Many countries require that documents originating from or signed in another country be notarized before they can be officially used or legally recognized – a requirement that is clearly problematic if the originating country or country where the document is signed has no notary publics.
Thailand has not yet enacted legislation providing for notaries public, but in 2008 the Lawyers Council of Thailand issued a regulation for the registration of attorneys qualified to attest to the authenticity of signatures on documents and certify documents. This regulation also sets out requirements for the training, licensing and certification of such lawyers.
Common and Civil Law Systems
In common law jurisdictions, notary publics provide services to the public depending on the jurisdiction in which they are licensed to operate, but those services generally include the administration of oaths, the taking of affidavits and statutory declarations, and the witnessing and authentication of documents.. Any such act may be referred to as a notarization. Notaries in civil law jurisdictions provide a much wider range of services than common law notaries, and although they hold public office, they usually operate in private practice.
There are currently around 4,000 Thai qualified lawyers who have received a certificate and are registered as “notarial services attorneys” pursuant to a Thai Lawyer's Council regulation. In practice, they sign and affix seals that are intended to certify documents and establish the authenticity of signatures on documents. But they are not authorized to administer oaths. Nor are they bonded. Indeed, Thailand has never enacted legislation to inaugurate a system of notary publics. Instead, it appears that the 2008 the Thai Lawyer's Council regulation was issued in anticipation of the Thai parliament passing legislation on the notarization of documents.
Thai authorities neither require nor accept documents that have been notarized in Thailand. Although some Thai authorities require that a Thai lawyer certify the authenticity of the signatures appearing on certain documents, this is not considered a notarization of that document. For example, a lawyer qualified and registered with the Thai bar must authenticate the signatures of directors appearing on a document submitted to register a Thai limited company. Any Thai qualified lawyer, irrespective of whether that lawyer has passed the test to qualify as a 'notarial services lawyer", may certify such documents. Further, some documents that are signed outside of Thailand must be notarized in that foreign jurisdiction before the Thai authorities will accept that document as properly authenticated. But these same authorities will not accept a document notarized within Thailand by a Thai notarial services attorney as properly authenticated.
Outside of Thailand
Paradoxically, even though Thai authorities will neither require nor accept documents that have been notarized in Thailand, such documents are often submitted to foreign authorities as though they have been notarized under Thai law. Whether they should be treated as properly notarized documents is a matter of foreign law, but it seems unlikely that most foreign officials understand that, strictly speaking, there is no Thai law providing for Thai notaries.