American Citizen Services
Notarial services provided by the Embassy and Consulates are primarily for the benefit of American citizens, legal permanent residents (i.e. 'Green Card' holders), their spouses and dependents. Foreign nationals may also have documents notarized, but usually only if the documents will be used in the United States. On exceptionally busy days we may limit the number of documents that may be notarized.
What you'll need to bring along ...
For us to notarize your documents, you must:
- Have government-issued photo ID. As some forms of Japanese ID do not show romanized characters, a passport is your best option. If your name contains difficult or rarely-used kanji, we may not be able to complete your service without a second, government-issued photo ID with a romanized name;
- Understand your document. We are not allowed to explain the contents to you;
- Complete the document with the appropriate names, places, and dates before you arrive (but don't sign it; you'll sign it at the Embassy or Consulate in front of a Consul);
- For fees, visit our information page on fees.
- If your document requires the presence of witnesses in addition to the notarization, you must supply these witnesses. Our staff cannot act as witnesses.
Types of Notarials
Americans are often asked for a "sign certificate" or a "signature certificate" when buying a car, renting an apartment or opening a business in Japan. These certificates fill the role of the the personal seals ('inkan') that Japanese citizens use for formalizing documents, and which are registered with the local city hall or ward office.
"Sign certificate" (PDF 63KB) forms are available online.
This service is only available to American citizens. You must bring your passport with you when you come to have your "sign certificate" notarized in order to prove that you are a U.S. citizen.
Please fill the form out before you come to our offices, but do not sign it in advance.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to designate someone to take legal actions on your behalf. A common example of this is empowering someone else to buy or sell property in the U.S. in your name while you are overseas. Since we cannot advise you on the specific language or content of a power of attorney, please consult a lawyer or other appropriate advisor before coming to see us to have your power of attorney notarized.
An affidavit is a sworn statement. Affadavits may be used in many different situations for many different purposes. Using our blank affidavit form (PDF 55KB), you can write out any statement you may wish to make. Please remember not to sign the form before you come to the office. You will need to sign it in front of the consular officer.
We cannot advise you about the specific language needed in your affidavit, so please consult a lawyer or other advisor for that type of assistance before coming to have the document notarized.
Affidavit of Competency to Marry
Japanese law requires all foreigners who marry in Japan, whether they are marrying other foreigners or Japanese nationals, to first prepare a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry (Konin Yoken Gubi Shomeisho), notarized by their own country's embassy or consulate in Japan, affirming that they are legally free to marry.
You can download a blank single affidavit form here (PDF 158KB). You should use this form if you are planning to marry someone who is not a U.S. citizen. The form has two parts, one to be completed in English and the other to be completed in Japanese. The consular officer will notarize only the English language document.
If your partner is also an American, s/he must also complete a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry at the Embassy or consulate. Use this form (PDF 77KB) in cases of two Americans marrying one another. As with the previous case, this form has a Japanese-language section and an English section. Only the English section needs to be notarized.
You can find out more about requirements for getting married in Japan at our "Marriage in Japan" page.
Affidavits to be Used for Japanese Corporate Registration
According to Japanese Law for the Registration of Foreign Corporations, the documents required to register a company or update a company's registered information "shall be attested by the competent authority in the native country of the foreign company, or by the Consul of that native country of the company or any other official in Japan." However, our offices are not authorized to notarize documents for use in Japan unless the notarizing party is an American citizen or legal permanent resident.
Non-U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents seeking notarials on documents to be used outside of the United States (i.e. Japan or elsewhere) should request such services from their home government/embassy and/or as specified by Japanese procedures. Some types of business documents may be notarized by Japanese notaries, so individuals are encouraged to research Japanese procedures to ensure compliance.
Corporate Affidavits and Acknowledgements
Often, customers include a title, or "corporate identity," when signing these types of documents. Examples of corporate identities would be "president," "managing director," or "representative." If you wish to sign with a corporate identity, please be prepared to present adequate documentation to prove that identity to the consul. Business cards and letterhead will not be accepted as proof of corporate identity.
Alternatively, you may wish to alter the language of your document to include language such as "who acknowledged himself to be the (TITLE) of (CORPORATION NAME)" or be prepared to cross out references to corporate identities within the document to be notarized.
Acknowledgement of Execution
An Acknowledgement of Execution is a notary which verifies that a particular person signed a given document. It is often used for legal agreements, business documents, etc. It is also used when more than two signatures are required on the document but all of the parties who must sign are not present. We can notarize (or acknowledge) only the signatures of those who are present to sign in front of us or appear in front of us and verify that they have signed the document.
Certification of True Copies of Documents
Occasionally, we get requests to certify true copies of educational transcripts or diplomas, bank statements, court documents, or other such official records. Unfortunately, our offices cannot ordinarily provide certified true copies of documents. Such requests should usually be addressed to the office which issued the document in question. For example, certified true copies of academic records should be requested from the registrar of the institution that originally issued them. For more information on this subject, please consult the State Department's website.
Signature (or "Medallion") Guarantees
As opposed to the ubiquitous "sign certificate" needed in Japan to, for example, buy/sell a car or rent an apartment, medallion signature guarantees are often required by U.S. banks or mutual fund companies. Unfortunately, we cannot legally perform a signature guarantee.
A Medallion Signature Guarantee is not a notarial service, but rather a special procedure related to securities, which can only be performed by an authorized representative of a financial institution participating in a medallion program approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). U.S. consular officers are not authorized to provide a signature guarantee/medallion guarantee service.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may be contacted directly via the Internet, via phone at 1-800-SEC-0330 (investor assistance and complaints), via fax at 202-942-7040, or by mail at Mail Stop 11-2, 450 Fifth Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549.
Information on Japanese Notaries
In some cases, individuals residing in Japan may wish to seek the services of a Japanese notary. American Citizen Services (ACS) encourages clients who require Japanese notarials for documents, such as notarial deeds, authentication of private documents and articles of incorporation, affidavits and the attachment of officially-attested dates, to visit the website (look for the English button on the front of the home page) of the Japan National Notaries Association (JNNA) for more information about types of notarials, fees and locations of notary offices. ACS also has a directory of notary offices in Japan, including names of notaries, which is also available on the JNNA website. Please note that neither ACS nor the Japan National Notaries Association has information on which notaries provide services in English.
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