Public Notary

10 DEC 2018


What is a Public Notary?

A Notary is an officer of the law who is appointed for life by the Supreme Court and is given statutory powers to draw up, authenticate and execute documents for both national and international purposes. It is important to note that not all solicitors are public notaries but all public notaries are solicitors.

What is a Notarial Act?

A notarial act is an instrument in writing which records the due execution or verification of a document and is authenticated by the Notary. The ‘notarisation’ of a document by a Notary includes the following:

  • attestation of a signature;
  • authentication of a document or instrument; and
  • certification of a document as a true copy of an original.

How is a Notarial Act performed?

There is no law which prescribes how a notarial act must be formally conducted, however there is a very heavy onus on the Notary to satisfy themselves that any notarial act is in order. This is done through the preparation of a notarial certificate by the Notary which features the following: 

  • name, title, date and place of execution, the names of the Notary and parties appearing before the Notary and their reason for doing so;
  • the subject document of the act;
  • a statement to the effect that the document was read and approved by the parties;
  • the signatures of the parties; and
  • the date, written in full.

The Notary must also identify the person which appears before them and this may be done through the verification of identification documents. Identification documents may include birth certificate, passport, driver licence and bank documents. The Notary will only perform the notarial act if the Notary is satisfied of the identity of the person signing.

Once the Notary is satisfied of the identity of the person appearing before them, the Notary will prepare and attach the notarial certificate to the subject document. The documents are then sewn together with ribbon, signed by the Notary and sealed with the Notary’s seal.

What Documents can be Notarised?

Examples of documents which are commonly notarised include:

  • Execution of documents;
  • Affidavit;
  • True copy of an original Australian document;
  • Execution to a power of attorney;
  • Authenticating Australian educational certificates for use overseas (for example, university or college certificate); and
  • Authenticating birth, death and marriage certificate.

Legalisation of Documents

In certain international jurisdictions, it is a requirement to have the signature of a Notary legalised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT will certify that the signature, stamp and seal of the Notary is genuine by checking the signature, stamp and seal against the specimen held on the file. This is a legal process and DFAT will only issue an authentication or apostille once satisfied that the signature, stamp or seal on the document is not fraudulent. Subject to the documents being in order, DFAT will then legalise and endorse the relevant documentation.

What is an Apostille? 

Generally speaking, countries that are a party to the 1961 Hague Convention require an apostille on documents that qualify as Australian public documents.  These countries include but are not limited to:

  • Belgium;
  • Denmark;
  • France;
  • Germany;
  • India;
  • Italy;
  • Japan;
  • Malta;
  • New Zealand;
  • Turkey;
  • United Kingdom; and
  • United States (states within the United States have their own apostille requirements).

Please note that the above list of countries is not an exhaustive list and that you are best to seek advice as to whether or not you require an authentication or apostille from DFAT for the country to which your document will be used. A full list of countries that are party to this convention can be found on the link below:

Online verification is also available for apostilles issued by Australia on or after 14 December 2015. To verify an apostille online, you can visit the link below:

What is an Authentication?

Documents going to countries that are not party to the Hague Convention require an authentication. It is important to confirm the requirements with the foreign authority as some countries impose specific requirements on how an authentication should be prepared.

Documents in a Foreign Language

Documents produced to the Notary which are in a foreign language need to be translated in order to be notarised by the Notary. The Notary needs to understand the nature and contents of the documents before the Notary can sign the relevant documentation.

The translation of the document being notarised needs to be a certified translation and this can be done at the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

What is the Cost of a Notary Service?

The cost for each notarial act is determined based on the nature of the documents and the number of documents which need to be notarised. We can provide you with a quotation upon enquiry and sighting of the documents.

Where can I contact a Public Notary?

If you would like to make an appointment with the Notary or have any questions regarding the Notary work and services provided, please contact us on (02) 4626 5077.

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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