In a phrase: Night & Day.
It’s fascinating transitioning into this culture from the United States. So many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what it is to buy and hold real estate in the great Country of Mexico. And if you’re one of the brave souls that decides to buy a property in this strange Southern Country… What then?
Perhaps first and foremost would be understanding the basics of buying and selling real estate in Mexico. And one of the first questions that will come up is what is a Notario in Mexico? Let’s take a quick “reader’s digest” view of these important differences between a Notary in the United States and a Mexican Notario.
The Relevant Romans:
Mexico is a civil law jurisdiction based on Roman civil law, under which a Notario plays a much larger role than a Notary in the U.S. and with greater responsibility. To become a US notary all that is required is a weekend class, a short test, and a fee. For a Mexican Notario, the requirements are VERY different.
A Mexican Notario must hold a Law Degree with a specialty in Notarial Law, have at least three years of experience at a Notario office, and pass a stringent final exam. Those who qualify and pass typically are appointed as a Notario by the Office of the State Governor. These are selecting coveted and limited positions in the Country of Mexico.
These men and women have a sacred responsibility that they are personal guarantors for all the transactions that close and the tax consequences therein. It is a very serious position here in Mexico and these folks are well respected within the community.
Comparatively, as was referenced above, In the United States, a Notary does not need a Law Degree, and becoming a notary is a much simpler process involving filing the necessary documents, paying the applicable fees, and not having a criminal record. This can be accomplished over a weekend!
It’s About Commitment to the Transaction and Liability:
As explained above, in the US it is not mandatory to be a lawyer to be a Notary. In fact, most Notaries in the US have only a high school education. A U.S. Notary is therefore forbidden from providing any type of legal advice or drafting legal documents.
In Mexico, on the other hand, a Notario can
- Provide legal advice
- Issue judicial opinions
- Oversee the drafting of legal documents
- Certify legal documents’ validity
- Intervene in judicial proceedings
- May act as an arbitrator or mediator
- And most important, a Notario can be held liable in both civil and criminal matters.
As you can see there are great and numerous differences between the roles and the scope of legal powers of Mexican Notarios and U.S. Notaries.
“Helping you is what we do!”