalizes your signature (unlike in the case of making authentic copies), he can ask you to provide an official translation, if he doesn´t know e.g. Spanish. Official translation means the one made by a court interpreter, so providing translations without the necessary stamp, will probably be refused no matter how brilliant they may be.

Certification of documents

– For certifications of documents, respectively for making the authentic copies, you don´t need to submit an ID – copies are not being registered anywhere, so it is irrelevant who brings them into the office,

– the Czech Notarial Act prohibits making authentic copies of technical drawings/identity cards/value bills and other documents, the originality of which can´t be duplicated by authentic copy,

– An authentic copy can be created only from an original, which means that a plain piece of paper with typed text without any stamp and/or signature can have a whatever importance and original value for you, but it is not considered an original document by the Czech law. So note that an original always has to contain something that really establishes this originality (signature, stamp). The authentic copy has the same legal validity as the original, so the notary is not allowed to create duplicates of papers, that were not originals, and suddenly they would become ones – being stamped by the seal of a notary,

– Passports: authentic copies of IDs/passports can´t be made, so if you are asked to provide a certified copy of your passport somewhere, make a plain copy and mention that according to the valid Czech laws, no other way is possible.

Purchasing real-estate property in the Czech Republic

Purchasing real-estate property in the Czech Republic by foreigners is generally regulated by Act Nr. 219/1995 Coll. The notary can draft a notarial deed (by law in Czech language only) regarding the transfer (buying/donation contract) of the real-estate property, further on, the notary can provide the custody of purchase price and do all necessary authentications. If you don´t understand Czech, a court interpreter has to be present at the reading/signing of the contract and translate the document for you (this applies to all notarial deeds, by law, so don´t be upset when a notary refuses to complete the articles of association of your company without an interpreter, knowing, that your understanding of Czech is very basic – the notary is simply obliged to ensure, that you understood the text). You can find the list of court interpreters in the Yellow Pages or at www.justice.cz

Notarial Custody

A handy mechanism that (above all) enables you to purchase real-estate property, respectively to transfer the purchase price, without risk.

Czech real-estate property is subject to registration at the Land Register (Katastrální úřad; www.cuzk.cz) and any change of ownership will only be made official after this change has been marked in this register (meaning after the request of the registration and sufficient number of copies of buying/donation contracts have been properly delivered and processed in the Register) – the transfer is then made official in the past, towards the date of conclusion of the respective contract. When purchasing partners want to make sure the property is re-registered under the name of the new owner and at the same time, that this new owner finally pays the purchase price, they let the purchase price be a subject of notarial custody. This means both parties of the contract come to the notary and in a draw up conditions in a protocol that defines under which conditions the money can be released, for example, after the seller brings the original of the new excerpt from the Register to the notarial office, in which the purchaser is already inscribed as the new owner, and only then will the notary release money to the account of the seller.

Besides money, securities and original documents can also be subject of notarial custody.

Business agenda

The notary can do notarial deeds within the widest business and company law agenda for you, specifically, within the agenda of legal actions of corporations, plus, the notary testifies certain acts and processes, like ballots or general meetings.

Besides the notarial deed, the notary can usually also prepare the supporting documents like lists of shareholders or the necessary proposals for the Commercial Register.

The time within which you can get an appointment for the notarial deed that you need, varies: some offices have more people and can thus do things faster, some are small and you will have to wait. You can, of course, choose the notary, though – so if you are offered an appointment for a transfer of a share in two months, you can call somewhere else.

Be prepared that even if the notary offers you a prompt term of meeting, in most cases, you will be asked to provide (fax/e-mail) copies of the necessary documents in advance (typically the recent Commercial Register excerpt of your company, articles of association, lease contract for real-estate, IDs of the associates, etc.), while at some point (usually at the meeting itself), you will also have to present the originals.

If you don´t understand Czech – again, as in the case of any other notarial deeds – a court interpreter has to be present. The interpreter is not needed, though, if the notary himself knows your language to a sufficient extent.

Writing a testament

According to Czech law, a person can write the so-called “holographic” testament (written, signed and dated by hand), or “allographic” testament (in the presence of two witnesses); both of these it is possible to bring to the notary office for custody. The safest and the most secure form of testament, though, is the one written by the notary in the rigorous form of notarial deed. Nationality or citizenship is not decisive – anyone can conclude a testament as notarial deed. One advantage of this testament is the presumption of justice. In case of dispute among heirs, nobody can question the will if it was written by the respective person, or, if the person was legally capable of taking such legal action like a last will. Another advantage is that it doesn´t get lost, because the original will remains at the notary office. It is also registered at the Central Register of Testaments, where ithin the eventual inheritance procedure, all and any testaments that the deceased person concluded in the form of notarial deed or made subject of notarial custody can be found.

As with any other notarial deeds, testaments must also be written in Czech only by the notary, but bringing a court interpreter with you solves the problem, plus, you can let your copy be officially translated afterwards.

When you don´t know exactly what you want

Make an appointment with the notary (if the notary doesn´t speak your language, bring somebody who will translate; of course, for counsel purposes this does not need to be a court interpreter). This consulting is generally included in the cost of the service that is provided afterwards.

How much does the notary cost?

The notarial tariff (Act Nr. 196/2001 Coll.) prescribes all notarial rates per act/deed, respectively; the law sets up the mechanism by which these should be determined. The rates are, thus, fixed, so for the same deed, you should be paying the same price at any notary. The costs of authentications are CZK 35, 50 per signature or per page of an authentic copy. In case of foreign language documents without translation, the notary is authorized to charge up to a double per signature/per page of the standard rate.

In most of other notarial activity (civil law and commercial law contracts, custody), the cost of the deed is either determined based on the financial value of the subject of the deal, or, fixed rates per deed are applied. Example: when buying a house, the number from which the notarial fees will be determined is the value of the house, declared by a court expert who evaluated the property according to valid rules. Or: when placing money into notarial custody, the fees are determined from the sum you are depositing. But: for placing your hand-written testament into notarial custody, you will be charged a fixed rate of CZK 900.

The notary is authorized to charge the cash expenses, too (e.g. copies or gas, when the meeting takes place outside of the office). Also note, that there is a 19% V.A.T. imposed on the notarial services, so if the power of attorney in a form of notarial deed costs CZK 1000 in the notarial tariff, it actually means CZK 1190.

How to find the notary

Most notaries can be accessed by e-mail, and you can find a list of notaries at www.nkcr.cz (only in Czech and French, no English version unfortunately), go to “Seznam notářů” and search by name or district (type in Czech, incl. háčky and čárky). You get the complete contact information and opening hours. Also, you can check out the Yellow Pages, section „Notáři“- in there, though, you get only the phone numbers, not the e-mails.

Most notaries can be accessed by e-mail, and you can find a list of notaries at www.nkcr.cz (only in Czech and French, no English version unfortunately), go to “Seznam notářů” and search by name or district (type in Czech, incl. háčky and čárky). You get the complete contact information and opening hours. Also, you can check out the Yellow Pages, section „Notáři“- in there, though, you get only the phone numbers, not the e-mails.


Tip: Visit Expats.cz Relocation for more relocation articles, relocation agencies and other tips for life in Prague & the Czech Republic!

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