IMAGINE you lose an important document such as a birth certificate or business licence. Or you are far away from home and need a document and you need it now!
There is an answer for such stressful situations. An electronic notarial archive has been operating in Slovakia since January 1, 2005.
The archive is under the administration of the Notarial Chamber and includes all 82 notary offices in Slovakia.
So if you need a notarized document anytime, anywhere in Slovakia, all you need do is pop in to the local notary office and they should be able to print out a copy of the document stored on the electronic archive.
Also, if someone else needs to pick up a document about you, you must simply confirm that person's name with the notary.
The main aim of the "Notarial Central Register of Documents" is to enable individuals and corporations to register any important document at one notary office and be able to acquire a notarized copy at another location.
"The notarial central archive is an important step for raising the quality of the legal environment in the Slovak Republic," Štefan Kutenič, the president of the Notarial Chamber told the press.
He added that the role of the archive is not to completely replace paper with a digital form of documents. He said the aim is to achieve a significantly higher standard of processes relating to the availability and confirmation of legal facts conveyed by the documents.
It should be especially useful when submitting applications and statements that require legally valid documents to be attached. In the future, traditional paper attachments will be replaced by electronic messages allowing a recipient to receive a document electronically.
For example, if you need to attach your school certificates to your application for a job or university place, instead of sending the paper version, you can refer the recipient to documents saved in the notarial archive.
This will enable people to submit applications completely electronically.
"Slovak notaries are currently prepared for e-government in practice," said Emil Fitoš, commercial director of Siemens Business Services, which provided the technology for the archive.
Copies of documents are scanned into the electronic archive, which also stores information about where, when and by whom the document was archived.
Data on people with permission to access the archived material is also stored as well as the conditions under which an authenticated copy of the document can be issued.
Individuals and corporations can have documents uploaded onto the archive on request at any notary office. There is no limit to the number of documents that can be registered.
The fee for registration ranges from Sk40 (€1.02) to Sk140 (€3.57) per page.
The chamber expects corporations and businesspeople to use the archive to store contracts, certificates and other documents that will not be stored online in state registers.
Individual citizens are expected to register birth certificates, marriage certificates, academic qualifications, court verdicts and other private documents.
Access to the archive is restricted to notaries. Before registration the documents are signed digitally by the notary.
Peter Varga, the main administrator of the archive, told The Slovak Spectator: "People are discovering everyday new ways of using the electronic archive. We ourselves are sometimes surprised. To give you an example, we have information that technicians use the archive to store their licences and certificates to be able to submit them in any city they work in."
The Notarial Chamber reports that, so far, institutions have been happy to accept the saved documents because the archive, in fact, enables authenticated copies to be issued.
"As concerns state administration institutions, they are sometimes less open to new methods. Of course, the management is in talks with institutions about ways of using the archive," said Varga.
The Notarial Chamber does not have the information on how many individuals and corporations have already decided to save their important documents in the electronic archive but the chamber is optimistic regarding public interest in the system.
"We expect there will be an interest. It is clear that society will depend more and more on such services," Varga commented.
"After paying the registration fee, foreigners can also save their documents in the Slovak archive," Varga added.
He even dreams about the possibility of international notarial cooperation: "I dare to think of one idea. It would be marvellous if other countries had similar systems as well and these systems would be interconnected.
"Then it would be no problem to get a confirmed birth or school certificate in Paris or in London."
Apart from the electronic archive, the Notarial Chamber provides other online services, including a central register of confirmed signatures, wills, collaterals, and other documents.
28. Mar 2005 at 0:00 | Marta Ďurianová