How to get your documents notarized for U.S. real estate closings while in Israel

Notarizing Documents in Israel at the U.S. Consulate

How to get your documents notarized for a U.S. real estate closing while in Israel

A question that often arises is “I have a real estate closing on a property in the United States, the title company is asking me to sign a few documents in front of a Notary, but I am in Israel, so what do I do?”

What you cannot do

A common error that attorneys, title companies and real estate buyers and sellers make is that they think a U.S. Notary located in Israel can simply notarize the documents for a U.S. real estate closing while in Israel.  Unfortunately, that is not the case. As of the date of this writing, American notaries cannot legally notarize in Israel.  In fact, I had at least one client who had to start from scratch to the loss of significant money because he had illegally used a U.S. Notary to notarize in Israel.

What you can do

There are 2 options for notarizing American documents for a U.S. real estate closing while in Israel:

  • Doing it at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
  • Doing it with an Israeli Notary and Apostille.

Option 1 – U.S. Embassy/Consulate

The U.S. Embassy in Israel offers notarization services to its citizens in Israel. One must book an appointment and then arrive on the scheduled date with his documents and passport.

As of the date of this writing, the U.S. Embassy has been closed for notarizations due to Covid-19.

Many clients have reported hassles associated with notarizing at the U.S. Embassy. For instance, many often have urgent closing deadlines and simply cannot wait for an appointment date to open.

Others have complained about long lines and other inconveniences associated with scheduling and attending at the U.S. Embassy.

Further, whereas I do not offer legal advice on the substance of the real estate transaction, I have often spotted typos and other errors that could have prevented closings had I not been vigilant.  The U.S. Embassy will not do this for you. More on my value added service on notarizing here.

Finally, notarizing at the U.S. Embassy can be more expensive. For instance, the U.S. Embassy charges $50 USD per signature.  Even if there are 2 signatures on the same document, for instance, husband and wife, each signature is still $50 USD.  Conversely, notarizing with an Israeli Notary (see below) is similarly priced as of this writing at 165 NIS + VAT (17% value added tax for Israeli citizens) for the first signature, but the second signature on the same document is only 66 NIS + VAT.

Option 2 – Israeli Notary with an Apostille Stamp

Many people do not realize that they can notarize their U.S. documents with an Israeli notary. The only difference in this instance is that one must obtain an Apostille stamp from the Magistrate Court on the notarization.

Allow me to explain.

There is a treaty between many countries, including Israel and the U.S., known as the Apostille Treaty which, essentially, allows for notarizing documents in one country which is a signatory to the treaty  to be accepted by another country which is a signatory to the treaty.

In Israel, notarizing documents does not just include a stamp.  In fact, the Israeli Notary, whom incidentally must be a licensed attorney in Israel for at least 10 years to become eligible to become a Notary, prepares a Notary covering page which gets affixed to the document being signed and notarized.  Essentially, it states the Notary’s license number and contact information and confirms that the signor has been identified, including what i.d. what used for identifying the signor.  This Notary cover page is affixed to the document with a red ribbon and sealed with the Notary’s seal. The notarization is brought to the Magistrate Court where the Apostille stamp is affixed on the inside of the Notary cover page.

To see how I assist my clients on real estate closings, visit this blog post.