Two years ago, my wife and I disposed of 99% of our belongings in Florida and moved to Mexico. We now spend our days enjoying the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Riviera Maya. We love it here so much that we rarely return to the old country.
Our prolonged absence from the U.S. can make it difficult to get certain things done. A recent example of this – and the inspiration for today’s post – came when a business in the U.S. asked me to have some legal documents notarized.
Where to Go
I discovered that there are very few options if you need to have something notarized outside of the country. The easiest one is to make an appointment at the nearest United States Embassy, Consulate, or Consular Office and have it done there.
Another possible option is to have the document notarized by a foreign notary and then have the document authenticated for use in the United States. The authentication certificate is called an apostille.
Since that second option seemed like more of a hassle, I decided to turn to Uncle Sam for some assistance. Lucky for me, the nearest U.S. Consular Office was only about 35 minutes away in Playa del Carmen.
I made an appointment for the following week and the whole process took less than 10 minutes.
Even though I didn’t expect the notary service to be free, I did expect it to be on par with notary fees in the United States — unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
The federal government charges it’s citizens abroad $50 per notary seal. The document that I had required two notary seals, which ended up costing me a jaw-dropping $100 USD. I have to admit, I feel a little taken advantage of by Uncle Sam.
The $50 fee charged by the government is actually 10 times more than the maximum notary fee permitted by law in the majority of states in the U.S. In case you were unaware of this, 42 states have enacted laws governing the fees that notaries can charge for their services.
Just for comparison purposes, here is a chart of the maximum fees permitted back home:
Let’s Wrap This Up
After this experience, I’ve decided that if I ever have to get multiple notary signatures again, I’m just going to spend the money on a plane ticket home to Florida and get it done for free at my bank. A round trip ticket to Orlando actually costs less than having six signatures notarized at a U.S. Consular Office.