Check out our answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:
The primary prerequisite for entry into the Notary Education Program (NEP) is the successful completion, or near completion, of the Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies (MA ALS) offered exclusively through Simon Fraser University. Graduate studies admission guidelines require applicants possess a minimum CGPA of 3.0 from a recognized post-secondary degree. For this reason, prior to competing the MA ALS, the Notary Education Program does not accept any educational credential below a four-year degree, nor are we able to waive this requirement for any applicant.
Please review the following categories that individuals with a Canadian JD may fall into:
- Practicing – In the province of British Columbia, lawyers are also notaries public. In other words, practicing lawyers are able to provide all the same services that members of the SNPBC offer. The Society of Notaries Public does not grant and/or manage notarial seals for lawyers in the province. All questions regarding lawyers who are members of the Law Society of BC should be made to the Law Society of British Columbia.
- Non-Practicing – Individuals that have a JD (but are non-practicing) may be admitted to the Notary Education Program. These applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, it is ultimately up to the committee whether an individual is required to successfully complete all of some of the Notary Education Program. The review considers whether the applicant’s JD has courses that are significantly similar to those included in the MA ALS program. Any applicant will be required to successfully complete the commissioning examinations before being eligible to become a member of the SNPBC.
No. At this time the Society only recognizes Canadian JD law degrees as meeting equivalency to the MA ALS program. Individuals with international law degrees are subject to complete both the MA ALS and the Notary Education Program (NEP).
*Individuals who have an NCA accreditation and have previously been a member of the Law Society of British Columbia may be reviewed case-by-case for acceptance into a hybrid version of the program.
No, the scope of services offered by Notaries is different from province to province. Notaries in British Columbia practice non-contentious law, we offer many of the same services that lawyers in the province offer. Therefore, Notaries and Lawyers are held to the same standard by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Since we are a self-regulated legal entity, legislation requires all our Notaries possess the same high-level of education. A person who is a notary public in another province may make an application under the labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade or the New West Trade Partnership Agreement. The application will be assessed on the basis of equivalency to practice of a Notary Public in British Columbia. Generally, Notaries from other provinces would be required to complete all components of the MA ALS, Notary Education Program, and the Commissioning examination in order to be commissioned and become a member.
All initial applications are made directly to Simon Fraser University for the Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies (MA ALS). It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they review all of SFU’s graduate studies requirements for international credentials and have all documents received by SFU by their application deadline.
Most international degrees are required to have an equivalency assessment completed by the International Credential Evaluation Services (ICES) provided by BCIT. When putting together your documents, plan for this assessment to take a minimum of 7 weeks to complete. If your program of study was not completed in English, you may also be subject to language testing through TOEFL. Typically, an applicant is required to achieve a minimum score of 7.0..
No. Every year the Society receives applications from a diverse pool of academic backgrounds; we encourage individuals from all disciplines who meet the minimum admission standards to apply. Experience in a law office is highly desirable.
There is no way to guarantee admission to the Notary Education Program (NEP). The NEP remains competitive as it is the only recognized program to become a Notary Public in the province. Individuals can strengthen their applications by:
- gaining experience in legal and/or business environments;
- researching the scope of notarial practice in the province of British Columbia;
- having a career plan that includes researching the community in which they plan to practice;
- maintaining their credit scores and savings;
- writing a strong statement of intent;
- complete the required accounting course before application; and,
- be well prepared for committee interviews.
As of 2018, applicants are required to possess a basic university level accounting course. Some applicants may already meet this condition if they have taken an accounting course as part of their previous education.
If you completed a degree that does not have an accounting component, you must enroll in a single introductory level accounting course offered through a recognized post-secondary institution. If you are unsure whether you meet this requirement, or what courses you should take, send an inquiry and we will be happy to assist you.
As of 2018, applicants are required to provide a writing sample as part of their application to the Society for entry into the Notary Education Program. The writing exercise is mandatory for all applicants. Applicants will be given a short passage to read, they will then be required to write a well formulated response to that passage within a timed session. The exercise is designed to measure the applicant’s ability to think critically about the topic they are given; it is also used to assess an applicant’s ability to present their argument logically in an essay format. While the exercise is not used to test an applicant’s legal knowledge, the committee does take into consideration how well the applicant is able to demonstrate their competency in English writing.
Some accommodations may be made upon request.
Simon Fraser University is the only institution that has been approved to offer this program in partnership with the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia. The only recognized “equivalent” to the MA ALS is the successful completion of a JD from any recognized Canadian law school.
No, the MA ALS is the only credential that satisfies the primary admissions requirement for entry into the Notary Education Program. The only recognized “equivalent” to the MA ALS is the successful completion of a JD from any recognized Canadian law school.
Great question! In moving to a more streamlined process, applicants are now required to apply to SFU’s MA ALS directly. Once completed, or near completion of the MA ALS program, applications to the Notary Education Program can be made. The next application pool for the MA ALS program opens in November, this is for a September 2022 start date. Students will, therefore, only be eligible to apply to the Notary Education program in September 2023.
This change should create a straightforward application experience that caters to both the applicant and Simons Frasers graduate program’s admissions council.
No, there is no guarantee that an applicant will be accepted into the Notary Education program (NEP) after completing the MA ALS. While the primary prerequisite for entry into the NEP is the MA ALS, applicants are still subject to the Society’s admission requirements. Failure to satisfy any of the requirements could result in an applicant not being admitted. The Society recommends reviewing the application requirements before applying to the MA ALS; applicants should be aware that credit, criminal history, and identity checks are done as part of the application process.
The cost of the program is currently under review as part of the redesign initiative. It is expected that the cost of the program will be between $9,000 and $12,000 (CAD). We anticipate that the cost of the program will be published in January 2023.
The costs associated with running a law practice vary greatly depending on a number of factors. However, membership dues for the Society are approximately $3,000 per year. Professional indemnity insurance is provided through a captive insurance company. In 2021, the cost of insurance was $7,500 and is expected to increase by 30% due to claims exposure. It is recommended that members budget $12,000 per year for mandatory fees and insurance