What is the role of the public notary in purchasing a property?
The role of the Public Notary (javni bilježnik in Croatian) is essential in the purchase and selling of property and land in Croatia. In fact most official actions can’t be executed without the intervention of the public notary. There is one public notary on the island of Hvar which can be found in the town of Stari Grad. The office occupies a corner of the Hektorović Villa part of which is the famous museum.
The office has a reception area where most of the business takes place, whilst a larger conference room is used when there are more than a few people involved. The atmosphere is welcoming to a degree and quite official and smiles are not necessarily order of the day! One word of warning the waiting area is outside under an arch, which in summer is welcoming as it is cool, however in winter it can be bitterly cold and a 45 minute plus waiting time is not unusual!
What does the Notary Public do?
The Notary Public ensures, as far as possible, that all legal documents are properly constituted. Therefore, a signature to a sales or rental contract or to give power of attorney to a lawyer has to be witnessed and notarised to make it fully legally binding. Although it is not always needed to have your signature notarised as a buyer, it is generally a good idea. A signature witnessed by anyone other than a public notary, or simple photocopies of documents will never be acceptable in court or for official purposes in Croatia. For sales contracts there are usually 2 original contracts and any additional contracts can be made by the public notary which are the stamped and sealed. As a buyer it is sensible to have four copies as these are need by the utilities as proof of ownership to change accounts in your name.
Documents in a language other than Croatian have to be translated by an official interpreter (sudski tumač). Hvar has none for English, so translations have to be done in Split or elsewhere. The right rubber stamp is all-important. Sales contracts that Balustrade Estates are involved which need a second language are a two column contract with both languages. We recommend a company court translator from Zagreb who are able to translate into English, French, Italian and German and usually take about 48 hours.
How is notarisation done?
When you visit the Notary Public, you need proof of your identity. For Croatians this is an identity card or passport, and one’s personal identity number (OIB) which is separate from the other documents. Foreigners will need their passports. Photocopies are not accepted as proof of identity.
Your details are entered into a ledger, and the transaction is performed. For signature witnessing, the Notary Public watches while you sign, then enters your details and a verification on the back of the document or on a separate sheet of paper with a special stamp. This sheet is attached to the original document with a multicoloured twisted cord, which is knotted and bound to the back page with a sticky seal which is over-stamped as a final precaution against tampering. The Notary Public retains a copy of the notarised document.
Public Notary Contact Details
Public Notary Office, Kod Svetog Roka, 21460 Stari Grad
Telephone: + 385 (0)21 765 547
Working hours for receiving clients:
Monday and Wednesday 8.00 – 14.00
Tuesday and Thursday 8.00 – 16.00
Friday: 8.00 – 12.00
(Closed on Bank Holidays)