Characteristics of the notarial profession
The notary in Belgium is a public officer who is appointed by the King, and receives a delegation of power from the State. One can become a notary after 5 years of general legal studies, followed by a specialisation year in notarial law. This has to be followed by a 3-year training in a notarial office, after which a final comparative examination takes place. The applicant then becomes a candidate-notary.
There are over 1600 notaries in Belgium, who are active in around 1150 notarial offices, where they conduct their tasks with the help of approximately 8.000 staff members.
Citizens are free to choose their notary, and all notaries are able to assist the citizens in whatever notarial request they may have. This is why, when several parties intervene in an act, each of them may choose their own notary. To respect that choice, it was decided that when two notaries intervene (for example for the buyer and seller of a house) the costs of the transaction is split between the two notaries. After an authentic act is signed, the notary keeps it on file.