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.


Notarizing U.S. Documents in Israel at the U.S. Consulate

Notarizing Documents in Israel at the U.S. Consulate

U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem

Notarizing Documents at the U.S. Consulate in Israel

A very common question I get asked is “How do I notarize a U.S. document at the U.S. Consulate while in Israel?”  Alternatively, “Are you a U.S. Notary Public”?

The answer to the latter question is that I am not a U.S. Notary Public.  I am an Israeli Notary. However, a U.S. Notary public cannot notarize documents outside of the jurisdiction where he/she has his/her notary license.  So, whether or not I am a U.S. Notary public is irrelevant.

However, the first question is relevant.

The answer is that there are two ways to notarize a U.S. document in Israel.

1 – Using the Notary Public services of the U.S. Consulate; or

2 – Using the Notary services of an Israeli Notary with an Apostille.

This article discusses the first option.  Option 2 is discussed here.  In a head to head comparison in an article here, you will see that option 2 is the better option.

Scheduling an Appointment to notarize documents at the U.S. Consulate

There is no other way to say this other than to say that scheduling an appointment at the U.S. Consulate is a hassle.

For starters, it cannot be done by telephone. In other words, no human to speak to.

I attempted to visit the Consulate in Jerusalem’s website, and got an error message.

I next tried Tel Aviv.  The first available date (today’s post is July 27, 2017) which you can see at the screenshot here is August 15, 2017!

Time it takes to notarize at the U.S. Consulate

Once you’ve managed to schedule your appointment at the U.S. Consulate, you then have to schlep there with all your documents and identification.  You must clear an arduous security process and then wait your turn to be called which can be a while, depending on how many documents the other people there have with them.  In short, I’ve been told that it takes several hours and much aggravation to notarize even one document at the Consulate.

Cost of notarizing at the U.S. Consulate

Each signature costs $50 USD.  Even two signatures on one document will cost $50 USD each for a total of $100 USD.

If you’re still interested in notarizing at the U.S. Consulate, you can learn more on the U.S. Consulate website.

However, if you’d like to see a better option, visit my blog post about Notarizing and obtaining an Apostille here.