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The Role of the Notary in Mexico

by Brent May

If you are considering buying a home, have done any other legal transactions in Mexico or opened a business, you will likely have already met a Notary or Notario.

Notaries in Mexico have vastly different competencies than in the U.S. or Canada.

 

What is a notary in Mexico?

First of all, Mexican notaries take their oath of office at the National College of Notarios. They must hold a law degree specializing in notarial law. To complete their studies, they will have at least three years of experience at a notary’s office. As an experienced lawyer, if they qualify, they pass a strict final exam. If they pass the exam and the rigorous application process, they are usually appointed “notario” by the state governor’s office.

Notary positions in Mexico are coveted positions because they are limited.  The number of notaries is determined according to the population of a city or jurisdiction. So all notaries are lawyers but very few lawyers achieve the status of notary.

 

What is a notary in the U.S. and Canada?

In the States and Canada, becoming a notary is a simplified process requiring submitting documents, not having a criminal record and paying fees. Being a notary means being a public officer licensed to serve the public in non-contentious affairs. Becoming a notary does not require a law degree and notaries in the U.S. and Canada may not give legal advice or draft legal documents. Notaries in the States and Canada principally serve to notarize documents (witness and authenticate.) A notary may also, according to different states or provinces and jurisdictions, take testimony, affidavits, administer oaths, etc.

Notaries in Mexico therefore, have many more responsibilities and legal capacities than notaries in the U.S. and Canada. Notably, they are legally responsible for ensuring deed titles are clear and recorded at the Public Registry.

What is the role of the notary in Mexico?

Due to the notary’s legal profile in Mexico, a notary can provide legal advice, can research property titles, provide legal opinions, draft or oversee the drafting of legal documents, certify the validity, intervene in judicial proceedings and act as a mediator or arbitrator. Notaries handle wills, business contracts, powers of attorney, creation of mortgages, deeds, real estate purchases and establishment of trusts. Notaries also manage and store original documents.   Due to this, in Mexico, a notary can be held liable in civil and criminal terms.

If you are opening a business in Mexico, the notary will guide you through the whole process with the various government entities. The notario will register your company with the Public Registry of Property and Commerce.

Read more: How to Finance Your New Home in Mexico

 

What is the role of the notary in Mexico in real estate purchases?

In real estate transactions in Mexico, notaries represent the buyer, the seller and the government. Their job in these transactions is to be neutral. Their legal responsibility is to authenticate all the legal documents, transfer of title, calculate capital gains, be sure all taxes are paid on the property, and ratify the transaction. Notaries in Mexico ensure that legal title is properly passed from seller to buyer. Under Mexican Law, the deed to the property must be prepared and processed by a Notary Public and recorded at the Public Registry.

If you are a buyer, it is your legal right to choose the notary for the transaction. Most buyers find the notary through their real estate agency who has strong working relationships with notaries of their jurisdiction.

Read more: How to Purchase a Condo in Mexico

Do I need a lawyer to purchase property in Mexico?

You may also choose to hire a lawyer. Although a notario is a lawyer, they are not your lawyer. They are neutral. The role of the lawyer then would be to assist in finalizing the deal, to make sure there is no human error, to verify that the property title is properly registered, and to verify that taxes and utilities have been paid.

It is possible to work uniquely with the notario unless the purchase is complicated, or you would like additional legal advice about the transaction. In any case, the notario is the most important legal representative involved in your property purchase. Again, it is required by law that a notary prepare and process the deed.  

If you are interested in purchasing property in Mexico, our Mexico Living blog has a multitude of practical resources that will answer many of your questions. Don’t hesitate to check out our listings and get in touch. Our team of experienced real estate agents are backed by an expert legal team so that your transaction goes smoothly.

 

Read more: How to Get Rental Revenue from Your Condo in Huatulco

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