So Just WHAT is a Notario?

By: Cheryl MIller, Broker, Baja Realty and investment

Many people new to Mexico do not know what a Notario Publico, or Public Notary is here is Mexico and confuse the Mexican Notario with a Public Notary in the United States.  This misconception is understandable because the direct translation is the same.  But, the two positions couldn’t be further apart.

A Public Notary in the United States is licensed and awarded their position in the County or Counties where they work or live. Their primary function is to ratify signatures of parties on documents.  Period.  To become a Notary Public in the US, the requirements and training are fairly simple in comparison to the Mexican Notario Publico.

Although a Notario Publico may also ratify signatures, their powers are much more extensive. Notario Publicos, first of all must be an attorney of law. In addition, they must complete what can be compared to a doctorate program in Notarial Law and Procedures.  Notarios are appointed by the seated governor from the pool of qualified lawyers with this additional certification and only when the population-to-Notario numbers allow. There is one Notario appointed for every 30,000 people per populated area. It is a very coveted position and is often handed down from parent to a qualified son or daughter.  For a family holding a Notaria or Notary office, this can mean generational income.   As such, this position is highly regarded and coveted. Its’ office is taken very seriously.


To simplify, think of a Notario as higher than an attorney, and though on a different path, probably at the same level as a judge, but without term limits.

A Notary Public Office is a State Office and any Notario can function in any part of the State. So, if you have a transaction in Mulege,  your Cabo San Lucas Notario can perform your real estate transaction from right here in Los Cabos, even though, some of the processes may require them or their representatives to travel to that county to finalize the work such as registration or obtaining certifications.  A Baja California Sur Notario, though, cannot close a real estate transaction in Oaxaca.  His position is only recognized in the State where his appointment lays. 

One of the exceptions to this is that if you live in Oaxaca, you can hire a Notario in Oaxaca to draft your Power of Attorney or Last Will and Testament concerning real estate in Baja California Sur and the Notario in Baja California Sur will recognize this ratification from a Notario in a different State.

A Notario can do transactions such as establishing corporations, last will and testaments, real estate transactions, ratify signatures, commercial agreements, Powers of Attorney, and many other documents.  They can ratify signatures on a private contracts, but most will not draft the contract.  They may ask you to provide the private contract yourself or through your attorney before they will ratify signatures.  Private Contracts are not able to be registered with Public Registry and as such, most Notarios will not draft them.

They are also charged with making sure the transactions meets the laws of the Municipality, State and Federal Government.  They collect all applicable taxes for acquisition on behalf of the applicable governing authorities.   Their powers are much more expansive than a Corredor Publico, whose position is more aligned to commercial transactions and cannot do real transfers of title for real estate transactions. 

They may oversee the submittal of your documents to the fideicomiso bank for the bank officer’s signature, as well as, the stamps from Catastro and Public Registry or ask the closing agent expedite these functions on their behalf. 

The Notarios in the State of Baja California Sur belong to a College of Notarios (Board ), a State based organization, but all of the Notarial colleges also meet nationwide.  Unlike the Bar Association from the United States, however, there is no punitive branch available to the public, so if your Notario makes a mistake, you must sue them in court, just like any other attorney who is negligent or has omissions.  As such, if you are in a sensitive or unusual transaction, it is wise to hire your own attorney to check that the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed.

Presently in Baja California Sur, there are about 26 Notarias or Notarios.  Some have multiple offices and serve differing parts of the State. Some have only one office.

Notarios have a yearly established chart of minimum/maximum fees for each service they perform.  They may not charge outside of these parameters, but, the parameters vary widely, so each office is allowed to set their fees within this range. Shopping Notario fees can save you a lot of money.  Just like every other service, there are other factors to consider: a) Does the office have English speaking personnel?  B) Are they overloaded and tend to be slow working?  c) Are they communicative?  d) Have they been known to make errors?

Sometimes, paying a little extra will save you stress and problems.  Usually your closing agent will recommend a Notario office with whom they have had continued success.   Just like any

​ service provider, there are good providers and not so good providers.  Ask your agent or the closing agent for their advice.  Both your realtor and your closing agent will have more experience with the choices than the person from Minnesota you met in the local bar.  Trust your professionals!

 By Cheryl T. Miller, Broker, Baja Realty and Investment,, 624-122-2690. Cheryl is the broker of Baja Realty and Investment, a 14 year veteran of Mexican Real Estate  and an architect. Call her for any of your real estate needs.