of the Notary Public is the third of the UK legal profession
s, and also the oldest and smallest. The following applies in England and Wales
The notary public is a qualified lawyer, allowed to undertake all legal work reserved to lawyers (conveyancing and commissioning of oaths spring to mind), with the exception of litigation. Which is nice.
Obviously, as most lawyers become solicitors (Only Approximately 1000 notaries exist in England and Wales, of whom all but some 70 are also solicitors), the reason to become a notary is not because you want to do general legal work, but because you want the profession's special powers: Making foreigners believe it really is real. Mostly notaries are only necessary for dealing with foreign jurisdictions; sometimes (despite treaties such as the "HAGUE CONVENTION OF 5 OCTOBER 1961 ABOLISHING THE REQUIREMENT OF LEGALISATION FOR FOREIGN PUBLIC DOCUMENTS") even this won't be enough; so notaries must reigster with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who will authenticate their signature and seal (All notaries must have a unique seal).
Notarisation is required in England and Wales for certain documents, such as Bills of Exchange.
The profession is licensed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, "with the aid of" the "Master and Court of Faculty". (In reality these are the dudes responsible). To become one, one must first either have a degree, or be a lawyer. Then, one has to fork out at least £1500 training fees to Cambridge University (In the guise of their institute of further education). This is if one is a solicitor; anyone else will pay more. Solicitors are exempt from most of the syllabus, as it is very similar to the LPC.
Having been educated, you must apply to the Court (Interestingly, the senior ecclesiastical court of the realm) for your "Faculty", a certificate that you may practice. This will not be granted if they judge that you are not of "good character". This will allow you to spend two years as a trainee. After that time, you will have to reapply yearly for a practice certificate.
If you want, and you can hack it, you can then go the next step, and become a Scrivener.