The path to becoming a notary is divided into three stages: a law degree, apprenticeship in a notary’s office for 18 months (six months of which can be done in parallel with the last year of university), and the open competition run by the Ministry of Justice.
You may enter the competition up to a maximum of three times. For the successful candidates, based on the ranking achieved, the Ministry of Justice assigns a location at which the new notary is obliged to open a practice within 3 months.
Contrary to what is often claimed, the notarial function, therefore, cannot be transmitted to one’s children and the proof of this is that 82.5% of notaries are not the child of a notary.
The requirements for the notarial apprenticeship phase are:
– citizenship of Italy or of one of the 28 European Union countries;
– a law degree from an Italian university, or a recognised equivalent foreign degree.
Length of apprenticeship
Since 2006 notarial apprenticeship has had a duration of 18 months, six months of which can be done in parallel with the last year of university; it takes place at a notary’s office to which the candidate can apply directly, or you can ask your local notarial council to indicate a notary with whom to carry out the apprenticeship. Once you have found the office, you will need to join the register of apprentices held by the local notarial council, where every two months the apprentice must submit a certificate from the notary attesting actual performance. The apprenticeship begins after entry in the register of apprentices. For officials of the judiciary and lawyers who have been practising for at least one year there is a reduced apprenticeship lasting for a continuous period of 8 months. The apprenticeship in any case must be completed within 30 months after registration. If the deadline is exceeded, the period of apprenticeship prior to graduation is not counted.
Over the years, the local notarial districts have set up schools to train young notaries by way of courses taught by university professors, judges and notaries. The goal is not only to prepare students to pass the competitive exam, but to acquire that specific legal sensitivity that should characterise the notary in the exercise of his public function. These are institutions with a long history of proven quality, recognised as such by the National Council of Notaries. Notarial schools recognised by the National Council of Notaries are present throughout the country. It is not mandatory to attend one in preparation for the competition. There are also postgraduate specialisation schools for the numerically limited legal professions that are open to aspiring notaries, magistrates and lawyers.
The notarial competition
The public competition for the award of a planned number of notarial locations is run every year by the Ministry of Justice. The contest is open to those completing their apprenticeship within 45 days after announcement of the competition, during which period applications must be lodged.
There is an age limit of 50 years and you can participate in the competition, with all the correct documentation, only three times, as for the judiciary.
The test is carried out at the national level in Rome and consists of two parts:
– a written examination;
– an oral examination, open only to those candidates who have passed the first exam.
The examining commission (the same for the written examination and the oral examination) consists of:
a) a judge of the Supreme Court, with management responsibilities, who acts as chairman;
b) a magistrate eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court, acting as vice president;
c) seven judges qualified for the court of appeal;
d) six university professors, full or associate, who teach law subjects;
e) nine notaries who have at least ten years of service in the profession.
The Subjects of the Competition
The written examination consists of three theory and practical tests:
– a last will and testament;
– an inter vivos deed (civil law);
– an inter vivos deed (commercial law).
The tests must be assessed in their entirety by the examiners.
The oral examination focuses on three separate tests on the following groups of subjects:
a) civil, commercial and voluntary jurisdiction, particularly with regard to the legal institutions with which the office of a notary interacts;
b) provisions concerning notarial law and notarial archives;
c) provisions on indirect taxes.
At the end of the competition, the Ministry of Justice draws up the list of successful candidates in order.
Appointment and assignment of a practice
The winners of the competition are assigned by the Ministry of Justice, according to the results achieved, to the locations at which the new notaries are required to start a practice within three months (where they will be required to deposit and keep deeds, registers and notarial records). Contrary to what is often claimed, the notarial function, therefore, cannot be transmitted to one’s children and the proof of this is that 82.5% of notaries are not the child of a notary.
The assignment of the location and the appointment are effected by a decree of the Director General of Civil Justice within the Ministry and are published in the Official Gazette.
The Ministry of Justice provides the new notary with his seal and the device for digital signatures. For this reason, the notary must submit his signature together with the impression of the seal at the local Notarial Council, which will then enrol him.