Frequently Asked Questions:
The FAQ has been broken down into four main components that cover the process of becoming a Notary Public in British Columbia. Please see below.
Requirements and Prerequisites
No, completion of the SFU MA ALS program is the prerequisite for Notary Education Program. Furthermore, the Society recognizes degrees obtained from other Canadian law schools.
No, a specific law or legal experience is not necessary to qualify for the Notary Education Program. Each year, SFU accepts applications from individuals with diverse academic backgrounds, and we encourage applicants from all disciplines who meet the minimum admission standards to apply. While not mandatory, having experience in a law office can be beneficial.
All initial applications are made directly to Simon Fraser University for the Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies. 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. More information can be found on their website here: Admissions – School of Criminology – Simon Fraser University (sfu.ca)
The scope of practice of Notaries in British Columbia is much broader than that of Notaries Public in other provinces. Notaries in BC provide legal advice and legal services in areas of non-contentious law similar to the services (in areas of non-contentious law) provided by Lawyers. Notaries and Lawyers are held to the same standards by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Notaries from other provinces would be required to complete the SFU MA ALS program, Notary Education Program, and the statutory examinations in order to be commissioned and become a member.
A person who is a Notary Public or a Paralegal in another province may make an application under the Labour Mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade. That Agreement provides for certified workers in regulated professions/occupations to have their qualifications assessed based on equivalency. Due to the scope of practice of Notaries in BC, it is unlikely that equivalency can be met.
To fulfill the accounting course requirement, successful completion of a university-level accounting course is accepted. If you have completed an accounting course as a part of your degree, you can provide the Society with a copy of the transcript to satisfy this requirement. In case you are uncertain about the eligibility of a specific course, the Society has provided a list of some acceptable accounting courses here: Previously Acceptable Accounting Courses.
As part of the Notary reference letter requirement, it is important that you contact and engage with notaries. We suggest making phone calls and requesting appointments with Notaries in your area. During the appointment, you can explain the information you need for the reference letter.
No, for this requirement, you will need a practicing Notary Public to provide a Notary reference. The reference should be from a Notary who is currently in active practice. Lawyers may provide personal references.
Three letters of reference are required. These cannot be provided by friends or family members.
Having a criminal record or being bankrupt may have an impact on your ability to become a Notary Public. Each case is evaluated individually, and the impact of a criminal record on your application may depend on factors such as the nature of the offense, how long ago it occurred, and whether you have demonstrated rehabilitation. Generally, a criminal record could be a barrier to obtaining a notary public commission, especially if the offense is related to dishonesty, fraud, or moral turpitude.
Bankruptcy or being subject of a Consumer Proposal may not necessarily disqualify you from becoming a Notary Public, but it must be disclosed during the application process. The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia may review your financial stability and responsibility as part of their assessment.
Notary Education Program
The Notary Education Program is a 6-month program, running from January to June.
The Program will be delivered through a combination of in-person and hybrid learning formats. Students can expect to spend approximately two blocks of four weeks for a total of eight weeks in Vancouver for in-person training. Other components of the educational program may be conducted through online methods. The two blocks will be separated by a mentoring period.
No, the Society does not provide any living arrangements for the students. It is the responsibility of the students to arrange their stay during the program. However, the Society may be able to offer guidance or suggestions regarding accommodation options in the area. Students are advised to independently plan and make arrangements for their stay.
The Notary Education Program is scheduled to start in January and will span a duration of six months. The program encompasses various components, including in-person classes, online training, mentorship, and preparation for the statutory examinations. All in-person classes will be held in Vancouver. A detailed program schedule will be published.
The application portal will open in September. Students who are in the final semester of the MA ALS program will be able to complete the application process before they graduate. We will need a copy of your unofficial transcript which you will be able to download from the SFU site. You do not need to order that from the Registrar’s office.
No, only Lawyers who have graduated from a recognized Canadian law institution and possess relevant experience in the field of notary practice are eligible to challenge the statutory examinations.
No, conveyancing is different than acting as a Notary Public. Though the Notary Education Program also covers basic conveyancing, the focus is from the perspective of a Notary Public giving legal advice. However, it is advantageous to all the participants to have people in the class with conveyancing experience.
The mentoring requirement involves spending 250 hours in a Notary practice under the supervision of an approved Notary Public.
Yes, the Society provides a list of approved mentors. Not all BC Notaries are included in this mentoring list. As a student, it is your responsibility to initiate contact and conduct interviews with the Notary or Notaries you are interested in mentoring with. If a Notary you are interested in is not listed, they have the option to apply to the Society for approval as a mentor.
The mentoring requirement must be fulfilled as part of the Notary Education Program.
To be eligible to act as a mentor to a student, a Notary must:
- Have been a Notary in active practice for at least 5 years,
- Be in full-time practice at the time of the application to act as a mentor; and
- Be approved by the Society.
No, the mentorship requires in-person participation.
The specifics of compensation should be discussed and agreed upon between the mentee and mentor.
The Society suggests that you start building your contacts and networks before the start of the Notary Education Program. By starting early, you can increase your chances of finding a mentor who aligns with your goals and aspirations in the field of Notarial practice.
Commission as a Notary Public
The statutory examinations are conducted before commissioning. Throughout the course, statutory skills assessments and examinations are held. The specific timing for commissioning is determined by the Court’s schedule.
After you are commissioned by the Supreme Court of British Columbia and become a member.