Q&A: Elaine Wright Reflects On The Global Role Of The Notary
Elaine Wright, NNA’s 2009 Notary of The Year, loves traveling around the world and, as a dedicated Notary educator and Signing Agent, takes time during her sojourns to meet with Notaries worldwide. The International Section caught up with Elaine to discuss her recent trip to Australia and New Zealand and what she discovered after her encounter with Notaries Down Under.
How have your travels influenced your views of the Notary role worldwide?
I make it a practice to visit a Notary Public office whenever I travel out of the country. When I visited the Notary Public office in London, England, in 2000 I was amazed to learn the education one has to have to become a Notary Public there, as well as the ability to speak multiple languages.
What did you discover about the Notary role in Australia and how it differs from the U.S. Notary system?
I met with two Justices of the Peace in Sydney, who explained that notarizations in Australia are performed by both Notaries Public (NP) and Justices of the Peace (JP). A Notary Public has more powers than the Justice of the Peace, who is limited to notarizing certain types of documents such as affidavits. Notaries Public have the additional power to notarize documents going out of the country. Both positions have substantial training requirements, whereas in the United States, training is subject to state laws. My state does not require training; however, it does encourage training. While U.S. Notary procedures seem to vary by state, it appears that the procedures in Australia are regulated for all Notaries and Justices of the Peace throughout the country.
What lessons might the U.S. learn from the Australian Notary system?
I like the idea of the dual system in Australia. I would propose a "trio" Notary system in the United States: A Justice of the Peace would handle everyday type notarizations, excluding more complex notarizations; the Notary Public would handle everyday and more complex notarizations; and Notary Signing Agents would handle mortgage type notarizations only. I would suggest that Notaries Public be required to meet more stringent criteria.
Elaine has documented her South Pacific trip on a blog.