American Citizen Services
We can only provide notary services for U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (i.e. Green card holders), or when the documents to be notarized will be used in the United States. We are typically unable to notarize documents brought in by foreign nationals to be used outside of the U.S.
For us to notarize your documents, you must ...
- Make an appointment. There are no exceptions. Please make an appointment here
- Have a valid, government-issued photo ID. Visit our information page for more information regarding valid IDs.
- Understand your document, including why and where you will sign. Embassy staff are unable to explain to you the contents of your documents and may be unable to notarize the document if you do not understand its meaning or significance.
- Complete the document with the appropriate names, places, and dates before you arrive, but do not sign the document. You will be asked to take an oath and sign the document in front of a consular officer.
- Pay the notary fee ($50 per notarized document). Please visit our website for more information on fees.
- If your document requires the presence of witnesses in addition to the notarization, you must supply these witnesses. Embassy staff are unable to 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 ('jitsuin') 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 adviser before coming to see us to have your power of attorney notarized.
Affidavit of Competency to Marry
If you are planning to marry a non-U.S. citizen, you will need to fill out an “Affidavit of Competency to Marry,” using this form (PDF 158KB). The form has two pages, one to be completed in English and the other to be used to translate the English page into Japanese. The Japanese translation page does not need to be notarized.
If you and your spouse-to-be are both U.S. citizens, you must each complete a sworn “Affidavit of Competency to Marry.” Use this form (PDF 77KB) in the case of two U.S. citizens marrying each other. Please note this form has two pages, one to be completed in English and the other to be used to translate the English page into Japanese. The Japanese translation does not need to be notarized.
Learn more about the requirements for getting married in Japan at our “Marriage in Japan” page.
An Affidavit is a sworn statement used for a variety of purposes. The U.S. Embassy does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in the affidavit. Rather, the U.S. Embassy simply verifies the identity of the individual(s) signing the affidavit.
Use our affidavit form to make your statement, but please do not sign it yet. You will be placed under oath by a consular officer and sign the document in his/her presence. Please note that the U.S. Embassy is unable to provide advice about the content or uses of the affidavit, including with respect to documents to be submitted to a Japanese government office or agency. Please consult with the relevant Japanese authorities directly as to whether a notarized affidavit is acceptable in your situation.
Notarizing a Translation of a Document
The U.S. Embassy/Consulates does not provide translation services.
If you bring the original document and the English translation, we are able to notarize the translation using an “Affidavit” form. An affidavit is a sworn statement and may be used in different situations for many different purposes. The translator of the document must show up in person at the Embassy/Consulate with a valid I.D. and sign in front of a consular officer.
Affidavits to be Used for Japanese Corporate Registration
The "Japanese Law for the Registration of Foreign Corporations" states that 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."
We cannot advise you about the specific language needed in your affidavit, so please consult a lawyer or other adviser for that type of assistance before coming to have the document notarized.
Please fill out the form before you come to our office, but do not sign the document. You will sign in the presence of a consul officer.
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.
Certified True Copies of Foreign Passports for Obtaining an ITIN Number
The U.S. Embassy or Consulates can certify true copies of foreign passports for obtaining an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) or PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) for use in dealing with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Please make sure to bring the original foreign passport to your appointment. If you wish to appoint a third party to obtain the certified true copy on your behalf, please have that individual bring in a photo ID along with your original foreign passports. In such cases, a letter of proxy is not necessary.
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.
Redeeming U.S. Savings Bonds Outside the United States
If you are outside the United States, there are two ways to redeem (cash in) your paper bonds. Please refer to the Treasury Direct website for detailed instructions. Please note the Embassy/Consulate is unable to cash savings bonds. Our role is simply to provide notarial services related to redeeming bonds.
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.
Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions.
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